One of the most important parts of healing in our journey as survivors is improving and maintaining our mental health. I believe that there are a variety of ways in which we can have a healthy outlook on our lives.
First, and most obvious, is to find a therapist. I’ve been participating in therapy since I was sixteen years old, on and off for varying lengths of time. Each time I entered therapy, I discovered new ways to improve my life. For a long time, I worked on understanding my abuse. Sometimes, I worked on tools to help with my depression and anxiety. Other times, I would focus on how my abuse has affected the relationships in my life. All of these sessions help me to rebuild who I was to make me a better person for my family, my social circle, my work and most importantly, myself.
Second is to join a group. I think the most significant progress that I’ve made in my recovery was during the first few years that I participated in a survivor’s support group. I saw this as a step in which I could openly and honestly talk about the things I was learning in therapy with others who were going through the same thing I was. If nothing else, I knew that I wasn’t alone in what I was experiencing and what I was feeling. Yet, I gained many long-lasting friendships which have provided a great deal of healing in my journey.
Next, I would encourage you to find a hobby, something that is fun and can stretch your mind a bit. I read books a great deal. I write books, obviously. I work out at the gym. All of these things provide a wonderful outlet for me to sometimes escape my world for a little bit, provide some relief from the stress of life, and integrate all of the facets of my life into one.
As a survivor, I caution you not to neglect your mental health. This is a critical piece of your life and in pulling together all of the other facets of your individuality. Self-care is so important, and I hope that you are able to find a variety of ways to help improve your own mental health.