Living with any mental illness is never easy. Nowhere is this more true that when a person has to deal with the likes of schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder.
Sometimes treatments don’t seem to work as effectively as promised. Other times we run into friends or family members just not really knowing how to act around you. It can be overwhelming, challenging, and frustrating — all in the scope of one day.
Over the past two decades, we’ve made great strides in people understanding that mental illness is not due to a personal failing or just some problem that we self-created. While I wouldn’t characterize stigma as being dead when it comes to mental illness, I will say it’s taken quite a beating with empathy, understanding and knowledge.
Living with mental illness day in and day out is something I hope none of you will ever have to experience. But if you do — or know of a loved one who’s grappling with one — I hope these words may help a bit.
There are too many challenges to list when living with a mental illness, but here are a few of the more common ones:
- What do you do when treatment stops working, or becomes less effective over time?
- How do you have that conversation with your friend or co-worker about your mental illness?
- How do you tell your family (or do you at all)? How much should you share with them??
- What do you do when your treatment providers minimize your pain or feelings?
- What do you do when your therapist decides it’s time to end therapy, but you don’t feel ready yet?
- How do you manage to hold down a job when you oftentimes feel like your symptoms are barely in check?
- How do you deal with the ups and downs of your illness, where on some days you feel something close to “normal” and other days, you just want everyone to leave you alone?
For some of these questions, there is one or “right” answer to them. Some of it will depend on how you’re feeling, what your relationship with others is, etc.
But we’ve tried, nonetheless, to try and capture some of these “living with…” issues here at Psych Central. We’re going to be growing and adding to these sections in the upcoming months, because we know that living with a mental illness can be even more challenging than your initial diagnosis and treatment for one.
Living with a Mental Illness Series
- Living with Depression
- Living with Bipolar Disorder
- Living with Chronic Pain and Depression
- Living with ADHD
- Living with an Anxiety Disorder
- Living with Schizophrenia
- Living with Schizoaffective Disorder
- What OCD Feels Like
- Living with Co-Occurring Mental & Substance Abuse Disorders
- Living with Borderline Personality Disorder
We’re going to continue to add new disorders to this list, as well as expand upon these sections to help people not just live with a disorder, but also thrive while living.
I also want to highlight two stories I think you should especially read, given that this year’s World Mental Health Day topic is “Living with Schizophrenia:”
- Living with Schizophrenia
Mike Hedrick, a regular contributor to Psych Central, tells his poignant story of living with schizophrenia.
- Joshua’s Story: Living with Schizophrenia
This is an interview piece with another person who lives with schizophrenia and took part in a documentary.
I hope this helps people living with a mental illness to get a step headed in the right direction.