When you’re diagnosed with a mental illness, it can be frustrating or even terrifying to consider what your future holds. Since most mental disorders have no cure, only treatments, you might be afraid that your life will never be “normal” or “healthy.” It’s true that you most likely will have to manage your mental health condition for the rest of your life, but it’s not true that you will never be able to find healing and live a full, happy life.
There is a whole world of mental health services available to you, and it’s important you pursue that kind of support throughout your experience with mental illness. If you’re under 18, consider talking to your parents early on so that you can use their health insurance to regularly check in with your primary care physician. Your doctor may recommend a therapist for counseling or a psychiatrist for medication, both of which are highly effective ways to manage your symptoms.
It’s also important to share your story with trusted friends and family. One of the worst things for someone struggling with their mental health is isolation, so even when all you want to do is crawl into your bed and disappear for a while, never stop reaching out to the people in your life. You may be worried you will start to become a burden to your loved ones if you share your worries and needs with them, but the people who truly love you would never want you to feel alone. Because you’re not alone! There are always people around who want to listen and offer kindness. If you’re not sure who to talk to, you can start by reaching out to one of our Hope Coaches.
A mental illness is a tough diagnosis to receive. Even in 2022, there is still some stigma surrounding the topic of mental health. From scary movies that portray mental illness patients as violent, unstable, or suicidal to schools and communities with a simple lack of education about mental health, you may not know much about what a healthy life with mental illness looks like. It’s easy to view your diagnosis as something terribly wrong with you, something to be embarrassed about, or something that takes away your future. Accepting that you are a person with a mental illness is going to be one of the most important steps in your healing journey.
Learning to see yourself as beautiful, whole, functional, and lovable not despite but including your condition… that is the process of acceptance. It may take a while, since your early days post-diagnosis may be consumed with finding your new normal, proper medication, and exploring what kinds of support work for you. But once you are able to manage your symptoms reliably, accepting who you are and what it takes for you to be healthy is going to help you heal far more than resisting or hating your diagnosis would.
In fact, the refusal to accept your diagnosis is actually a common symptom of many mental health disorders. If you’re struggling to believe that you have a condition you’ve been diagnosed with, reach out to your support system to talk about how you can reach a place of acceptance. When it comes to your mental health, denial is just as dangerous as isolation. You are not “less than” if you own who you are, including your mental illness. Acceptance is the only road toward healing if you want to live a full life!
Once you have built a strong support system and come to a place of acceptance about your mental health, the key to living healthily is to be consistent about giving yourself what you need to be successful. Check-in with your support system regularly. Make it a habit to talk to your friends and family members about what’s going on in your life. Find a good therapist or counselor and see them regularly. Even when you’re not in “crisis mode,” consistent talk therapy is a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of your mental state. Maintain a schedule with your primary care physician or psychiatrist so that new symptoms, mood swings, or dosage needs don’t go unnoticed. You can’t always prevent your mental illness from manifesting, but consistent treatment and support can definitely help manage it.
Over time, you may notice that there are certain triggers for your condition. Common ones are life transitions like the end of a semester, graduating, moving, and starting/ending important relationships. Learn to anticipate if there’s something coming up that might make your anxiety or depression a little worse for a while, and set up ways you can feel extra supported during those times. Becoming familiar with what helps you, and taking the necessary steps to make sure you have what you need, helps you to build trust in yourself–trust that you are able to function with your mental illness. Commit to staying vigilant with your mental health!
The most important element in your healing process, though, is hope. You must believe that an abundant, healthy future is available to you! Thankfully, that doesn’t have to be a blind belief. There is so much evidence that, despite stigma, you can thrive with a mental illness. For starters, look into the life stories of incredible figures throughout history, and you’ll find so many of your favorite celebrities and leaders were able to excel while dealing with disorders like ADHD, PTSD, major depression, social anxiety disorder, OCD, eating disorders, and more. Just because you’ve received a similar diagnosis doesn’t mean you’ll never be successful in this world.
Beyond surface level achievements, though, it’s also quite possible to feel great love, joy, and even peace in the midst of your mental condition. Your diagnosis has not cheated you out of any life experience you could have hoped for. No mental illness changes who you are or how valuable you are. You are still you, fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of Someone who sees you as perfect and wants you to live abundantly. Have hope! Your diagnosis doesn’t have to mean that your life is over. If you’re struggling to see the light at the end of the mental health tunnel, we get it. Reach out to a Hope Coach, and we’ll share our hope with you.
It's important to feel connected when struggling with a mental illness. Learn more about ways isolation can negatively impact mental health.