Connecting Self Care to Personal Independence

Being a person with a mental illness, how to care for mental health in your daily life is the most important thing to learn if you desire success and independence in your life.

While this article can help people without mental illnesses, people must realize that for individuals diagnosed with mental disorders, independence and opportunities for success can be taken away… so it becomes doubly important to practice and exercise these skills.

The relationship between self-esteem and self care.

If you have lost your independence due to a mental illness, being able to take care of yourself is the first thing you would need to prove in order to re-gain independence and trust from other people.

However; to care for yourself, in the emotional sense of the word, is different from taking care of yourself, but the two are related. Each is just as important in your recovery.

This difference can be illustrated in raising children; you can take care of your kids, and/or you can care for your kids. One can be done without the other, but both would be improved by combining the two.

So in self care: don’t only take care of yourself, care for yourself as well. Look to yourself for encouragement, and see to it that your own needs are met.

Try looking in the mirror. Look at your reflection without harsh judgment… Who is that person anyway? Think you see fat, or too skinny? Freckles? Pimples? Tall? Short?

You are unique, and no different from anyone else in that matter.

Let me ask you this: If you care about another person: would you even think about them judgmentally? Or would you love them just the way they are?

Look at yourself no differently. You are beautiful just the way you are! Accept your flaws as part of you, and own them! Rock them! You are beautiful in your uniqueness. Be your own best friend, love yourself!

Which brings me back to self care; If you loved someone, you would want to help them feel better if they are feeling sad, or sick, right You would want try to take care of and be there for them, right?

Treat yourself no differently.

You can:

  1. Treat yourself to a hot tea.
  2. Cook yourself a tasty meal.
  3. Take a shower.
  4. Give a genuine smile to that beautiful person in the mirror. Wink at them!
  5. Listen to your favorite music album.
  6. Draw or color.
  7. Read a book.
  8. Write a journal.
  9. Exercise.
  10. Work towards a goal.
  11. Distract yourself from negative or harmful thought patterns by playing with a fidget spinner, going out, or watching TV.
  12. Mindfulness exercise.
  13. Call a person who cares about you.
  14. Visit a loved one.
  15. Give yourself permission to take a nap, if that’s what you need.

Taking time for your physical and emotional health with any of these steps will demonstrate that you care about yourself; this the heart of emotional health, and are important first steps towards your independence.

Be mindful of your thoughts and actions.

Mindfulness as an exercise;

Take time to slow down your breathing. Focus on your sensations. Be mindful of your thoughts and of the consequential actions of your thoughts. At the moment, try to just be present, aware of yourself, and your thoughts.

Thoughts lead to impulses. Impulses lead to actions, and/or intentions. Recognize the difference.

Don’t get angry at yourself for having negative or harmful thoughts, but try to remover yourself and observe them, non-judgmentally. Observe what impulses you are after having these thoughts. Consider what effects of acting on these thoughts would have on yourself, and on the people around you.

Take time to consider which actions, feelings or symptoms might trigger a downward spiral of lost control. Recognize the signs, and take immediate counter-actions to re-gain control of yourself and your actions; such as this mindfulness exercise, or some other method of self care.

Once you learn to be aware of your mental triggers, then you can then take responsibility for your thoughts, actions, and how those actions affect the people around you. These are the keys to self-control and self-actualization.

Take responsibility for your thoughts and your actions.

Rely on yourself for these things, then you begin to earn your own trust, and, the trust of others.

Try not to overwhelm your loved ones with your needs.

Your loved ones are imperfect people who may or may not have perfect intentions.

I don’t know your loved ones or how they operate. Everyone is different. They may want to support you, the might want you to support yourself with outside help.

Your desire to be an independent adult should be accompanied by actions of meeting your own needs; or if you can’t, I strongly recommend you seek outside help.

Accepting help from loved ones is a good thing, but relying on them for help hinders you from independence. Allow them to express their love, but don’t pressure them to do more than the can offer or are capable.

Another person cannot meet all your needs. Even for children who are fully reliant on others, it takes a village.

The key thing to remember though is that, you are not a child. Accept help, but don’t rely on it.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

There is no shame in taking advantage of community services that have been put in place for people with mental illnesses.

Group meetings, drop-in centers, meetings with community mental health workers, counseling services, walking groups, reading groups, volunteering, meaningful employment, attending classes, and other community activities can all help with socialization and self-esteem.

Talking to other people, and hearing others’ points of view, are important human needs. Get out the door and meet people. Make new acquaintances. Listen to others’ needs. Help others, if you have the resources.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to community mental health services, such as a crisis line or crisis stabilization unit, when you feel anything spinning out of control. It’s okay to seek help when it is needed.

