You've Been Diagnosed With A Mental Illness. Now What?

You've Been Diagnosed With A Mental Illness. Now What?

5 tips to get you on the path to improving your mental health.

1. Find a psychiatrist that takes you seriously.

Psychiatrists can be expensive, but they are extremely important to your recovery. Find one that you feel comfortable with, one that listens to you and takes you seriously. You’re paying for their services, so if they kick you out after five minutes, then are they really taking enough time to listen to your personal story, your symptoms, and what you want to work on? It can be embarrassing to admit that you suffer from suicidal thoughts or that you hear voices, but the more honest you are, the better equipped the doctor is to help you fight your personal battle. Don’t let the doctor walk all over you. Put your foot down if you don’t want to take a certain medication, or if you feel like you are not being heard. This is your life, your story. Take control of it.

2. Find a counselor that you trust.

You probably have a lot of thoughts, feelings, and concerns about your diagnosis and what this means for your future. A counselor can help you set up an action plan for your recovery. Making a list of warning signs that things are going downhill and you need help, what medications you take, and who your emergency contacts are is just a few things you might want to do to get started on your recovery plan. A counselor can listen to your concerns and view them from an outside perspective, unlike a friend or family member. Furthermore, they have been specifically trained to help you with your problems. They know your story, top to bottom, unfiltered. Therefore, they know the best ways to help you stay in school, get and keep a job, and maintain healthy relationships. Many churches have free counselors, as well as schools and colleges.

3. Build a support group.

Suffering from a mental illness can be lonely and hard. Feeling misunderstood is common. Friends and family can be helpful. They know you best and can tell when you’re having a hard time. However, make sure you are connected to a few people who know what it’s like a have a mental illness. There are plenty of Facebook groups you can join that offer support. Admins of the groups post daily medication reminders, and members of the group often compare the side effects of medications. You can read the stories of people just like you all over the world struggling. It does a world of good to know that you are not alone. If you want to meet people in person, you can search for a NAMI support group near you at As strange or unique as your illness can be, you’d be surprised how many people suffer from the same symptoms as you do.

4. Learn coping skills.

Over the years, I have learned that coping skills are the #1 thing to have in your mental health toolbox. They are free of charge and never run out. For panic attacks and general anxiety, breathing exercises are helpful. Simply focusing on your breathing can divert your focus away from whatever is causing the anxiety. Meditation is helpful in clearing and calming the mind. Simply searching guided meditation on Youtube and listening with headphones can promote relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery are also ways to divert your focus and reinstate a sense of calmness. Stretches are good for loosening up tight, stressed muscles and exercise releases endorphins. Coloring is a more popular stress relief, as well. There are so many coping skills to discover. You just have to find out what works best for you.

5. Educate yourself.

Educating yourself on your mental illness is one of the most important things you can do to ensure recovery. Go to the library or search the web. Knowing what you suffer from can help you fight it better. Identifying your symptoms is the first step in recovery. For example, if you know you suffer from social anxiety, you can prepare yourself before speaking in front of the class by doing breathing exercises before it is your turn to do your presentation. Furthermore, figuring out where your symptoms end and where your personality begins helps you know what you are fighting. You are more than your illness. You have purpose and strength and love to pour out into the universe. Be the best you that you can be. Educate yourself and those around you. End the stigma in yourself and in the world. Accept and support each other in unconditional love and understanding.

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.

I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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5 Tips To Help You Feel Better If You're Sick

A few helpful tips if there's a bug going around.


Not to brag, but I don't get sick very often, maybe once a year. When I do find myself a little under the weather, there's a few things I like to do for a faster recovery. I have no idea if any of these are 100% accurate, but I'd like to think they do. None of these will immediately make you feel better, but they'll help quicken the process.

Drink lots of water.

This one is a no-brainer, but it can be hard to do sometimes. I know when I'm sick, I definitely don't think about it. Water can help flush toxins out of your body, makes you hydrated, and can help you feel more awake and energized! If you're not a huge water drinker like I am, Tea also helps.

Stay home.

If you're sick, it's honestly better if you just take a day off and focus on feeling better. If you're worried about going to school or work, it's better that you don't spread anything. Let me just say, I'm fairly certain the last time I caught something was because someone behind me in a class was coughing through the entire lecture.


This one goes with the last point, but sleeping will help your immune system fight off any infections. It's good to take some time off and get any extra sleep you can.

Clean everything.

I like to wash all of my clothes and bed sheet, because they're what I wear and touch the most, especially my pillow cases. This will help get rid of some germs and stop them from spreading. It's also good to disinfect anything you touch often, like doorknobs and table surfaces.

Take medicine.

This one also sounds like a no brainer, but seriously if you expect to feel better soon you should be taking some sort of medicine. At the very least, it'll help with your symptoms, so you're not couching or sneezing every couple minutes.

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