Living with mental illness can be tough as it has far-reaching effects on every aspect of life. But with steps taken in the right direction, it can not only become manageable, but can also lead to a wholesome life, says Paula Tan, the author of this article.
Read on as Paula shares with us her struggle and her journey towards recovery. We hope this story would serve as an inspiration for those trying to overcome mental health issues, which do seem to have become plenty given the pandemic.
As written by Paula,
My struggle with mental health issues:
In June 2016, I found myself not being able to do anything except menial tasks. Trying out a reduction in medicine, going by my own efforts and ability for more than one year despite the doctor’s advice to increase my medication, had finally shown its effects. My mental illness had come to a point where I could hardly do anything. It was the lowest point of my life.
I knew I needed to recover rather than simply taking medicines. I had to be connected socially, be alive spiritually, and have a whole life. But, at that time, I was hyper-focused on my work. It led me to make unwise decisions, and hence, my downfall.
So, from that point on, I decided to make my recovery a priority.
I joined Employment Support Services, a service under Singapore Anglican Community Services, that helps facilitate people with mental health issues transit back to the workforce. I received some employment help and made friends along the way.
My journey towards recovery:
Since 2016, in recovering from the worsening of my illness, I have learnt many lessons, particularly about holistic living.
What is holistic health?
When it comes to living a holistic lifestyle, one guiding principle reigns true: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
First coined by the philosopher Aristotle, this phrase defines the modern concept of synergy and touches on how there needs to be harmony between all of the moving pieces of our lives.
There are four recognised aspects of wellbeing: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It is believed that what happens to one aspect of wellbeing can affect all other aspects.
A holistic healthcare approach takes into account all four aspects and focuses on how they work together to make us whole and healthy as a person.
It is basically living a whole life.
At that time, work was almost the only thing in my life. I realised I had to build the social aspects and the spiritual aspects of my life.
7 Pillars of holistic wellness:
According to Emily Kyle, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, there are guiding principles for living a holistic lifestyle, defined by 7 Pillars of Holistic Wellness:
- Individualised Nutrition
- Plant-Based Medicine
- Restful Sleep
- Joyful Movement
- Compassionate Self-Care
- A Practice of Gratitude
- Social Support
Recovering from mental illnesses, I realised that compassionate self-care, practising gratitude, and having social support were particularly important for me.
Role of Spirituality
Self-care and practising gratitude, these two points pertain mainly to the spiritual aspects of my life. I am a Christian, and I realised I had been far from God, and I really needed to draw close to God again. As I drew closer, there was more meaning, direction and purpose in my life. I prayed to God, read the Bible and drew closer to Him. I was able to exercise compassionate self-care when I recognised that God forgave me for my sins, and by changing my character, I changed my life. And I was able to practise gratitude by thanking God regularly, seeking contentment in God, and felt peace.
As I drew closer, because I knew that God could change my life, there was more meaning, direction and purpose in my life. I realised my calling and found meaningful things to do in my career. The closer relationship with God also blessed my social life, and I realised I could be an even greater blessing to others. It helped me see that I had to live up to my ideals, which consist of a good life.
Social support adds colours to life
As for the social support, I made many friends over the course of recovery and felt more integrated into community and in touch with society though I hardly had any close friends initially. It added colours to my life and really aided me in terms of my competence in handling life. I became a much more mobile and resilient individual.
With the spiritual and social factors in place in my life, my life became more whole and balanced. It was not just about work anymore, but having a meaning and feeling connected, and my life normalised.
Now, I am a fulltime student of writing at Singapore Media Academy, have meaningful connections with friends, meaningful hobbies, and a healthy lifestyle. I hope you will enjoy the same if you seek to live a whole and balanced life and fully recover.”
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Edited by love4wellness