On Where to Draw Boundaries and Lines in the Sand…

Quite a few people reach out to me in the hopes of gaining some understanding of what their mentally ill loved one is going through. One of the most common strings of questions I receive goes something like this: “Where do I draw the line? How will I know when enough is enough? Where does compassion end and accountability start for destructive behavior?”

There is a simple answer. The line is drawn wherever you want to draw it. That’s as complicated as it needs to be. No one but you can decide what you are willing to deal with. No one but you can decide where your compassion needs to end. You are the only one that can make that decision for yourself, based on your personal circumstances. And if you’re confused and unsure? Get off the internet and talk to a certified mental health counselor about the situation.

There are no internet articles that are going to be able to replace that important knowledge and neutral, third party perspective.

And it would be lovely if the more vocal, compassionate people of the world would stop pushing the romanticized narrative that martyring oneself is a good and noble choice. It’s not. It’s short-sighted and destructive. The stains, wounds, and scars of staying in an abusive situation, regardless of the cause, do not just disappear after. They may linger and continue to be destructive even decades later.

Then you have the generic, blanket advice to clearly state one’s boundary and enforce it. Okay. And if the other person is a skilled manipulator who can gauge how to coast just below that boundary to be destructive, but without overstepping? What about people who have been in emotionally abusive relationships that have been conditioned by an abusive partner to bend their boundaries?

Blanket statements can cause a person to give up far too much information to someone who may be adept at wielding that information as a weapon to harm. Anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship knows that honesty is an impossibility in that kind of situation. That person knows that what they say or do can, will, and often be used against them.

Always be wary of who you discuss the issue of boundaries with and treat their words with skepticism. They are not you. It is so easy for someone sitting outside of the situation to tell you to keep going through hell because they believe it’s the compassionate or right thing to do, when they aren’t the one suffering. That’s not their decision to make for you.

And in my personal experience, having listened to the survivors of these situations for years now, women tend to get the worst end of that. For men, it’s typically, “She’s crazy. You should dump her.” For women, it’s typically, “You need to be more supportive and understanding. It’s your job to keep things together.” Which is total bullshit on so many levels.

Draw the line wherever you want. You are the only one that can decide what you are willing to suffer through. No one else is going to live your life 24/7. No one else is going to have to deal with the consequences of that choice. You are your own person. No one has the right to tell you how compassionate you should or shouldn’t be.

Anyone that would criticize you for choosing your own survival and well-being is not worth listening to.

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Musing and Thoughts on the Future…

Hello, friends. Been awhile, hasn’t it? My last couple of posts over the past few months have been kind of vague, sort of updates, sort of not. I’ve been doing a lot of introspection on my direction and trajectory, what I want to and can accomplish, as well as life. Blog posting kind of fell by the wayside in all of that. I’ve still been doing what I normally do, answer emails and comments, quietly and behind the scenes, as many of you who have reached out to me in the past know.

I figured I would talk to you all about some of my thoughts, ideas, and concerns; as a way to provide a meaningful update, feedback, and a glimpse into the consideration I put into my work.

On Books and eBooks…

About two years ago, I made the decision to write eBooks, and so far wrote two, what I felt to be fairly digestible works. In trying to write a third, I hit a point where it felt so flimsy. I’ve been blogging about and commenting on Bipolar Disorder for over five years now – blog posts, comments, numerous conversations, thousands of emails, and it all just feels flimsy. There are literally trillions of webpages out there. I don’t want to produce something that can disappear in an instant.

It took awhile for me to figure out I was wrong, that the people urging me to just write regular books and offer electronic versions was a better plan. And so that’s what I’m going to shift my writing toward. I already have two strong ideas that will be an excellent start. I’m still not keen on the idea of writing a full-blown memoir though, which several people have asked about. I honestly don’t feel like they are all that helpful, but I wonder if that has something to do with autistic disconnect?

I’ve tried reading a few, and I just don’t feel like I venture forth onto that person’s emotional journey with them. So, I don’t know.

On the Podcast…

I had teased the idea for a podcast in the past couple of posts. I ran into a lot of problems, both technical and within myself, in trying to figure out how to approach it. The first issue is that I’m a much better writer than speaker, and not in the way that most people think. Being High-Functioning Autistic, speech can be difficult with emotions involved, which is going to be a thing in speaking about my mental illness. It’s easier in a one-on-one format. Much more intimidating with the consideration of how many people will hear it.

