Why Goals Matter To Those With Mental Health Problems

I talk and think about goals a lot. When I say a lot, I mean at least every hour if not more. It’s something that my mind naturally focuses on. A lot of people often criticise this thought process. Why should someone who is still recovering constantly be thinking about present goals and future accomplishments?

That’s a rhetorical question but I do have an answer. We should because we are still human. Everybody has goals; both big and small. It makes us focus. It makes us ambitious. It makes us determined. Those desires are good for people, especially those who suffer from a mental health issue. Also for me, nothing rivals that incredible feeling of completing a goal, especially a long-term one. The mixture of relaxation, happiness and so many other positive emotions is something I just can’t describe. I feel like all those feelings and desires are mutual. However, there are two differences in our goals; how simple they are and how personal they are.

I’m cautious about using the word ‘simple’. It has such a debatable and individual meaning so it can be taken in any direction. I’m especially cautious as I’m using it in the context of mental health. My simple goal this year was to just finish the college year and hopefully pass it too. It’s something I didn’t accomplish before due to my mental breakdown. As someone who relies a lot on my intelligence to aid my confidence, the completion was a big deal for me. Now, I know this doesn’t exactly seem like a simple goal. Trust me, I get it. Let me just elaborate on my meaning of simple. Simple is defined by something having little detail. The goal to ‘complete the college year’ isn’t followed by numerous questions, instructions or steps. It’s simply just the goal. Nothing more than that.

Now the college goal can also be classed as a personal one. It has a lot to do with how my intelligence contributes to my confidence. Yet that’s not the only reason for it being so personal. I was always seen as the smart one by everyone around me; friends, teachers and family. When I quit college, I felt like that perception of me was destroyed. Though the perception was always a burden, it was what I based my external self on. Don’t get me wrong that’s not exactly something healthy, and I have realised I don’t need to that anymore. Yet this goal comes from years of personal experience and growth none the less.

I mention the college goal for a huge reason. On June 4th, I successfully completed that goal. It was a huge step for me and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Don’t get me wrong I’ve cried happy tears and said “I’ve done it” too many times than I wish to mention. It just doesn’t seem real yet. I’ve worked on this since June 2017 and it’s something that’s both consumed a lot of my progress and caused a lot of anxiety for me. I thought that once I completed the goal there would be birds tweeting and rainbows everywhere. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen.

The completion of this goal didn’t cause me to get better, I recovered while completing my goal. Compared to where I was last year, I’m basically a new person now. However, I didn’t notice that until recently. I may have looked at my goal from the wrong angle but it doesn’t mean it didn’t help me. In fact, in a way, maybe it helped to save me in my dark moments.

For anyone that has been affected by any mental health condition, here are a few websites that could be useful to you:

ThinkTwice – A mental health charity aiming to raise awareness and fight the stigma attached to mental health

YoungMinds – A mental health charity focusing on children and adolescents

Mind – A mental health charity providing information and services such as counselling in local areas

MindTools – A guide on how to set good personal goals

These mental-health links should not be used to self-diagnose, if you feel you have a mental-health issue please go and see a health professional

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