Living with a Mental Illness: What I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

Living with a Mental Illness: What I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger


  1. You don’t have to chase after a “normal” life. A normal life is not necessarily the goal of recovery – even if your friends and family think otherwise. Do what works for you.
  2. Find a way to embrace and celebrate your uniqueness. I’ve learned it’s better to accept your differences than to change them. You’re going to stand out and you have to find the confidence to be okay with that.
  3. Beware of people that invalidate your thoughts and feelings because you’re mentally ill. It’s really just an excuse for them to not hold themselves accountable. Watch for phrases like “too sensitive” and “crazy” and then find more thoughtful and understanding people to hang out with. 
  4. Medications are great but therapy is also really helpful. There have been so many times in my life when I said I’m on medication and don’t require therapy but really the ideal situation is having both.
  5. You are not damaged. You are just as worthy as everyone else. A mental illness doesn’t make you less than others. You are deserving of a fulfilling life and a seat at the table.
  6. A wise man with a similar diagnosis once told me that sometimes you have to stretch yourself to see what you are truly capable of. I actually took this advice when I was younger and it has served me greatly through the years.


People in recovery, what would you add to the list? For everyone – what are some things you knew when you were younger? What would’ve been helpful? What would have saved you some heartache?


  1. Karl Random says

    I don’t have mental illness to speak of, but my partner does. I think, we’re probably doing almost everything wrong. But here are a few things that sometimes help:
    > Different places are like different states of mind. If home is where you spend your time hurting, going elsewhere can be good for a short jailbreak. If we were wealthy, I’d probably take his ass on vacation all year long. Run from the pain, heh.
    > Sometimes when something feels extra bad in the moment, it’s tempting to avoid it. Be careful what ground you cede to bad thoughts because it might be nigh impossible to take it back.
    > Active entertainment (stuff where you have to do something, like RPGs or video games, as opposed to passive entertainment, like reading or watching movies and TV) can have powerful use. It might help you get through a bad moment, have something else to focus on. But you have to be careful it’s not making things worse in some way. RPGs particularly are full of psychological landmines, but video games all interact with our brains differently. One game might be great, and another pure trash, judged solely by what it does to you.
    > Passive entertainment has its uses. My father sleeps with the TV on because it helps prevent nightmares for him. If you zonk out to passive stuff, it can be putting off mentally engaging with your problem. If it goes well, you could calm down and face those problems refreshed. But it might just make your mood and abilities worse by the time you’re done. Gotta check in with yourself to see how it’s working.

  2. brightmoon says

    I’ve CPTSD from from a toxic childhood. I also used to think I was too sensitive until I realized that I was deliberately ignoring my feelings and that was causing me to have toxic relationships.

  3. brightmoon says

    Putting up with my mother’s self hating misogyny from a toxic Southern Baptist upbringing mixed with a violent misogynistic father and I suffered from extreme anxiety and depression. I never got treated for it as a child or teen because my parents preferred me being depressed and anxious . It’s one of the reasons I went no/low contact . The anxiety lessened considerably when I started doing yoga and dancing . It felt like I was drowning in the anxiety and the physical activity and celebrating my creativity made me feel like at least hold my head up out of the anxiety flood. At that point I did realize that my folks were responsible for a lot of the depression I was feeling . My parents misogyny had more of an negative effect on me than racism did . I could ignore or fight back against the few slights I had to put up with. I know that was unusual because I was born in the 50s .

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