The second is in general perception. I often wonder what impression my audience actually does have of me? Because usually, the only thing I hear are criticisms about how angry my writing sounds. In reality, I’m not an angry person at all in my personal life. I channel passion, and yes, anger, into my work because I am angry at the general state of the world. Will people who follow my writing expect me to rant and rave? Will they be disappointed or disillusioned if I don’t? Will I alienate or let down people who have read and supported my efforts for years? Again, I really don’t know.

The closest niche I sit in is self-improvement, the whole coaching/consulting world. And that world is filled with fake smiles, shallow affirmations, and people trying to peddle happiness like it’s some tangible product on a shelf. I don’t have the energy or patience for fake smiles. I don’t know if everything is going to be alright – plenty of times it won’t be. And I have no happiness to sell you or anyone else. It took me decades to find any kind of real happiness within myself. It’s not something you can promise anyone else.

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you too long. I apologize for the lack of meaningful, public facing content the past few months. I’ve been heavily distracted with life and trying to figure out my path. I’m still here and in it for the long haul, just trying to figure things out. Feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts or opinions. Thank you for being here and for following my work. I appreciate you.

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Just an Update…

Wow. I did not realize it’s been a month and a half since I last posted! I think a bit of an update is an order. Let me start by saying, thank you to all of the people who reach out to me when I poof for a bit. I do appreciate your concern for my well-being. I’m quite an introvert, so when things are kind of bumpy, I tend to retreat into myself to deal with things. Let’s me give you an update…

1. My brain is in a pretty level place again. I dealt with the difficulties that came up, using many of the suggestions and points I’ve put out there. Tides rise, tides fall. Just the nature of Bipolar Disorder, really.

2. I had been working on an ebook over the past several months. About a month ago, while trying to communicate a point, I had an epiphany. The realization struck me that I did not understand what I was talking about well enough to create a piece of work that would stand up to scrutiny. I don’t talk about my creative process a great deal, but I spend a lot of time polishing to ensure that my writing won’t be harmful. And I don’t feel like what I was working on abides by that rule. I have decided to shelf that work for the time being and shift my focus to something else.

3. I previously announced that I was working on a podcast. This has turned out to be more challenging than initially anticipated. I am still working towards this, but I’m not sure when it’s going to come, exactly. Yay for teaching myself new things…and all of the things that inevitably go wrong in that process. The podcast is shifting to be a main focus for me. I think it will offer a lot of value.

Anyway, I hope things are going well for you all! Thank you for being here, for reading my work, and the support you show me. I do appreciate it.

-Dennis

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The Joys of Unexpected Events and Bipolar Disorder

The unexpected can easily threaten one’s stability and well-being when you are mentally ill. For the better part of January, I have been largely quiet on my blog. The reason is due to an unexpected circumstance that threatened an unwell cycle. Thanks to medication, practices I learned in therapy, and the knowledge I have built about how my mental illness affects me specifically, I was able to keep that stress from exploding into a full-blown unwell cycle.

The benefit of psych medication, for me, is that it prevents Bipolar Disorder from pulling my mind out into extremes. There are times when I feel like my brain is trying to escalate or crash into depression but it just hits a metaphorical wall and won’t go any further than that. But it does still like to hang out in those more troublesome areas where greater volatility can further threaten my stability.

And that’s where practices I learned in therapy and on my own come into play.

I think most people can agree that the more you dwell on a matter, the greater power you give it to affect you. In dealing with a mood disorder, dwelling on stresses, emotions, and other troubling circumstances not only fans the flames, but throws more fuel on them so they just burn brighter.

I strive to limit the amount of attention I give to circumstances that are beyond my control. In this case, I was unenrolled from a program that was paying my Medicare premiums about three months ago, but they did not actually adjust what I was receiving from Disability. I received no notification that this was happening, for whatever reason. I found this out when the government reclaimed those funds through a deduction that cut January’s payment by 2/3rds.

Shit situation? Absolutely. Anything I can do about it? Not according to Social Security.

It’s important to confront problems head on. The longer they fester, the worse off they will get. Ignoring them is the worst thing you can do. But, it’s really easy for anxiety, depression, or Bipolar Disorder to make everything feel overwhelming. We need to attempt to strike a middle ground. I do that by dedicating a certain amount of time to working on that problem and then forcing my brain onto different subject matter. This is not something that is easy to do initially! It’s a skill you need to work on. It does get easier with time and effort.

