In this post we’ll explore how to self advocate for your mental health!
What Does It Mean?
To advocate is to publicly support or recommend a specific cause or policy.
For example a mental health advocate supports or fights for those with mental illness. They also share personal stories as well as helping and inspiring others.
How To Be A Mental Health Advocate?
A mental health advocate is any voice for anyone suffering from mental disorders such as depression or any other disorder. They hope to spread a message of hope and support.
Here’s a related article, “What It Means to Be a Mental Health Advocate—And How to Become One”.
What Does It Mean To Self Advocate?
Have you ever considered being a self advocate for your mental health?
Self advocacy means to speak up for yourself and also for your interests.
It also means to make decisions about your own life. This includes learning how to get information, so that you can understand issues that are affecting you.
Self advocacy is vital for managing bipolar disorder.
It’s a vital process that involves identifying obstacles that you face. Then you develop coping strategies to reduce them and put them into action.
Learn More By Reading A Related Post, “What is Advocacy?”.
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What Are Some Mental Health Benefits?
Learning how to advocate for your mental health has many benefits. It may even lead to not only a better understanding of bipolar disorder, but also a better outcome.
Advocating for your own mental health may lead to greater self awareness. For example you may not be aware that bipolar symptoms might be triggered by bad habits.
In a previous post, “Habits That Lead To Success”, we learned that habits are routine behaviors repeated daily. They happen without thinking about them and they’re automatic responses to situations whether they’re good or bad.
Sometimes bad habits such as drinking too much coffee or using electronics before bed trigger bipolar symptoms.
Self Advocacy and also self help leads to greater awareness of bipolar symptoms. For example anxiety is a common symptom, along with unusual energy levels.
Sometimes these symptoms happen once in a while. They could be a sign of something more serious if they affect day-to-day living.
It turns out that self-esteem is self advocacy’s twin flame.
If you’re self-esteem is low, your ability to self advocate goes down. The lack of self-advocacy drives you further into the pit of low self-esteem.
As a result it makes feelings of gloom and self doubt worse.
This becomes a cyclical process where you feel bad about feeling badly.
When you learn self-advocacy you’ll start to break this cycle. First you become aware of you low self esteem cycle, then you take action toward making it better.
Rising self-esteem goes hand-in-hand with learning how to advocate for your mental health.
Here’s a related post, “Improving Self Esteem and Self Advocacy”.
Fight Bipolar Related Self-Stigma:
Being a self-advocate for your mental illness is vital for defeating self-stigma.
When you’re diagnosed with bipolar disorder it can change your life. As a result you may face stigma by society and also you may face self-stigma.
Self-stigma happens when you become aware of public stigma. As a result you start agreeing with the myths as well as stereotypes about bipolar disorder. This leads to a limiting belief system about yourself.
In a past post, “How To Overcome Limiting Beliefs”, we learned that toxic beliefs about yourself can leave you feeling stuck.
When you confront these limiting beliefs, you’re fighting self-stigma. This is a form of self-help that helps you with your mental health.
Helps You Work With Your Doctor:
Whatever you learn about yourself and your mental illness you can share with your doctor. For example if you become aware of symptoms that you didn’t know about, you can share that.
Bipolar disorder is a hard illness to diagnose. It’s common to be misdiagnosed with something else. For example if you’re only aware of frequent sad moods, your illness might be mistaken for major depressive disorder.
When this happens it could lead to being prescribed a medication that either won’t work or make the disorder worse.
Sometimes being misdiagnosed happens when you seek help while in a low mood. Unless you’re aware of other symptoms such as high moods (mania) and also don’t speak up your doctor may not be 100% sure whether you have bipolar disorder or not.
It’s vital to have a good working relationship with your doctor. As a result your bipolar disorder treatment will have a better outcome.
How To Become A Mental Health Self-Advocate?
Sometimes bipolar disorder might make you feel stuck in life. It might not seem like you’d be able to live a happy and functional life.
When you start to self advocate for your mental health that can change. As a result you may regain hope and self esteem.
Tips For Being A Good Self Advocate:
Learn To Love Yourself:
It’s hard to balance the extremes of bipolar disorder. It’s tough trying to help your bipolar brain. As a result learning to love yourself can be hard.
Learning to love yourself is hard with bipolar disorder.
Luckily self love is a skill you can practice. The more you practice it the better you get.
It starts with setting an intention. This includes a willingness to shift from a mindset of blame and self doubt to one of tolerance as well as acceptance.
Also self love includes surrounding yourself with the right kind of people. The right kind refers to more upbeat people who nurture as well as support you.
Finally let go of half baked expectations that leave you feeling stuck. This includes letting go of toxic beliefs about yourself.
Get The Facts:
if you’re diagnosed with bipolar disorder it’s vital to get the facts.
Learning some facts about bipolar disorder will help you self advocate.
Some of the facts you’ll learn might surprise you. For example you can feel high and low moods at the same time. Also you might go months and even years without showing symptoms.
Here’s a related post, “7 Surprising Facts About Bipolar Disorder”.
Advocating for your mental health can be something simple as gaining support.
When you’re making new friends it helps that they support you when you’re feeling down. If you’re friends with the wrong people it can be disastrous for your illness.
Good friends as well as family can be a big help. It’s also vital to have a good relationship with your therapist as well.
It’s also vital to form support networks with other people who have bipolar disorder. For example on social media platforms such as Facebook there are many good groups to join.
Support groups are an opportunity to learn more about bipolar disorder. Also they’re an opportunity to advocate for others as well.
Create Your Own Coping Strategy:
This may be the most vital part of advocating for your mental health, along with medication. When you learn how to cope with bipolar disorder’s extremes it can lead to better outcomes.
First accept yourself and your illness. When you learn as much as possible about bipolar disorder, then gain support. Finally take action by using a coping strategy that plays a role in your mental health.
A coping strategy might include better sleep hygiene, changing your diet as well as practicing mindfulness.
Also as part of your plan it’s vital to not only stay in touch with your therapist but also with your support network.
Have You Ever Advocated For Yourself?
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