Things I wish I could tell my 25 year old self…

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By Anita Manley

I recently posted a throwback photo of myself on Facebook (see below). It really spoke to me and I started thinking, oh what I wish I’d known then. So, I decided to write a blog about it. I originally thought I would write 25 things, but the list grew larger. Here are 35 things, I wish I’d known when I was 25:

  1. Practice patience. (As my mother always said, “Good things come to those who wait.”)
  2. Practice self-love. Be kind and gentle with yourself.
  3. Get rid of the negative self-talk track going on in your mind.
  4. Hobbies are not a waste of time, they are wellness tools! Really!
  5. Read a book for enjoyment.
  6. Walk daily.
  7. Join a group/club/team/class to have fun and meet new friends.
  8. Volunteer doing something you enjoy.
  9. “This too shall pass.” The good times, and the bad.
  10. Be yourself – nothing more, nothing less – You are good enough!
  11. You are worthy of love.
  12. Keep busy, but calm your mind.
  13. Have a daily routine.
  14. Practice mindfulness.
  15. Enjoy your alone time. Don’t be afraid to be alone.
  16. Pay yourself first (save and invest).
  17. Relax – learn methods to keep your anxiety in check.
  18. Believe in yourself. “You’ve got this”.
  19. Trust your gut.
  20. Some things are better left unsaid.
  21. Always use the sandwich approach when communicating with people regarding a difficult situation.
  22. When angry – go for a walk, write in a journal. Take time to digest and calm down before discussing. You can’t take those words back.
  23. Compare yourself, to yourself – not to others.
  24. Learn to love and appreciate your body.
  25. Don’t be afraid to feel all of the emotions. You don’t have to be “happy” all of the time.
  26. Journal!
  27. Have an attitude of gratitude!
  28. Stop blaming others. Take personal responsibility!
  29. Have compassion for yourself and others.
  30. Stop worrying about things beyond your control.
  31. Continue to do your best and be satisfied with that.
  32. Aim for progress, not perfection.
  33. Breathe!
  34. Take care of yourself first so you can truly take care of others.
  35. Surround yourself with people who hold similar core values.
When I look at this picture, I feel so much love and compassion for my younger self. There was just so much I had yet to learn.

Thankful for medication…

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By Anita Manley

Yes, that’s right everyone, if you don’t know this by now, I take medications to stay well!

I know that there is a feeling out there by a rather large number of people, that taking medication for a mental illness means you are weak– expecting a pill to fix everything for you. I can tell you that this is simply untrue. I am a very strong, resilient and capable woman, but medication helps to manage my highs and lows, helps to keep my delusions at bay, and more.

On this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, the birthday of my eldest daughter, I’ve been reflecting upon my past 29 years of motherhood. It can be broken down into two parts: 19 years of instability and 10 years of stable recovery. Although within the past decade, I am older, wiser and have many more life skills and wellness tools in my toolkit (including medication), I resisted taking medication early on, when my children were young.

I will not tell you the exact names of the medications I am taking, but I will let you know what families they fall into. I’m taking a mood stabilizer and an anti-psychotic. The “mood stabilizer” does just that — it stabilizes my moods, evens them out, makes the highs and lows less noticeable. The “anit-psychotic” is something relatively new that has been introduced into my regime and it has been a game-changer. In addition to helping rid me of my delusions, this wonderful little yellow pill helps make me less irritable and also acts as a sleeping aid. In the irritability category, I asked my husband, Ron if he would describe me as being irritable? He said, “not at all, that is not even a word I would use to descibe you. I would describe you as being good humoured, unflappable and resilient.” On the other hand, when I inquired with my eldest daughter Nicola, “would you have described me as being irritable when you were growing up and living at home?”, she responded “oh ya, that’s for sure.” So there you go! A personality enhancer– anti-psychotics! Who knew? Also, many years ago, my psychiatrist advised me that it is imperative I get enough sleep to manage my symptoms. So, having a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, as a result of taking this anti-psychotic, is immensely helpful to my overall mental health and well-being.

Quite frankly, I am a better version of myself because of the medications I take every single night. Don’t get me wrong, I know that all the other things I do for self-care; journaling, deep breathing, knitting, baking, cooking, daily nature walks, cross-country skiing, practising an attitude of gratitude, etc. also play a big role, but I do not underestimate the value of medication for good mental health and wellbeing when prescribed by a doctor.

I am blessed to have so many strong and healthy relationships that I have carefully tended to over the past 10 years, while living in recovery. I have my husband, both daughters, a son-in-law, his family, baby Rowan (my new grandson), my extended family, many friends and neighbours and, of course, my peers at The Royal. All of this has been possible, in part, due to the medications I take to keep me well.

So, if you think that people who take medication for their mental illness are weak — think again. I’m sure you wouldn’t think that someone who takes insulin for diabetes is weak. They are trying to stay alive and live their best life. That’s what I’m trying to do, too — to stay alive and live my best life. Mental health and physical health should be viewed equally. Mental health is health.

I have so much to be grateful for on this Thansgiving weekend — including my medications.

Taking medications, every night before bed, is part of my wellness regime.