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What I have learnt, since learning of me

Throughout my life I have been learning ways to be a 'better me', better at managing myself and my health. These ways are individual and special to me, but may also assist others.


Living life with mental illness must start with accepting 'what is'.

A mental illness may be a condition for life, but it doesn't have to be a life sentence. 

Identify and accept what is fundamental to who we are, then hold it near and make it dear. This isn't easy.

Accept and acknowledge that what makes us unique, is also commonplace. That's because mental ill-health is everywhere.

It is only once we accept that we can take back control, take charge, and live the life we want.


Greater understanding of why you respond in certain ways allows you to have more compassion for yourself and your experience.

Remind yourself that the way you respond is understandable given the experiences you have had.

Really get to know your 'self'

Who are we as an Individual and what makes us tick?

Tied in with acceptance of 'self', is comprehension. I see this as a dawning, as a knowledge which is born, grows and blossoms.

We should always be tending to ourselves as a parent tends to a child.

This is an ongoing task, for a healthy individual should regularly meta-morph and change. Knowing who we are as an individual helps us master this skill, it helps us reappraise the person we are, and that person we will become.


We are all vulnerable to being overwhelmed. Things easily become too much, because shit happens.

It is up to us to do the best we can to keep ourselves well, and this includes asking for help from others.

It helps to reduce what overwhelms us. One way is to regularly remove sensation. Lie straight, lie comfortably, with dark cloth wrapped around the head, covering eyes ears and nose. Breath into the lower part of the abdomen and recalibrate.

Observe with an open soft mind the thoughts that chase through, like errant children. Be frustrated not, amused with them. And allow them to pass.

Ask, 'What makes my heart happy?'

It may include the creative – cooking, gardening, working with wood – offering kind words, or a random act of kindness. Try to leave a little positive swirl in the air.

For me it is creating a beautiful place within the home, with the plants and flowers of my garden, or acknowledging the shape of a cloud and basking in the warmth the sun.

Water is fabulous for reducing stress, to realign negative energy and emotions. One of the best things is to go to a swimming pool, jump in at the deep end, drop to the bottom and scream.

Stay as long as possible. Surface, get more air, drop and repeat.

This is the quickest way I have found to recalibrate.

It is simply beautiful to watch bubbles rise like crystals through the water. It makes me happy.

Write and take stock

Carry a pencil and paper. This allows for the creative, a doodle or drawing.

Listing accomplishments has helped me gain perspective. When I want to beat myself up for a lack of achievement this list is a reality check – things are getting done!

Understand and empathise

To understand and empathise with ourselves, others and the world we must dig deep into our own stories. The stories of our parents, siblings and ancestors, and the people we encounter, online, in print, or in person.

Through knowing comes sympathy, which erodes prejudice.

I have attempted to salve the hurt of my inner child, yet find it difficult to forgive the adult me.

Yet our experiences layer us in the same way that the earth's core is formed. And our layers must be loved.

Go gentle... Step light

Be at ease with any state in which we find ourselves, for each and every state will pass.

Practice accepting 'just what is' at any one point as being 'just fine'.

Say and repeat 'I am enough'. 'I am enough.' For being enough, is being just fine.

Sue Anderson is an author, public speaker, facilitator and advocate who lives well with bipolar. 

This is an excerpt from Sue's memoir One Minds Manifesto which will be launched at The University of Melbourne on Thursday, November 30.

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