That’s what they are there for.


“Good health is a crown on the head of a well person that only a sick person can see.” ~ The Greatness Guide.

In the same way, the freedom of independence wears like a crown on the head of a well person, that those in captivity may long and strive for. Independence should not be taken for granted, nor should mental health. Appreciate it if you have it.

If you have any opinions, feedback, or questions on today’s blog, please, enter them into the comments below! Maybe your experiences can help someone!

Thanks for reading,


Recommended books:

Affiliate Disclosure: The links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you buy something through the link, I receive an affiliate commission, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. Read full affiliate disclosure here.

How to help people with Schizophrenia

As someone who has recovered from Schizophrenia, I have a unique perspective on how to help people with Schizophrenia. There are some very good resource sites on the internet to learn what you can do if someone you love has been diagnosed with the illness.

Here are my personal insights on the topic.

Learn all about the illness and how to cope Schizophrenia.

Families (very understandably) have a hard time coping, when their loved ones are out of touch with reality and might be a danger to themselves or others.

Schizophrenia is a blanket term that describes someone who is currently experiencing or has experienced psychosis. People who are going through psychosis are going through a frightening experience,

Don’t take stuff personally. The afflicted might lash out at you… if they are in a psychotic state they are out of touch with reality. Understand they are in dreamland… try to be empathetic with them, do not argue; but make sure they get help in a controlled environment.

Have patience, empathy, and faith that they will recover.

Have faith they can recover, but may not ever be quite the same.

Trauma can affect people in a way that destroys bridges… it is the way a brain physically copes with something it literally can’t cope with. Having people tell you that stuff you are seeing or hearing doesn’t exist and you are just crazy… considering you are seeing or hearing these things in a very realistic and tangible way; that in itself can be traumatic.

People who experience a psychotic episode might not necessarily be suffering PTSD, but they may come out the other side with PTSD.

I never really got quite back to my old self. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stable… but changed. The way I look at it, when a key neural-pathway breaks, it never grows back quite the same, but over time forms a new connection. In someone’s brain, that could permanently change that person’s personality, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come back to reality and stop being a threat.

A common stigma that is unfair to people with the illness is that someone who has recovered from a psychosis is still considered to be schizophrenic and a danger to people… when the recovered person actually IS 100% in reality and is not a danger to people.

Communication is problematic, patience and empathy are key.

For a moderate amount of time at the onset, I completely lost my short-term memory, although my long-term memory was just fine! Due to losing my short-term memory, I couldn’t carry on a conversation long enough to remember what I was talking about. It was terribly frustrating. But I remember all the crazy stuff I was thinking at the time, and am very humiliated to even think about it!

After the frustration of being unable to get through a sentence, the way I coped was to begin to communicate more with intuitive feelings as opposed to my thoughts, by-passing the “filter” process. This resulted in me blurting stuff out and interrupting people. I felt bad doing this because it made me come across as rude and argumentative… but I knew it was the only way I could get and message across.

During this time of problematic communication and being lost in dreamland, a lot of people stopped being my friend; very few stayed in touch to see how I was doing. I appreciate this; these people make me feel like a more valuable individual, worthy of love.

They may seem “Not There” but in reality, they are.

A person in psychosis is not gone out of his mind. He can’t communicate himself, or perhaps can’t quite access his self and misunderstands what is actually going around him. Think about a dream state. He’s living in a dream, or perhaps with one foot in dreamland and one foot in the real world. That’s a psychosis; a dis-connection with reality.

Show them you’ll be there for them.

Even if you have to distance yourself for his sake, stay in touch with family or caregivers. Certainly, your friend needs to know you are concerned; and he will find comfort in that. To have Schizophrenia is a frightening experience; and to feel abandoned on top of that, compounds the trauma.

So make attempts to re-build bridges, as you can. They may not be in reality right now, but in reality, they really do need you, very much.

With help, they will recover. Please keep faith.

With “best practices” in place in the mental health system, in families, and the community at large, up to 70% will recover.

Toward Recovery and Well-Being,

Recovered means well enough to be considered completely normal, able to hold jobs, drive, take good care of themselves and loved ones, have a social life, set and achieve goals, etc.

It takes time, treatment, medication, patience and understanding from loved ones to recover. To heal, the afflicted must accept their diagnosis, keep taking their medication, understand their symptoms, and consciously keep positive symptoms in check. When it comes to recovery, hope changes everything!