In this case, I allotted two hours to researching what happened and looking for a solution (not counting the time I spent on hold!) That culminated in a handful of phone calls to various offices and discovering there was nothing I could do to affect the situation. From there, any additional thoughts or energy dedicated to it would simply be wasted. It’s just potential fuel for the fires of unwellness to ignite and burn.

Whenever I find myself dwelling on what happened, I redirect my thoughts onto something else that requires greater focus. The more complex, the more I get immersed, the less energy I’m giving to thoughts that could spiral out of control.

This also works pretty well in trying to support a loved one who is being hit with unwell or anxiety-driven thoughts. If I know what the person’s interests are, I will ask them what their favorite thing about that interest is. As I get them talking about it, I’ll just keep asking questions about various details about the hobby or thing until I can tell they are calming down. If I don’t know, I’ll just ask them what their favorite thing is and start unwinding from there. It can take a few minutes, but it’s a really good way to derail anxiety or unwell thoughts.

I would like to close off this post by thanking the several people who sent me, “are you okay?” messages. I do appreciate them. I am okay, just dealing with my mental illness.

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4 Thoughts on Marriage, Long-Term Relationships, and Bipolar Disorder

Everyone needs love in their life. Like many mentally ill people, I have experienced a great deal of turmoil in all facets of my life, including romance. I’ve been engaged twice, but never married. I was diagnosed and started on my recovery path around the same time that my second engagement ended.

I distinctly remember her expressions of pained confusion as my mind melted down. At the time I was diagnosed, I decided to just stay single because I was tired of dragging people I loved through pain and misery with me. But, after three years working on recovery, I began to see that it was certainly possible to have a long-term, happy relationship as a mentally ill person. The problem is that a lot of the advice and information out there is aimed at a generic, lowest common denominator “typical” person.

The following thoughts are derived from my own recovery, as well as listening to the woes of several married couples where Bipolar Disorder is present. Your mileage may vary.

1. Accept that not everyone can handle mental illness.

You don’t have to look far to find articles about how people with mental illness need kindness, compassion, and understanding. That is true. However, it’s also true that not everyone has a thick enough skin to handle mental illness. It can be frightening, disturbing, and confusing. Not everyone can handle that, and that’s okay.

It is worthwhile to consider what kind of experience and opinions a potential partner holds about mental illness. Have they ever been emotionally close to a mentally ill person before? Do they accept it is a medical problem, an illness? What kind of challenges have they faced in their lives? Will this person fall to pieces if they are confronted with the worst your mental illness has to offer?

I find that there are a lot of people that want to be understanding and compassionate, but the extremes of mental illness are just so different and unsettling that they don’t understand how to be.

2. The traditional tropes of partnership don’t necessarily apply.

A traditional idea of marriage sees two people joining their life together in many ways to be partners in this life. I know it’s a heart-warming, romantic notion to many. In a relationship involving Bipolar Disorder or other mental illness, there has to be at least some degree of space between the partners.

I’ve heard the following scenario dozens of times.

Husband has Bipolar Disorder and is the primary source of income. Husband swings manic, cleans out the bank account, and bails on wife and children. Husband may be a fantastic guy when well and balanced, but for the next several months, he’s teetering on the edge of out of his mind while mania does what it does. Wife is forced to cajole, coerce, or literally beg husband to keep their family afloat and a roof over their heads, not always succeeding.

In my well, placid state of mind, I would never want that for my family. Any half-decent person with a conscience wouldn’t want that for their family. So, I would never want to fully intertwine my financials with a long-term partner, because who knows what I might think is a good idea when I’m out of my mind? Separate bank accounts, avoid cosigning for things if it can be avoided, maybe a mutual bank account for paying bills and rent at the most. Need to build or rebuild credit? Get yourself a Secured Credit Card instead of cosigning a debt.

Not everything needs to be meshed together. And in my opinion, it definitely shouldn’t be. Boundaries are necessary.

3. Patience. Take your time developing the relationship.

Personally, any time I start to feel too good, I just assume I’m escalating until I can confirm that I’m not. Hitting things off well with another person can certainly be a escalation trigger for Bipolar Disorder. In fact, the following scenario is the most common that people write to me about.

Person A meets Person B and there is immediate chemistry. Person B lives with Bipolar Disorder. The relationship takes off hot and heavy. They’re my soul-mate! It’s intense, it’s passionate, everything seems to be perfect for about three to six months. Then, things change. They change because Person B triggered into mania, the cycle runs its course, and they crash hard into depression. Person A is confused, they want the person they fell in love with back!

