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Living with your Mental Health Condition

A woman continuing to live her life

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Many people live with mental health conditions.

Someone you know – or even you – may be living with a mental health condition.

A mental health condition is an illness that affects the brain.

  • Mental health conditions can affect thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Some types of mental health conditions are:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety

If you have a mental health condition, you can still live your life like you want to!

If you find out that you have a mental health condition, you may have to make some changes in your life.

  • For instance, you may have to start taking a new medicine or see some new doctors.

This does not mean you need to stop doing the things that you enjoy in life!

You can stay healthy and keep enjoying life by sharing your thoughts and feelings with your doctor.

If you take a medication for your mental health condition, let your doctor or support provider know how the medication makes you feel.

Also let your doctor know if your thoughts and feelings are different from usual, or if you have any thoughts or feelings that are scary for you.

You can also talk to your friends and family about your feelings.

Your family and friends are available for you if you need to talk to them.

  • Sharing your feelings can help you manage your mental health condition and live your life like you want to.
  • You can share what you are comfortable with when you are ready.

You don’t have to share personal details until you are ready!

  • Take your time and tell those you trust.

Mental health conditions should not prevent you from enjoying your life.

In this story, a self-advocate named Mary has been diagnosed with depression and is taking medication for it.

  • She usually likes to have her friends come to her house so they can cook dinner and watch movies.
  • Lately, Mary has felt so sad that she calls her friends and cancels their dinner.

If your mental health condition is stopping you from doing the things that you usually like to do, tell your doctor!

Mary tells her doctor about her new feelings at her next appointment.

Mary’s doctor thinks that her current medicine isn’t working, so they decide to try a different medication.

By talking with her doctor about changes in her feelings, Mary is helping her doctor to treat her in the best way possible!

Your mental health condition should not prevent you from doing the things you want to do.

However, you should consider the following when you start taking a new medication.

  • If you drive, ask your doctor if any medications you are taking will affect your ability to drive.
  • Walking is a great way to exercise and get places!
  • If you use a wheelchair to get places, you can still travel this way while living with a mental health condition.

Being able to go where you want is an important part of living.

Dylan uses a wheelchair to get around.

He has recently been diagnosed with anxiety and has been too scared to go outside.

He tells his support provider about how he’s feeling and they agree to go outside together.

Dylan is now able to enjoy his daily trips around the block!

You can also try new activities while living with a mental health condition.

Trying new things can be exciting and a good way to make new friends to add to your support system.

You can try new things like:

  • Playing sports, such as swimming or basketball
  • Working
  • Eating different kinds of food
  • Playing a new board game
  • Gardening
  • Going to school

A healthy diet and plenty of exercise should be part of everyone’s life.

While living with a mental health condition, you can still eat the right foods and get the right amount of exercise.

Try to eat foods like:

  • Low-fat or non-fat milk products
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh and non-fried foods
  • Whole-grain cereals and breads

Try to get exercise every day, even if it’s just walking to the mailbox or stretching your arms.

Daily exercise and healthy eating are possible while living with a mental health condition.

In this story, a self-advocate named Vivian has a bipolar disorder.

  • Vivian has always been involved in local sports but her bipolar disorder sometimes makes her feel like she can’t play.
  • She knows that she still needs to get daily exercise so she starts having daily walks with her brother.
  • Once a week, they walk to the nearby grocery store so they can buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

You can live a full life while living with a mental health condition.

You can manage your medications and be aware of your body’s reactions.

You can talk to people in your support system about how you’re feeling.

You can try new things and meet new people!

You can eat the right foods and get plenty of exercise.

You can still do what you like to do!

You can check out other DDS Safety Net presentations:

"Handling Your Emotions"

"Social Support Systems and Maintaining Mental Health"

“Understanding Mental Health Conditions”

“Mental Health and Medication Safety”

“Mood Disorders”

You can check out these links to find out more about living with a mental health condition:

PsychCentral: Mental Health Support Groups

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Last updated on Thu, 06/17/2010 - 16:55