Mental health is a tough subject. Chris Cornell’s suicide is a recent stark reminder that even those that seem to have it all can be our most vulnerable. One of the toughest parts of maintaining your mental health is embracing change. Change can be terrifying, especially for those fighting depression or bipolar disorder. I’m going to share a bit of how I’ve learned to accept and embrace change over the past few months.
Change Is Constant
At the risk of sounding cliche, the first step to embracing change is acknowledging its ubiquity. Greek philosopher Heraclitus is famous for saying “Everything changes and nothing stands still.” Life is going to constantly change around you. Your ability to accept and adapt to that change will define your mental health.
Over the past few months of my divorce, life felt stagnant. I kept waiting for changes to happen. I was so focused on waiting and watching for specific changes, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop, that I missed everything changing around me. It wasn’t until a change in my custody arrangement happened that I snapped out of it and realized that overall things weren’t so terrible.
So how do you embrace change? As blunt as it sounds…you just do. My therapist calls it radical acceptance. It’s the idea that you simply accept whatever happens, because if a situation is out of your control there’s literally nothing you can do to change it. Adopting this philosophy has causes a massive shift in my mindset and my happiness levels.
I in no way assume this kind of acceptance is easy. In fact, it is very difficult. Embracing radical acceptance has taken me months of work. Every time something in my life changed, I felt the pull of my old habits and idiosyncrasies. I still feel the pull, but the strength I’ve gained from radical acceptance is strong enough to fight back now. It will take time, but the ultimate payoff is worth it.
Often times, it takes help to embrace change. I see a therapist once a week, sometimes twice a week when I really need it. I also take a few different medications to help keep me balanced and fight the urges even more. Those medications are monitored by a psychiatrist, and we change medications and dosages (see what I did there?) as needed over time. Sometimes it’s because the side effects become too difficult to handle, or because my body has adjusted to the dosage. Like everything else, I have to adapt and overcome.
If you’re struggling, it’s time to ask for help. If you’re not ready for professional help, at least speak with a friend or family member. If you don’t have one of those you feel comfortable with, hit me up on Twitter at @AletaSoucie. I’m always available as a resource for those in need.