Well, that’s what they think they want. In reality, the person they fell in love with may not actually exist. Mania can be a distortion of the person with Bipolar Disorder. It can also create totally fictional feelings and beliefs, making it not real at all. So many people are looking for this romanticized notion of a soul-mate. They think they find it in manic Person B because mania isn’t anything like what they’ve known before, unless they’re actually familiar with Bipolar Disorder, in which case they would know that it’s not a good thing at all.

Patience is a virtue that everyone needs more of. Date for at least two years before making any major decisions like getting a place together. This is good for both parties. It prevents the person with Bipolar Disorder from acting on fictitious emotions they may not actually feel and it gives the partner a chance to see a wide sampling of the mood swings and how things can be.

If you meet a person and you’re flooded with all of these overwhelming feelings of perfection, love, beauty, and purity of passion; assume it’s mania until you can prove otherwise. A lack of doubt is a major warning flag for escalation.

4. Do not hide your mental illness to achieve a relationship.

People come and go in life. Living with mental illness, we often see a number of people go. Friends are nowhere to be found, relationships crumble when drastic unwellness hits. It can be tempting to want to hide this facet away from a potential partner, but that’s a mistake.

You can’t build a healthy, loving relationship on distrust and partial information. Healthy relationships aren’t built that way. Sooner or later the partner will find out, and they will be hurt and feel betrayed. You’ll be setting yourself up for failure from the start.

The matter of mental health does need some partnership to it. If you’re going to spend a large amount of time with a person, it would help both parties out if they could communicate and work together to overcome the inevitable hurdles that the mental illness will contribute. I’ve talked to both mentally ill people and their partners who think that it can just be the sole domain of the mentally ill person, that it can be kept from affecting the partner. That’s naive, wishful thinking at best.

When’s the best time to have that discussion? Earlyish. It doesn’t have to be immediately, but somewhere before love and serious relationship sets in. I prefer sooner so I don’t waste our time.

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Can Bipolar Disorder Be Controlled Naturally?

I’ve spent a great deal of time talking to people newly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Inevitably, they ask about controlling Bipolar Disorder through natural means. Can Bipolar Disorder be totally controlled through natural means? I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that it can. I think that the numerous natural practices out there supplement a person’s overall wellness and stability, at best.

I am not a mental health professional or a doctor. However, I am a guy who has talked to literally hundreds of mentally ill people and their families over the past five years. I’ve met people who have believed a great number of things ranging from diet being able to cure their mental illness to people who thought Jesus came to them and exorcised their demons to “Native American secrets they don’t want you to know!” I’ve listened to a hell of a lot of claims.

If Bipolar Disorder can be well-managed or cured through natural means, where are the people doing it? 

Quality of life is an important consideration, even with psych medication. Oh, so your medication knocks you out for sixteen hours a day? A person can’t live that way. Call your doctor and see what should be done about it.

And then you have the people touting a natural approach. “I do X, Y, and Z and I feel AMAZING!” Well, I got news for you. You feel amazing because you’re either borderline manic or high, I can tell by the way you’re ranting at me and exuding energy. It’s obvious to anyone familiar with mania and you probably missed it because you’re escalating.

Here’s a simple pro-tip: if you have Bipolar Disorder and you feel “amazing” for absolutely no reason, start going through your process to make sure your brain isn’t escalating into unwellness. People don’t typically feel amazing for no reason.

I am not telling you to take psychiatric medication. That is a decision only you can make with a qualified professional. What I am telling you is to not delude yourself into thinking that you’re out of the woods because you feel good for the moment. That may not mean a damned thing a week, six months, or a year from now. You should certainly be prepared for a major cycle to kick your teeth down your throat should you trigger.

The Mental Health System is the Most Effective Way to Achieve Wellness

I believe that our flawed mental health system is the most effective way to attain control over mental illness and achieve a greater quality of life. That’s what I’ve seen work for people over and over.

I’ve met several well-balanced people who have achieved years of stability and peace through means offered by the mental health system. On the other hand, I’ve met zero who achieve it through self-medication and substance abuse, prayer, Native American secrets, smoothies, or positive thinking.

There are no shortcuts to achieving mental wellness and stability. It is challenging and it is work. Anyone that says otherwise is either trying to sell you a product or doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. Meaningful change takes time and effort, in all things. Period.

And, if you are a person with Bipolar Disorder who has managed at least a year of stability with a decent quality of life through “natural” anything, I would love to hear from you.

