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Lucy Turns Pages: Guest Post: You Can Still Live a Full Life While Coping With Mental Health Issues by Nicole Dake

Guest Post: You Can Still Live a Full Life While Coping With Mental Health Issues by Nicole Dake

For most of my life, I have been coping with PTSD, Anxiety and Depression. Hearing that you have such a host of disorders can feel overwhelming at first. However, you can eventually come to terms with all the issues, and accept that you aren’t going to be like everyone else. Knowing that you are different can be disheartening, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

In the last couple of years, I have been lucky to find a good counseling center. I am able to see a therapist for talk therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and a Psychiatrist for medications.

“EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference.” (

When I started therapy two years ago, I first started with talk therapy and learning coping skills, then I added EMDR about 6 months in. The combination of both of these approaches has made a huge difference.

I started my treatment this way because PTSD has been more difficult to cope with than either the anxiety or depression, because I used to have frequent panic attacks as a result of the PTSD. Also, coping skills for anxiety and PTSD are very similar.

For both, deep breathing, yoga, meditation and mindfulness have been very helpful as coping skills that I can use in daily life.

When it comes to depression, the most powerful tool that I have learned is using Behavioral Activation.

According to Medical News Today, “The idea behind behavioral activation is that by deliberately practicing certain behaviors, people can “activate” a positive emotional state. For example, engaging in fulfilling or healthy activities can make someone feel good, which then makes them more likely to keep participating in those activities.”

Basically, what it boils down to is that no matter how bad you feel on a given day, you get up and do the things that need to be done anyway. Even if you still feel depressed, at least you will have a sense of accomplishment too.

Another thing I have learned through therapy is to be gentle with myself, and prioritize self-care. One of the pivotal moments in therapy was when one of my therapists told me that, “Setting boundaries is Self-Care.” Protecting your mental space from people who are negative, or ask too much of you, is a way to care for yourself deeply. To protect my mental health, I had to learn that it is OK to say no to things that aren’t serving me.

A combination of therapy and mindset coaching has also taught me to combat my limiting beliefs. I have done this through a combination of using positive affirmations, and using EMDR to combat the sources of my limiting beliefs.

Many of my limiting beliefs stem from a childhood that was alternately abusive and neglectful, and the negative messages that I got from my parents.

One example of this is thinking that everything is my fault. This was especially true for me when something bad would happen. I spent so many years being told that if something bad happened, it meant I had done something wrong, that I believed this very deeply.

When something bad would happen to me, even something small like my child refusing to brush her teeth at night, I would get into a downward spiral of negative thinking. I would start to think I had failed as a mother, I had failed as a person, and that nothing I did was ever right. I felt like nothing I did mattered.

Learning how to combat these negative, limiting beliefs has been freeing.

Now, when I encounter a bad situation, I may still think, “I am a bad mother.” But I don’t go into the whole downward spiral. It stops there. That means, I can say to myself, “No, I am a good mother.” I can also list examples to myself of how I am a good mother. Then, I come out of the negative thinking spiral and feel much better in a matter of minutes or hours. I don’t spend days ruminating about what happened and beating myself up.

When you have a mental health condition, it helps to think positively as much as possible. I use daily affirmations each morning too. Many of these, I use to counteract my limiting beliefs.

If I think something badly about myself, I try to think of a positive message that is the opposite. For example, if I am thinking, “My life is terrible” then I would say an affirmation like, “I have a good life.” I write all of my affirmations on flashcards, and look at them throughout the day to help myself maintain a positive mindset.

I do still have down days, but I have learned to bounce back much faster. I am gentle with myself. I use my coping skills, and practice self-care. If I have a bad day, I do something that I enjoy or I take a nap and rest. That lets me reset mentally, and have a better day the next day.

If you are coping with a mental health disorder, or more than one like me, I would highly recommend going to therapy or coaching. Having a professional to help you learn coping skills is a huge way to learn how to live a happier life.

About the writer:

Nicole Dake is a blogger, author and mom of three, living in Broomfield, CO. Nicole graduated from University of Colorado, Boulder with a BA in Psychology in 2008. Nicole writes about health and wellness for moms and kids, with a focus on whole person wellness. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, yoga and playing Magic the Gathering.


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