This Is What It’s Like: Living With Mental Illness

One in five Americans suffers from a mental illness each year. One in twenty-five Americans suffers from a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. For many of those suffering, their illness feels like a rollercoaster ride that never ends. Their emotions and mental condition are constantly changing.

Unfortunately, mental illness is often misunderstood. Many people have a set opinion of what the condition is and what those suffering from the condition should be like. Each case is different. Even though two individuals may suffer from the same condition, their symptoms and attitudes could vary greatly. Most forms of mental illness are best treated through psychotherapy because each case is so different that the treatment must be personal to the individual to be effective.

Living With Mental Illness

When you live each day with mental illness, you may begin to wonder if something is going on. Many people do not even realize that they are suffering from a mental illness, they just assume that these thoughts and feelings are a part of who they are. 

However, it is not healthy to continue living with strong, negative feelings. At the very least talk therapy should be attended to work through these feelings. Your therapist will be able to distinguish between a client experiencing hard times and a client suffering from an underlying mental health condition.

The Diagnosis

Receiving a diagnosis is a huge first step towards managing your mental illness, but that does not mean it is the easiest. In all honesty, it may be the most difficult thing to do. It is not uncommon for people to try to deny the existence of their mental illness. They may see it as something wrong with them, or they may worry about the cost and amount of time treatment may take. 

Receiving a mental health diagnosis is not the easiest thing to do. Depending on the symptoms, a physical exam and lab tests may be necessary. A psych evaluation is also likely. Once it is determined that there is no physical reason for the symptoms, mental health will be considered.

At this point, it is time to consider which illness you may have. This can be an extremely difficult task. Many forms of mental illness have symptoms that overlap and many of those suffering have no idea what their illness may be. Family history will be taken into consideration as many forms of mental illness are hereditary. The psychologist will utilize family history and the DSM-5 to diagnose a mental illness. 


Once a diagnosis has been obtained, a treatment option will be selected. Most forms of mental illness are treated with psychotherapy and medication. This is the most effective treatment because the symptoms must be managed. The best way to manage the symptoms is to utilize a variety of techniques. These techniques vary based on the condition. 

Receiving treatment can be difficult. Many people have preconceived notions regarding therapy and may fight. The best thing to do is to embrace talk therapy and openly share thoughts and feelings. Though this may be difficult at first, it is something that will come in time. 

Communicate openly with the treatment team. This team includes family physicians, therapists, family members, social workers, and psychiatrists. Each of these people is invested in the treatment and eager to help.

Final Thoughts

If you or someone you love believes that they are suffering from a mental illness, the best thing you can do is speak with a therapist. They should be able to determine whether you are going through a hard time or suffering from a mental health condition. 
If you or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please reach out. Those suffering from mental illness are at a higher risk of committing suicide. Learning to manage your condition can ease these thoughts and help you live a happier life.

Published by alswartz

I am an aspiring novelist working on my first book. I have an interest in mental health and each of my works is related to mental health in some way.

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