What people don’t understand, they fear. Most people with Schizophrenia never have another psychotic episode after the first one, and live in reality with as much stability as anyone else. Yet people fear them. People define even recovered individuals as “Schizophrenics”, consider them dangerous, when in fact the opposite is true. Labels and generalizations are untrue and make the traumatic illness that much harder for the afflicted to cope with.

In conclusion;

Educate yourself. Believe they will recover. Know they are ‘there’. Exercise empathy and support. Protect yourself; get your loved one psychiatric help if they are a danger to anyone. If you are keeping your distance, stay in touch with care providers and/or family to follow their recovery.

Your diligence and patience are more important to that person than you realize.

Share this post with families and loved ones of those with the illness.



Recommended online:

Recommended books:

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you buy something through the link, I receive an affiliate commission, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. Read full affiliate disclosure here.

LEARNING helped me heal from Schizo-Affective disorder

How did I recover from Schizophrenia? I’ve not fully healed, but I live a life I love and would like to share my story.

Eighteen years ago I suffered a terrible psychosis. My whole life and family were thrown into complete turmoil because of my mental illness. The time I spent in the mental hospital away from my newborn baby and husband was traumatic, it ultimately ruined my marriage, so on top of Schizophrenia I developed PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

It’s been a long, LONG, journey of recovery. Before my illness I had no trouble working or making money. I had just gotten married, life was so happy… then everything was very suddenly turned upside-down. I had to leave my job to get psychiatric treatment. Then found out I was pregnant. After treatment, I was never allowed back at my job. My husband hated mental patients, he literally told the neighbor that he was, “embarrassed to have a mental for a wife.” He left me and our son. With my crippling anxiety I was unable to care for my son… luckily my parents were willing to step up and take on his guardianship. The doctors told me there was no cure and I’d be on medications for the rest of my life.

Even though I took my medications and met with professionals for years, I continued to struggle with anxiety. I’ve been fired from dozens of jobs over the years, trying my hardest, but never being able to support myself. Living alone was not easy.

The brain takes years to heal from trauma.

Medications are and will always be a part of my daily routine. Since there is not a known cure, I concede that I will always need them; however, that does not mean I have not recovered from Schizophrenia. I function as well as almost anyone, my mental health is stable, and I’m satisfied with my life.

The brain takes a long time to heal, but with work, persistence, practice and patience, I succeeded, and I continue to succeed. You can too. More on that below.

Hope, fulfillment and success are possible even with mental illness. Whether there is a cure for your diagnosis or not, it is important to keep busy, keep hope, keep setting goals, and keep trying.

Recovery is a hard journey. Even in the face of failure after failure, it’s possible to stay positive and keep trying. You may lose faith in yourself from time to time. There may be times that you hate yourself and blame yourself for all your problems. I know all too well what that is like.

What has helped me the most was actually my deepest low, when I was locked in a room of seclusion at the mental hospital. You know what happened after that? Time moved on. I fell asleep and woke up the next morning. Things improved, bit by bit.

Back to the topic: how to heal your brain after mental illness. Work, persistence, practice, tenacity, patience.

If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Have something to focus on and think about. Try to better yourself. Here’s where learning new things can help.

Taking in new ideas and integrating them into how you operate grows the hippocampus (a part of your brain that plays a role in learning and memory), thereby improving your memory and your ability to learn.

Reading at least 15 minutes every day also flexes what I call the “brain muscle”… you know the old saying, “If you don’t use it you lose it?” That saying applies to muscles that atrophy and weaken when not used.

Don’t expect learning to be easy.

Learning about something I’m interested in has helped improve my daily life by putting new skills to use, resulting in income as well. While unemployed on social assistance, I took online courses and read books on customer service, business, money, web-design, copy-writing, sales, management, marketing, communication skills, and other personal development topics.

At first, I struggled to comprehend what I was reading. Communicating with others and retaining information was very difficult for me. When reading it would take me 5 minutes or more to get through a single page; and would get mad at myself for not retaining what I read. But I promised myself I’d read at least 15 minutes EVERY DAY, and forced myself to keep trying, even through the difficulty.

It didn’t take long before my focus and short-term memory improved. I was communicating better with people in my daily life, setting goals, and feeling way more positive about myself.

Feel good about failure; Learn from it!

I am no stranger to failing. Over the years I’ve made some poor decisions, even hit bottom and felt utterly defeated. Life is hard; but the journey everyday can be such an adventure!

When you fail, you learn what doesn’t work! That’s progress!

Life goes on. Every morning brings a new day, and a new chance to try again, or try something new.

Follow through is hard for me. I have difficulty sticking with something through to completion. I have a hard time keeping a conventional job. Often afraid of performing on a schedule, and work pressure stresses the crap out me, my anxiety can be crippling.

