Hi, Friends in the Fight,
My name is Emily Levy. I am the CEO and co-founder of Mighty Well and I have struggled with mental health for most of my life, even before I knew what those words meant.
I started off as excessive nail biter in elementary school. By the time I was in middle school, I was deathly afraid of people not washing their hands. In high school, there were two instances where I ended up in the hospital for out of body experiences (which we now know could be related to my chronic neurologic Lyme disease). I even walked out of high school one day, which was uncharacteristically like me – a straight A Honor Roll student and two sport captain. I remember my friends watching me as I walked, whispering about what was going on with their best friend.
Finally, when I was in college, I was diagnosed with chronic neurological Lyme disease and learned that challenges mental health after often part of the disease. Looking back, my anxiety, depression, and hint of OCD, could have been signs and symptoms of the onset of my neurological Lyme.
Now, at 25, I have my mental health in check. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a daily battle. I take my meds. See my therapist once a week. I practice self-care. But there are plenty of days where the world seems too scary and the only safe place is my bed in the comfort of Netflix.
I want 2019 to be my best year yet. And I want 2019 to be your best year yet. I’ve been thinking a lot about the strategies our community uses to manage their mental health when dealing with a chronic illness, so I thought I’d share some of my own. Here are the methods I’m using to conquer 2019.
1. When the world seems like too much, take a nap.
As someone who always feels like there is a hand around my neck, I have found the best way for me to deal with it is to simply take a nap. If I need to, I pop a melatonin, and say goodnight to the world for 2 hours. I usually wake up feeling like myself again and able to think clearly.
2. “Boy, Bye”
2018 was filled with some hard life lessons. Having a start up isn’t easy for anyone, but in 2018 I added managing my chronic condition, being best friends with my co-founders, and planning an interfaith international wedding. It was a lot. For me, 2018 was about identifying the trigger people in my life, and 2019 is about being ok with saying “Boy, Bye.” I have enough going on my life, and so do you. You deserve better. Be brave and say goodbye to the toxic people in your life.
3. Take time to appreciate those who are in your life (and not going anywhere)
On a similar note, I want to invest more in my core people. I often find myself treating people who love me unconditionally the worst. I think we all do. For some reason, its like we know they are always going to be there and they will end up forgetting us, so why not. In 2018 I found this happening way more than it should have and it took an outsider in my life to be the one to point it out to me. That is why in 2019 I vow to give thanks to those people in my life who put up with me at my worst and make sure we are making memories in 2019 that show much how much appreciate them. I bought my co-founder, Maria, and I tickets to see Mumford and Sons, as a big thank you for planning my bachelorette party!
4. Set a realistic goal and stick to it.
I always beat myself up when I set myself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. That is why in 2019 I am setting attainable goals that I can celebrate when I finally achieve them.
Take my wedding prep for example… My body is NOT in a place where I can work out 7 days a week to get the wedding body that I have always wanted. That is why I have made the conscious choice to commit to working out 4 days a week, doing things that are low impact and not going to leave me in bed the next day. Can’t do that ballet bar class that all of your friends are going on instagram? That’s ok, find something that’s safe and achievable for you.
5. Comparison WILL kill you.
Believe me. I have been there. As someone who is hyper competitive, it is hard for me not to compare myself to all of my healthy friends who are entrepreneurs. Work on comparing yourself to YOU. Are you doing better than you were in 2018? In 2017? In 2016? Practice kaizen, the Japanese method of “changing for the better” A friend of mine from college introduced me to this concept and it is something I wish I could tattoo in invisible ink across my forehead.
6. Open Up
Feeling Alone? Me too. That was until I started telling people that yes, I go to therapy. Yes, I take medication to help me deal with it. Wait, YOU DO TOO? The more I told people, the more I found solidarity with others who were going through the same thing.
7. Stay organized
With so much going on in my life right now, it’s more important than ever for me to stay organized and on top of my physical and mental health. The Mighty MedPlanner and The Mighty Pack are helping me to do this every day, and I’m hoping they are helping you too!
8. This is my canvas and I am going to paint it how I want.
At 25, I have faced more personal hardships that anyone would imagine by looking at my Instagram profile. I have spent too much of my life trying to please others. My mental health depends on my personal happiness. I keep my head high. I do what makes me happy. I keep my faith strong. The rest of my life is up to me. It’s time for all of us to start to put ourselves first.