I’ve recently started a new practice: keeping track of my mental health “victories” throughout the week.
This is what this past week’s looked like:
- I bought the Fieldroast vegan sausages over other brands even though they have more fat and calories. Why? They taste better and have more protein. This was NOT an easy decision. I stood in that aisle for at least 10 minutes having a mental battle with myself. And I confess that I walked off more than once without any sausage.
- Thought that was the end of that struggle? WRONG. That was just one battle in the ever-going war. I made it through dinner, but then I had three more that needed to be eaten throughout the week. For lunch the day after, I told myself that I could have half of one. But then I ate a whole one and hated myself. So, I pulled out the rest, determined to throw them out or feed them to my dogs. Then I put them back. Then I pulled them back out again. Then I put them back. I stood there staring at the fridge for a few minutes, and then I managed to walk away.
- I went on an UNPLANNED adventure with my husband to the 4th of July festivities at the fairgrounds. It was spontaneous. And I didn’t die.
- I gave myself time to rest, recover from the trip, and celebrate the holiday. I didn’t stress about meeting the writing deadlines I had set for myself last week. I let myself relax and enjoy summer. My anxiety skyrocketed, but I managed to keep it quiet with other forms of work, like gardening, meal planning, and cleaning.
I used to view these victories from a negative perspective. They were just reminders of how abnormal my mind is–“proof” that I am mentally ill. Now I’m learning that these moments should be celebrated. Sure, they reveal that I’m different, but they also show how hard I fight every day and how sometimes I even win a battle.
In all honesty, this is a tiny fraction of the mental struggles I had that week, and a thousand more were lost than won. But that mindset isn’t healthy. I had FOUR victories and that is what is worth tracking.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. | Romans 12:12
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.