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Love Is Not Greater Than Mental Illness

Love is not greater than mental illness. I’m writing that sentence out because I find myself needing to regularly tell people that love is a product of the brain. It’s not the heart, which pumps blood. It’s not the soul, an often debated construct of belief. Love is created, grown, and hosted in the mind. Therefore, love is just as vulnerable to mental illness as any other emotion or thought process.

Bipolar Disorder unwellness can create a fictional reality and emotions out of thin air. From the outside, it is incredibly confusing. From the inside, the fictional emotions and beliefs that arise from them seem as though they are reality. To say that, “they are not real” is incorrect. They are real in that the unwell mind is saying that “this is reality.” They are not real in that those beliefs don’t typically align with fact.

A person with a high degree of awareness, who retains enough presence of mind to listen to the people around them who can see when they are unwell, can attempt to counter that thinking by continuously reminding themselves that what they are experiencing is not factual and not base their decisions off of them. But, then there are people who are too unwell to see their illness, listen to supporters with rationality, or become convinced that they are being lied to.

“Why is my spouse being so awful to me now? We had a good relationship before!”

“Why is an otherwise loving parent now treating their kids like an afterthought now?”

“My significant other really loved our pets. Why are they so cold and ignoring them now?”

Mental illness would not be nearly as devastating if love surpassed it.

A majority of the people that reach out to me are the friends, family, and loved ones of the mentally ill who are trying to understand what is going on in the mind of their mentally ill loved one. The problem is that they do not have the appropriate perspective to accurately do that. They try to filter mental unwellness through the filter of how they experience and interpret life. It’s not the same.

A person with a typical mind may get angry with their partner but they still retain love.

A Bipolar mind that swings into mania can have that love overridden by the unwell cycle. Instead of anger with love, the person may wind up with intense anger and frustration, impeded decision making ability, impulsiveness, recklessness, racing thoughts, in addition to a removal of the filter between the brain and the mouth. Irrational emotions that are not based in reality flow through actions and words, free to deal drastic damage to a loving relationship.

And then the cycle will end sooner or later. The Bipolar person goes back to who they were before the manic cycle blasted its way through. Then the people involved are left to sweep up whatever ashes they can, because we can’t take back actions or words. All we can really do is apologize and try to put it back together as well as it can be.

“But, if they really loved me, they wouldn’t have done XYZ!”

No. Love is not greater than mental illness. In fact, I would argue that love is the single most vulnerable victim of mental illness, because it’s something that is an essential part of every person’s existence in some way.

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Happy Thanksgiving! And an Update…

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you out there who are observing it! I hope things are well for you all and your families. I’ve been a bit quieter than normal recently, adjusting to new living circumstances and other life goings on, and thought I would take a moment to update you all on the general direction for my work.

It’s been awhile since I released my last eBook, “Everyday Instability and Bipolar Disorder.” My next has been in the works for several months now and I’m pushing towards getting that wrapped up to be available early next year. The focus is on breaking through the barriers that prevent meaningful communication between the mentally ill and their loved ones. In it, I am exploring the recurring themes, fears, and problems I’ve witnessed in the past five years I’ve been trying to tear down other peoples’ walls. It is my hope that it will enable the mentally ill and their supporters to develop better rapport as well as chipping through the fear that keeps many people from seeking the help they need.

Some of you may recall, earlier this year, that I made a brief foray in attempting to launch a Youtube channel. There are numerous reasons why that didn’t pan out that I’m not going to go into here, as it’s not really that important. After more research and a lot of consideration on the things that went wrong, I have shifted that idea. I have decided to launch an audio podcast instead. In essence, I am planning to simply expand my work out into an audio format that will be easier for consumption. It will be available in a few easy to access locations, as well as through standard podcast channels.

The format I have settled on will be about a 20-30 minute episode once per week. I plan to launch in early January with the new year.

Between working on those two things and the general flow of what else I do, it has been keeping me pretty busy. Lots of unexpected challenges to deal with at times.

I am still very much here and doing what I do, just haven’t been as engaged as I probably should be. That’s another change I need to look at making moving forward.

Anyway, have a great Thanksgiving for the Americans out there. And for my not American audience, have a great day. Be well.

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Should I Talk to a Professional About My Problems?

The initial steps of starting on the path to recovery often come at a confusing time. One’s personal life may be in a state of upheaval or transition, causing stress and confusion, making it difficult to see the path forward. One of the most common questions I am asked is: should I talk to a professional about the problems I’m having?

