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26 Things I've Learned From Living With a Mental Health Condition for 26 Years

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Recently I turned 26. While trying to deal with the fact I can no longer say I’m in my early 20s, I decided to write 26 things I’ve learned over the years about living with a mental health condition. For all of my teenage and adult life, I’ve battled with various mental health conditions, and I feel I’ve definitely changed my views about it as I’ve grown up and experienced more of life!

Here goes…

1. It is OK to have a mental health condition.

2. It doesn’t have to define you.

3. People will try and have their say on your condition, but you know your mind and body best.

4. You are not a “freak.”

5. If you have to take medication, it doesn’t mean you’re failing. It means you’re coping and accepting help.

6. It’s important to take care of your physical health too.

7. Sometimes there isn’t a cause, and that’s OK.

8. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. It’s incredibly brave and more often than not vital.

9. Stress can cause your mental health to deteriorate, so take care of yourself as best you can.

10. Medication may make you even more of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. Ask your doctor about side effects and if you can safely drink.

11. Exercise won’t cure your mental illness, but the endorphins can make your mind and body feel good. Try and incorporate this into your life.

12. The smallest tasks can often be your biggest achievements — make sure you count them.

13. People will judge you, but that will let you know who is worth having in your life.

14. Sometimes mental health conditions are lifelong, and you have to live with that. Make peace, and find ways to live your healthiest life.

15. Self-care is so important.

16. Feelings and emotions are valid but temporary, even the scary ones.

17. You’ll probably become well acquainted with your doctors, surgeons or local chemist.

18. You’re still lovable and worthy of respect.

19. Everyone experiences things differently, even with the same diagnosis.

20. Mental health care can be very poor, so make sure you have a good support network away from your doctors/mental health team, even if it’s online friends or a helpline.

21. Setbacks will happen. You can overcome them.

22. Your medication may have names you struggle to pronounce.

23. There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health. Use your voice if you feel comfortable doing so.

24. Find a positive outlet, whether it’s talking, writing, singing, listening to loud music, sleeping. Do what makes you feel good when you’re feeling bad.

25. You can still live a happy, successful life.

26. You are a warrior for dealing with this!

Follow this journey on Positively Kayleigh.

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Thinkstock photo by Thomas Northcut

Originally published: March 26, 2017
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