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Reclaiming Life After Mental Illness

By HERWriter
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Reclaiming Your Life After Mental Illness WavebreakMediaMicro/Fotolia

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." — Marie Curie

This quote by Marie Curie is a brave and true statement, and it can also be considered when understanding mental illness. After all, mental illness is serious, and misunderstanding it only leads to more confusion and fear.

The Mayo Clinic defines mental illness as "A wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors."

Getting an accurate diagnosis is very important and can also help people reclaim their lives sooner. Board certified psychologist Dr. Lee H. Coleman, author of "Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed," writes, "Over half of people with depression don't receive proper diagnosis and treatment."

He adds, "Depression is an extremely common mental health condition that affects not only your mood, but also your body, your thoughts, and the way you experience the world."

For some who have disorders such as schizophrenia or depression with psychotic features, this can mean that they experience the world with fear.

Sometimes people with these diagnoses can become out of touch with reality. For example, they will hear voices or see things that are not there. Individuals can be aware that it is not normal to see and/ or hear things that are not there, so they will deny that these things are happening to them.

When someone experiences this, medication is often used to manage these symptoms. Many times, the medication in combination with therapy, is used as a life-long treatment approach. And going off of medication is not recommended.

For these situations, people, with the aid of a therapist, acquire insight and awareness about the role that medication plays in their treatment. And they know that both therapy and medication help them to manage their emotions.

Gaining this type of insight is often a goal in treatment, and it also helps people feel in control of their condition.

For the purpose of this piece, I interviewed psychologist James Windell.

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EmpowHER Guest

My significant other of over 33 years took his own life in March, 2015. He suffered from mental illness for many years. In the end of 2012, his symptoms worsened and his anxiety/depressive episodes were occurring more frequently. He tried everything; medications, psychologists, nutrition, exercise (he was an Ironman triathlete), meditation, yoga etc. Nothing could save him. Yet to most, he appeared to have it all, looks, talented athlete, super smart, visionary entrepreneur and was a well known and beloved coach in his field. The aftermath and collateral damage from suicide is huge. In addition, we were not married which further added further complexity and challenges, even though we had wills.

February 5, 2016 - 9:34am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.