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  • Writer's pictureShaelyn Heise

Has my Mental Illness Helped Me?

I have discussed many challenges I have faced because of my mental illness. While yes, there definitely has been more negatives than positives during the years of my illness. Although it has been the toughest challenge I have faced yet, I have learned so much. Not only have I been educated on my illness and those similar, but I have learned so much about myself.

First, I have learned about my strength, I have been through a number. I know I can handle anything that comes my way. I admit I am sensitive (those who closely know me are likely laughing right now and would add a "VERY" before that word). I have learned to manage my stressors with small acts, small breaks and small victories. I have learned that I can manage whatever comes my way, and I have overcoming my mental illness to thank for that.

Next, I have realized my creativity. My goodness the stories my brain comes up with on a regular basis. Even I am unsure why I haven't written a novel. My diagnosis of anxiety led me to one stress release activity in particular that is now my passion- art. I can spend hours upon hours in front of a canvas with a paintbrush. This creative outlet has helped me in more ways than I can explain. When I am stressed, I paint. When I am feeling the anxiety bubbling over, I pull out a canvas. When I feel like nothing in this world can save me, I hang onto my paintbrushes for dear life. It has changed my life, in such a positive way. I have built friendships beginning with a conversation about a piece I created. I have been able to stop my pattern of self harm in times of struggle, by finding a more positive way. My boyfriend, as well as our apartment walls can attest to the time I put into painting. Sometimes it is all I can do.

Moving on I have been exposed to my passion and my drive. Nothing can stop me when I am in my "Tee Up For Mental Health mode". I have been at the bottom of the bottom, and I wish that upon no one. Unfortunately, the reality is more people are suffering in silence than ever before. This is why I began the non-profit, to decrease the waitlist times and get people into the treatment they need and deserve. Starting the conversation is something I am so passionationate about doing. I have spent many days and sleepless nights working on this organization. Hoping to make it the best I possibly can, thinking about how I can do more. I have never been so motivated about anything. Sure I have always considered myself hardworking but this takes it to a new level. I hope everyone is able to find something they have a burning passion for. I wouldn't change those sleepless nights for anything.

The final change I am going to speak about today, certainly not the last thing that has changed however. My mental illness has taught me to be grateful, which I know may seem backwards. Days that I am doing well, I appreciate every moment. When I am able to go out in public, with no panic, I am so damn thankful. I know that these small victories are what I need to focus on and be proud of myself for right now. Not by any means saying I don't have larger long term goals, but they don't necessarily run my life at the moment. I had to take a little bit of a "pause" to focus on my wellbeing, and that's okay. If your mental health is not in good shape, it will affect your entire life. Be thankful for what you have, reward yourself for small victories.

I hope you can all find positives in every scenario handed to you, no matter how negative it may seem upon first glance. Everything I have gone through has made me incredibly strong, and I am grateful for that strength.

Stay safe and strong,


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