7 Things to Remember when You Have a Mental Illness ...

We know just how difficult it can be to live with a mental illness which is why we are grateful for guest contributor Diana's post on how to deal with one. Thanks Diana for your insightful contribution!

Mental illness affects 1 in 5 people in the United States. There is quite a stigma attached to any type of mental illness. Some people seem to think they will «catch it». Below are some great tips and things to remember to help you feel better.

1. Emotions

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You are not your emotions. They are things you feel. There are times you feel sad and angry, some days suicidal. When you feel these things, it does not mean that you are that type of person. You can be a mother, a lawyer, a person working from home. Your emotions are just that, emotions that you feel at a time and place when something upsetting happens. It does not mean that you can’t be smart, funny or pretty. It just means that at that moment you are having a bad day and feeling those certain emotions.

2. Talk

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There is mental health help in almost any city or town you live in. Some of the best places to go to are free. For instance, your county’s mental health office. Many therapists will set up a sliding scale payment fee for you. Even your family doctor can help out. Just be sure to reach out and talk to someone.

3. Disease

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Mental illness is a disease just like heart problems or diabetes. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed. It can be very difficult when you are first diagnosed. It can also take years to get a diagnosis. Be persistent, keep going to the doctor and go until you get the help you need. Some of the causes can be biological, hormonal imbalances or inherited from your family. Trauma also plays a big part; a person with early childhood trauma may be more prone to having a mental illness. There are many types of mental illness: Bipolar disorder, personality disorder, schizophrenia, major depression and anxiety. The good thing is there are ways to feel better and to manage your illness.

4. DBT

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DBT stands for dialectical behavioral therapy. You learn how to stay in the present. They teach you to listen to your gut, intuition and how to balance your logical mind with your emotional mind. The idea is to keep yourself in the present basically. Try to stay calm and take good care of yourself.

5. Journal

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It does help to write down what you are thinking, feeling, hoping for, wishing for, etc. I have sat and just started writing, even if it doesn't make sense or is just a bunch of nasty words. It helps get them out of your head. You take the negative thoughts and put them on paper.

6. Exercise

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Exercise is very important. I walk and I notice if I do so every day, then I am in a better mood. Exercise releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in your body. It greatly reduces your stress, helps ward off depression, boosts your self-esteem and can help you sleep better.

7. Call 911

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If you have no other option for help please call 911. You may be uncomfortable but if you need the help it is the fastest way to get it. The police and hospital staff are trained to deal with you properly. They will get a staff member from behavioral health to come and talk with you. The doctor gets blood work to make sure there is nothing going on in your body. If needed they may put you in the hospital for a few days.

I myself suffer with bipolar disorder and PTSD. It is very challenging at times. I have a hard time living with myself some days. On the days I feel good it is wonderful. I try to go with the flow and do the best I can.

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