Opinion · Uncategorized

Thoughts about surviving mental illness, a psychiatrist’s perspective

The challenge with mental illness is that it can’t be willed away.

Dealing with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or a personality disorder isn’t about pulling your socks up or changing your attitude.  There’s no easy fix.  By the time most of my patients reach my door, they’ve fought the fight of a lifetime trying to keep their heads above water.  Day-to-day life is profoundly painful.  They’ve survived hell.

Can you imagine then what it’s like to find health, after you’ve been searching for years?  To people with a psychiatric diagnosis, a stable brain is like a pre-term baby; you have to cradle it, monitor it, bid it life and hope it keeps breathing through the night.  You never know what you’ll find the next day.

The good news is that most mental health problems are treatable.  The journey isn’t easy, but I do see people get better.  What’s the trick? Educate yourself about the illness, work with your psychiatrist and therapist, take your meds, familiarize yourself with community resources, read every self-help book and article you can find, keep a schedule, get enough sleep, project good memories into the future, and above all be kind to yourself. Be very kind to yourself.

Kim Rosenthal, MD – psychiatry

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