That’s okay though. I know that as I continue to challenge myself, keep reading and learning, I’ll have everything I need to succeed with this blog. Eventually I’ll be supporting myself, free of welfare, free to travel without work pressure, and live a lifestyle most normal people only dream of. That’s the hope, anyway, what I am working towards.

Life always gets better.

Time always moves on. I’ve learned to take comfort in this: It all comes to pass. Bad, good, everything, that is the nature of existence. Whatever bad happens, know that it is not permanent, and you’ll have better days, so take heart. Whatever good happens, know that it is not permanent… so appreciate every good moment to the fullest.

I’ve already succeeded. I may still be on welfare, but I’m making progress, and doing something I care about… helping people. Using my knowledge; feeling fulfilled.

Living the good life is not about reaching your long-term or money goals… it’s about happiness and fulfillment along the way; financial freedom is not as important as some would have you believe. If you can find and achieve a purpose in your daily life, working towards your long-term goals, you are succeeding.

If a goal doesn’t work out, just create a new goal. Live in a way you are proud of… and cut yourself slack if you need rest or want to hide from the world; go ahead, take a nap. Make a salad. Call your mom. Do whatever makes you happy.

Success is not about achievement or money; your family, your physical, mental, and emotional health are always more important. It’s about carrying on in spite of hardship, keeping faith, and doing something you believe in. BEING the person you want to be.

Don’t get me wrong, setting and achieving goals are important parts of success, but because tomorrow is never guaranteed, make success about the journey, not the destination.

Recover from Schizophrenia

While you may not be able to completely heal from Schizophrenia, as long as you faithfully take anti-psychotic medication, aim for positivity and a dedicated attitude, you can heal, grow, and accomplish anything you put your mind to. Take heart!

Hopefully my writing has inspired you, your inspiration and renewed hope has been my goal.

I’ve got a lot more to write about that can inspire you and help you along your healing journey. If you’d like, please subscribe to my blog by email so I can notify you each time I write a new post.

I look forward to reading and responding to comments. Stay in touch!


Recommended books:

Affiliate Disclosure: The links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you buy something through the link, I receive an affiliate commission, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. Read full affiliate disclosure here.

About Me

Welcome to Growth Paths! I created this site to help people (like myself) who have experienced mental illness, to find self-confidence and be proud of themselves as they travel their journey of recovery. To say it’s not easy is a HUGE understatement… hopefully my encouragement will help you along the way.


My journey has been long and deeply personal. I am not a doctor. My writings stem from over 40 years of life experience, almost half of those years of which have been spent recovering after a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder.

After the onset of my initial episode of psychosis back in 2002, I lost my career, my ability to communicate, and couldn’t even make the most basic of decisions. Healing has tested my patience, and certainly my family as well. My journey of healing continues but I am proud of the progress I have achieved, however imperfect.

My only son still lives with my parents after 17 years. He’s the pride and love of my life… a broken soul with mental illness himself though. Hopefully he can gain hope in healing and recovery as I know it is possible… but a long, lonely road. I only ask him to follow my writings… and reach out to his mom once in a while. If you are reading this my son, you are loved more deeply than you can even imagine… at least as deeply as your hurt goes… I’ll keep reaching out to the best of my own ability… but always here for you.


Coming from a place of love and understanding: I believe that it should not be considered shameful to admit that I have experienced a brain illness… there is such a terrible stigma to the topic. The people I want to help are beautiful, unique people with talents and desires… who can and should be proud of every bit of progress they make.

With almost 20 years of hurt, lessons, healing, and insights behind me to contribute to the subject, along with being a natural empath, I feel, very sincerely, for anyone who desires to gather pieces of their shattered lives and rebuild self-confidence, skills to deal with stress and anxiety, even to the actual re-development of brain health. It’s a life long journey. I plan on writing for the long haul, so please stay tuned. I care about people, and I look forward to reading and responding to your comments, for sure!


To provide inspiration and encouragement along the journey of people rebuilding mental health and happiness after devastating mental illness setbacks.

To make available learning tools for healing and growth, to rebuild neural-pathways through reading mainly personal development and self-help books. Brain healing is something that takes a lot of time, patience, and regular practice.

Practice and dedication… exercise. Flexing your brain muscles… learning. Mind exercise… reading, coloring, developing positive habits, goal setting, getting out there, achieving goals. Then, setting bigger goals. Taking the bad with the good. Loving life, finding lessons in failures, aka opportunities for growth and the chance to conquer challenges.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Elaine N.