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Personal Story: Living Life

Personal Story: Living Life


No one wants to hear that something is wrong with their mind. Tell them they have a heart condition, diabetes, or any other myriad of “normal” disease and nine times out of ten they’ll handle it better than hearing that they have a mental health condition.

In my case, being diagnosed at 19 with a mental illness which could potentially last a lifetime and I may have to take medication for just as long was like getting a death sentence. After all, I had just started life. But over the years, and after some very traumatic hospital visits, I’ve taught myself strategies to get through tough days.  It took a long time to learn these simple steps but they’ve helped me get well and stay well.

  • Attitude is everything! A good positive attitude is crucial for a healthy mind. Your attitude toward your doctor, medication and this illness will make or break you. Thinking happy positive thoughts develops a happy positive person!
  • I believe the key to healing is changing the way you think about this illness and life in general. Most psychiatric patients have very low self-esteem and some even hate themselves. Changing destructive outlooks is half the battle. If we teach ourselves to think differently we will feel differently.
  • For example: Stop saying “MY” illness, i.e., “my” depression, “my” sadness etc. People with mental illness are often labeled for the rest of their lives. Any semblance of who we once were gets lost in a label. Remember who you used to be before your diagnosis?  Were you good at sports? Did you like art?  Do you enjoy music and if so can you play an instrument? Remember who you really are and move in this direction.

With the right attitude this illness can be a bump in the road and not something you have to carry on your shoulders for the rest of your life. This is not a death sentence!

  • Redirect your thinking! Think about something other than being sick! What are your goals for the future? Just because you have been diagnosed with a mental illness does not mean you have no future.  You do!  But it takes a healthy attitude towards medication – taking it when needed, eating right, healthy thinking, etc. Start thinking of ways to help others.  When you get your mind off yourself you’d be amazed at how much better you feel.
  • If you wake up every day and force yourself to think happy thoughts from the beginning of the day everything changes.

For example: The moment you wake up, before stepping out of bed or putting your feet on the ground say OUT LOUD: “Today is going to be a good day and no matter what happens, good or bad I will NOT let it get to me.  I am happy, healthy and whole and I can handle anything that comes my way!”

I’m now 51 years old, been married for 25 years and have two beautiful grown children.  It’s been almost 30 years since I was in the hospital so I’m living proof you can live a normal life despite a mental health diagnosis.  Never give up. Never give in. You are so much stronger than you think.