The short answer is yes, you should. If for any reason you are contemplating talking to your doctor or mental health professional about problems you are having, then the answer is yes, you should talk to them. At minimum, they may be able to provide some perspective or suggestions on how to handle whatever it is that you are facing. And if it does turn out to be a more serious issue, well, you’re in the right place to start looking at the problem and addressing it.

I find that people tend to add their own fears onto the end of that statement. I say, “talk to a mental health professional.” That doesn’t mean, “talk to a mental health professional and take medication.” That association is incorrect. You’re going to have a conversation. That conversation can lead to medication if the professional decides that it is warranted and the patient agrees.

Your agreement is an important point. If you don’t agree with that suggestion, just say, “I’m not ready for medication yet” or “I don’t want to be medicated.” It’s far less scary than the mind can make it out to be, particularly if the fear is amplified by an uncontrolled mental illness or stress.

A willingness to comply is necessary for real progress and recovery because it’s not like anyone is going to babysit to ensure you are taking your meds or using therapy techniques. It’s something you have to want to do yourself. That’s why you can’t really force a path of wellness or recovery on anyone. The best you can hope for is to sort of guide them in a direction that will hopefully lead to realization.

Of course, that is in the context of a non-crisis situation. Crisis situations are different and not really relevant in the context of willingly seeking help on your own.

Fear is often fueled by the unknown. One of the ways you can push back against the fear is to familiarize yourself with the policies of the facility where you would be talking to the professional. Every place I’ve been to has provided paperwork that outlined patient rights, expectations, and some relevant systems. Simply go in and ask the receptionist for copies of that paperwork to review.

Don’t let a fear of the unknown or thinking that your problems aren’t severe enough prevent you from talking to a qualified professional about them. It would be better if more people did talk about their issues sooner. Maybe then they could be intercepted before those issues explode into full-blown crises or drastic situations.

Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you are having a rough time. It can make a tremendous difference.

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A Mental Illness Diagnosis Is Not a Death Sentence

A mental illness diagnosis can be a frightening experience. I’ve talked to quite a few people who are newly diagnosed and utterly terrified about what it means for their future. There are numerous ways to go about managing mental illness and living a gainful, meaningful life. The problem is that we are all individuals, with our own opinions on what will and won’t work for us, what we are and are not willing to try.

Mental illness is very disruptive to our emotions and perspective. Many of us are diagnosed around a time of great instability due to unwellness. Mental illness can take those fears and twist them drastically out of proportion. Don’t listen to those fears. Stick to the path that will get you professional help.

In the US, that can mean an initial appointment and then a meeting with a psychiatrist three to six weeks later. It is really easy to convince yourself that you may not actually need the appointment while waiting for it. Fear, doubt, irrationality, or a rationalization of recent circumstances can all contribute to a decision to avoid the appointment. If you’re in this position, just stay focused on getting to that appointment.

The best way to set yourself up for success is to start figuring out how your mental illness affects you specifically. The same mental illnesses can look drastically different from person to person. It can be really difficult to see unless you understand what the symptoms actually look like. This is a major problem in a lot of books and content you will run into. Most of it is created through the filter of the way the creator experiences or perceives mental illness. That is not to suggest that it is not valuable, because it is. You just need to take any information you consume with a grain of salt because it may not apply to you.

I highly recommend visiting a counselor with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy experience with the goals of learning about the functionality of your diagnosis, exploring your history, and exploring who you are currently. Their experience and clinical knowledge can help you build the foundation for long-term recovery. I personally believe that anyone would benefit from really exploring and working to understand why they are the person that they are. Developing self-awareness can help you find your way in the organized chaos that life can be.

The best thing about diagnosis is that it is the start of the establishment of control over the chaotic, destructive force that is mental illness. The decisions on how to go about building that control are best made with the assistance of a qualified mental health professional. Ask questions when you have them. If you don’t understand, ask more questions. Building your knowledge will help you keep track of what does and does not work for you.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t experience immediate results. The pursuit of mental wellness is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and patience. I know, I know. “I’m not a patient person!” Well, then you can look forward to developing a new skill, because it is a requirement. It takes time to learn. It takes time to see if and how medication works. It takes time to pick through and understand the damage that mental illness has done to your life. It takes time to fix it.

A diagnosis is not a death sentence. It is the start of a new chapter of your life, hopefully the beginning of something much better for you.

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