Lifestyle Changes After a Mental Illness Diagnosis

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder the last thing I wanted was to change my life.  I wanted to continue with my fast pace lifestyle and highly stressful career.  But over the next several years after that initial diagnosis I had to learn about what kinds of limitations I had and how those limits were going to change my life.  What I did not realize was that everyone has limitations no matter who they are or what circumstances they have and realizing this fact helped me to adjust to the limitations I had to incur.

Some of the biggest changes were the following:

1) Give up business travel = Change my career

I could no longer travel 3-4 days per week to different cities because traveling was far too intense and interfered with my sleep schedule.  It took me years to realize sleep was and is my biggest indicator for wellness.  If I wanted to function well I was going to have to protect my sleep patterns and monitor how much sleep I was getting per night.  Traveling for business had to stop and that meant a career change.

2) Understand the Disease = Monitor my moods

I had to learn how to monitor my moods.  One of the keys to wellness and recovery is to know when you feel well and know when the illness symptoms are breaking through.  It seems like it should be obvious to monitor symptoms, but for me it took years to learn the difference between mania, depression and normal moods.  The truth is I strive for the most wellness I can have and one step in doing that is stringing lots of good days together by focusing on the things I can control that makes me feel well and eliminating the things that don’t.

3) Discovering Acceptance = Living in the present

Acceptance is about being okay with exactly how things have worked out.  I continually strive for acceptance on a daily basis.  Sometimes I find myself resisting “what is” and I may get stuck thinking about what life was like before I had to make changes, so I constantly work at acceptance.  I have learned acceptance is not a destination it is a state of being.

Slide1Life after a mental illness diagnosis meant I had to make some changes in my career, I had to learn about the illness and understand how it affects me and finally I had to experience the stages of acceptance in order to live peacefully with my own destiny.  Now I am ready to take on new challenges in my life.  What stage are you in with acceptance?

8 thoughts on “Lifestyle Changes After a Mental Illness Diagnosis

  1. I suffer from social anxiety disorder and bipolar II and have been for many years but it was only in the past two that I myself took it seriously. I am just a babe in the woods so to speak. I want to thank you for writing. We need more strong, successful people willing to talk about their experiences with mental illness. We all must do what we can to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and increase healthy dialog.

    1. Hi Jacob! Thanks so much for your comment. I agree with you that “we all must do what we can to raise awareness, reduce stigma and increase healthy dialog.” The entire purpose for this blog is to do just that. Thanks again for your words of encouragement! Amy

  2. Your post was beneficial to me – thanks so much! I think I have been stuck comfortably at #4 when I should be working on getting to #5. Anyway thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Hi Wess I can understand getting stuck on #4. It took me a long time to get to Acceptance and I still work really hard to accept how things are. I’m glad the post was helpful. Thanks for commenting. Amy

  3. I can relate to your post. Your words say everything so well and truth full. As a sufferer of bi-polar and anxiety disorder, I have experienced many of the same steps. Thanks Amy for stream lining everything so well. Sherry Gamble

  4. Thank you for posting this. I relate, completely.

    I also had to drop the job – I couldn’t work in the shifts anymore, nightshifts especially, because as you said, the sleep pattern is so crucial in the mental illness.

    I couldn’t keep my job also because of the psych doctor conclusion that I cannot work with people anymore ( I am an RN, registered nurse), as I am “dangerous”. I mean, really?

    So, now I’m stuck between 2 and 4. Today I’m at 4. Not giving a damn anymore.

    Where will I end? I have no idea.

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