“I almost feel lucky.”
When you’re dealing with mental illness, it can be hard to tease out what’s “normal” and when your emotions and behaviors are something to be more concerned about. Everyone feels a little sad, anxious, antisocial, or obsessive sometimes. But for anyone dealing with a mental illness, these emotions have been amplified to an extent that they having a notable negative impact on your ability to succeed in relationships, work, and school, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. (Here are signs of a mental health disorder you might be ignoring.)
By definition, a mental health condition negatively impacts a person’s life, but with proper diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management, living a healthier life is possible. HealthiNation interviewed a group of people living with mental illnesses about how they reclaimed their lives after a mental health diagnosis—and even learned to embrace the condition itself.
Take advantage of the positives
“I definitely feel that my anxiety has given me a lot of positives, and that wasn’t easy for me to say a few years ago. I’m basically taking my dysfunction and I’ve made it my function, so I actually embrace the fact that I have anxiety and that it makes me really good at what I do.”
—Trish Barillas, living with anxiety
Different is just different—not bad
“You grow up thinking that you’re not like everyone else, [or] you’re different, and maybe that’s not a good thing. But in reality, it’s not a bad different. It’s just a different different, and you just have to learn how to cope with things in a different way than ‘normal’ people do.”
—Lauren Klinger, living with ADHD
Keep working toward a better life
“I think the difference between me and others is that I have never stopped ‘working it’ and getting the help that I need to just keep going so I didn’t have to feel so horrible. To know there are other possibilities, and I didn’t have to live like that.”
—Nancy Snell, living with depression
Look for opportunities to use your condition for good
“Some amazing things have come out of my journey. I talk to family groups, and one of the things they always talk about is how sad they are that their child won’t have the opportunities that they wanted them to have because they’re bipolar. … It’s opened up a world of opportunities for me. [By] teaching other people about it, I help them accept it. It’s huge. I feel so lucky to be involved. I almost feel lucky that I have bipolar disorder because it’s brought me to where I am today.”
—Mitzi Bockmann, living with bipolar disorder
Find creative outlets
“I’m just really glad that I found creative outlets, and photography helped me to get out my door.”
—Danielle Gitkin Hark, living with depression
“I just have to kind of tell myself that this is who I am, and there is nothing wrong with me … and this is okay.”
—Matt Berman, living with OCD
There are strengths in having quirks
“As his mom, I had to stop seeing it as something bad—as something negative. I had to start seeing it as something positive. I began to look for his strengths. It’s okay to be cool, it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be quirky.”
—Alisha Griffith, mother of a son with autism
00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:02,480
00:00:02,480 --> 00:00:07,279
I definitely feel that my anxiety
has given me a lot of positives, and
00:00:07,279 --> 00:00:10,530
that wasn't easy for
me to say a few years ago.
00:00:10,530 --> 00:00:14,920
00:00:14,920 --> 00:00:19,940
So, I've basically taken my dysfunction
and I've made it my function.
00:00:19,940 --> 00:00:23,780
So I actually embrace the fact
that I have anxiety and
00:00:23,780 --> 00:00:25,960
that it makes me really good at what I do.
00:00:25,960 --> 00:00:30,260
you grow up thinking that you're not
like everyone else, you're different.
00:00:30,260 --> 00:00:32,320
And maybe, that's not a good thing, but
00:00:32,320 --> 00:00:36,230
in reality, it's not a bad different,
it's just a different different.
00:00:36,230 --> 00:00:39,523
And you just have to learn how to cope
with things in a different way than what
00:00:39,523 --> 00:00:43,300
quote unquote normal people do.
I always say I come to it honestly.
00:00:43,300 --> 00:00:47,750
I think the difference between me and
others is that I have never
00:00:47,750 --> 00:00:52,670
stopped working it and getting the help
that I need to just keep going.
00:00:52,670 --> 00:00:56,690
So I didn't have to feel so horrible to
know that there are other possibilities
00:00:56,690 --> 00:01:00,940
and I don't have to live like that.
Some amazing things have come out
00:01:00,940 --> 00:01:01,532
of my journey.
00:01:01,532 --> 00:01:02,910
I talk to family groups.
00:01:02,910 --> 00:01:06,070
And one of that things they
always talk about is how sad they
00:01:06,070 --> 00:01:08,680
are that their child won't
have the opportunities
00:01:08,680 --> 00:01:11,320
that they wanted them to have
because they are bipolar.
00:01:11,320 --> 00:01:14,230
And it's for me it's opened up
a world of opportunities for me.
00:01:14,230 --> 00:01:16,670
And teaching other people about it and
I help them accept it.
00:01:16,670 --> 00:01:17,500
And that's huge.
00:01:17,500 --> 00:01:20,130
I mean I feel so lucky to be involved.
00:01:20,130 --> 00:01:22,710
I'm almost feel lucky that
I have bipolar disorder.
00:01:22,710 --> 00:01:27,590
Cuz, it's brought me to where I am today.
I'm just really glad that I found
00:01:27,590 --> 00:01:29,430
creative outlets and
00:01:29,430 --> 00:01:34,880
photography helped me to get out my door.
I just have to kinda
00:01:34,880 --> 00:01:40,620
tell myself that this is who I am and
there's nothing wrong with me and
00:01:40,620 --> 00:01:43,330
this is okay.
As his mom,
00:01:43,330 --> 00:01:49,160
I had to stop seeing it as something bad,
as something negative.
00:01:49,160 --> 00:01:52,660
I had to start seeing it
as something positive.
00:01:52,660 --> 00:01:54,390
I began to look for his strengths.
00:01:54,390 --> 00:01:58,326
Like, it's okay to be cool, it's okay to
be different, it's okay to be quirky.
00:01:58,326 --> 00:02:02,793
Mental health conditions. Arlington, VA: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (Accessed on March 19, 2018 at https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions.)