After the Diagnosis: Moving On With Life!

A good portion of my writing focuses on living with mental illness, accepting the diagnosis and practicing self-care. I touch on some serious topics: Psychiatric medication, issues with your mental health team, learning to live with mental illness and recovering relationships that were damaged along the way...

But I want to talk about something different today: Remembering that you, we, are not just a diagnosis and once we become stable we might as well get on with life!

After the Diagnosis of Mental Illness...

OK, for the purposes of this blog let's assume you have achieved some stability--or you're doing better then you were before the diagnosis--maybe you're not sure what to do now. Suddenly you have time!

You take your medication (right?) and you have a great support group (I hope), and life is better now-- it's not so bad! Sure, you are probably still digesting The Diagnosis and that's normal. That takes time. But what about the time in between? What about Life?

What about the time in which you wonder: "What the hell happened to my life? What do I do now?" I cannot think of a more difficult and often painful question. Life after the diagnosis is new and new can be scary, but it doesn't have to be...

"I've Been Diagnosed With a Mental Illness...Now What?!"

We spend so much time focusing on our illness when we are working to become well, or to maintain stability, that we can forget we are more than just a mental illness. The medication we take allows us to be ourselves again--or for the first time. It can be an exciting time in our life, if we let ourselves remove The Label (s) and embrace the future.

Example: Although I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a very young age, I did not achieve stability until I was in my early twenties. Not so long ago. I was a recovering addict with a newly sober and sane life. What did I do?

I spent a heck of a lot of time analyzing my life. A lot of this was wasted time. In retrospect, I could have spent more time hiking or taken extra classes in University. I could have spent more time being less depressed. Suffice it to say, I was not the best company. But I've learned a few things...

Embrace Yourself

I am kicking myself under my desk because the heading "Embrace Yourself" is pretty lame, but in this context it works.

Spend time remembering who you are and finding out who you want to be. Sure, you have a mental illness, so what? We all have skeletons in our closet (sorry for the cliche), not just those of us with a mental illness. Your neighbor.The person you stood behind when buying your morning coffee. The woman I can see crossing the road from my window. All of us.

Put the illness aside. Have some fun! Forget about it for a while! Live your live with the understanding that, yes, you need to stay on top of your mental health but you cannot be a healthy person if you don't step outside of the box and try to have some fun!

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, June 7). After the Diagnosis: Moving On With Life!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Joanne Shortell
June, 8 2012 at 4:55 pm

YES! I wrote about this back in April. Here's a snippet: "In 2002 I was heading towards marriage with the love of my life. I was a workaholic technologist with a comfortable income. Anxiety disorders and a misdiagnosed mood disorder had troubled me since childhood. In 2012 I'm divorced; my mood disorder is more severe (ultra-rapid cycling, drug-resistant bipolar); my anxiety is worse; I'm going through menopause; I've been unable to work for years; my only income is a social security check that is 85% less than my last paycheck; and . . . my life is so good my friends and family are jealous."
Not only do we suffer from stigma, we also suffer from the old "if you stay home from school, you can't go out and play" adage we learned from our mothers. We're sick, so we shouldn't have any fun. Dangerous nonsense for people who have disabilities.
If you'd like to read the rest of my blog post on this it can be seen at:

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
June, 9 2012 at 7:41 am

Hi, Joanne:
You are completely right! I have never thought about it in that way--very enlightening. Thanks for sharing, your blog post is fantastic and I urge our readers to check it out.
Thanks for the fantastic comment,

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