Tips And Tricks For Surviving A Mental Illness #1

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Well, I think I know a thing or two about having a mental illness, since I’ve been dealing with this damn stuff since I was 15-years-old. So, why not share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way? I guess I’ll just put up these when I have time. Here is the number one thing I’ve learned:

1) Take your medication. I know this is the NUMBER ONE problem for 95% of the people with mental illness. The whole medication dilemma. I know you think you aren’t sick. You aren’t like THOSE people who take medications. This can’t be happening to you. You are fine. The doctors don’t know what they are doing. It is all one big human guinea pig experiment. They don’t know enough about the meds. What are these meds doing to me? They are going to make me stupid or a zombie. I won’t be able to think for myself. They take away my creativity, my sex drive, my whatever. It is all a big conspiracy with the pharmaceutical industry to get everyone hooked on psych meds so they can control us with their capitalist bullshit. Vitamins and natural products are better. It is all about balancing the vitamins and minerals in your system. All you have to do is eat right or exercise more and you will be okay. You are normal. The doctors don’t even know what they are doing. They don’t know me. I’m just like this, there is nothing wrong with me.

Okay…I KNOW all that. I’ve heard all that. I’ve lived all that. And what you have to do is put all of that talk that you just read there and all that talk that goes through your head 10 million times per day…you have to put it out of your mind. And when people tell you all those things and try to say you don’t need medications and that the meds will rot your brain, you know what you have to do? You have to say: lalalalalala I can’t hear you! I’m talking to those of you out there who have severe mental illnesses: schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression (with or without psychosis). Some people need glasses, and you need medications. That is just the way it is. You’ll have to live with it until they find something better. I used to hate hate hate wearing glasses. When I was younger all of the glasses were butt ugly and no one cool wore glasses. Then when I got a little older I got to wear contacts, but they would fall out of my eyes during PE class and they were much better than glasses, but there were still problems. However, I kept wearing glasses and contacts, because I had to. It was either that or walk around half blind. I chose to see. And you know what? My contacts are much much better these days. They are even disposable and easy to take care of. No more weird heat treatments and complicating containers. I can see better out of them than ever before and they never pop out of my eyes like they used to. I also just spent a hefty amount of money at the eye doctor, because I needed some new glasses for backup when I’m not wearing contacts. AND!!! I LOVE my new glasses. They are so cute and stylish and there are so many varieties to pick from these days. And even the cool people wear glasses now and then. I can be cool and wear glasses at the same time! (Not that I’m ever really cool, but some people can be cool with glasses!). My point is: science is making strides every day. Medicines are getting way better every day. The psych meds of today are not the psych meds of yesterday. While the doctors do need to tweak the meds to each individual case, they do know what they are doing if they are a good, qualified doctor. Unless you are very very qualified, I would say that your psychiatrist does know more about the way these medications work on your brain. They aren’t trying to poison you. They are trying to help you live a better life.

And if you give the medicines a chance, they can help you do that. It might mean trying different medications to see which one works the best. It might mean lowering or raising the dose on your medications. And it might mean that you need to talk to your doctor and tell him or her what is going on in your head, but these medicines can and do help millions of people no matter what rumor you might hear on the internet. You and I need this medicine like I need glasses and contacts. If we want to see, we have to bite the bullet, let go of all that chatter going on in the world that would discourage us from taking our meds, and just take the medicine. Take if faithfully. Give it a chance to work. Think of it as food for your brain. These medicines actually improve cognitive functioning believe it or not. Maybe they will even make you smarter than you were before. Maybe they help you think better just like my glasses help me see better. I know it is hard to feel this way when the meds aren’t working or things are not perfect, but we live in an amazing time, perhaps the first time in the history of human beings when we have the option of living a relatively “normal” life despite the fact that we have a mental illness! That is fucking unbelievable! It was a mere 50 or 60 years ago when we would have all been doomed to a life trapped in illness and trapped in an institution. Before that it was even worse. If for nothing else, we should honor the memory of all of those mental patients who have gone before us…all of them who suffered endlessly and without any amount of hope for any kind of normal life. We should honor them by using these medical tools to make our lives better, because they never got the chance to do so. Sure, we suffer too, but we don’t have to suffer like them if we don’t want to. We don’t have to be homeless and wandering the streets in delusions or mania. We don’t have to be jumping off of bridges or shooting ourselves in the heads with shotguns. Why not give modern medicine a good go? Our illness is no longer a death sentence. If you have to take meds the rest of your life, so what? Be glad you have a life to live. Be happy that you have the meds to make your brain do what it can’t do on its own. There is no shame. No guilt in it. It is what it is. It will take some doing. You’ll need to persist and hang in there when the going gets tough. And it is easy for me to say this all now. But do you know why it is easy? Because I take my medication. If I didn’t take it, I couldn’t even write coherently. I wouldn’t even have a blog. I wouldn’t be able to use a computer or go to school or have a life. Without medication I am and have been a wandering homeless person on the verge of death or great harm. So, please, please, the first step has to be that you take your medication.

To See The Other Tips And Tricks For Surviving A Mental Illness Click Here 


9 thoughts on “Tips And Tricks For Surviving A Mental Illness #1

  1. Your advise works not just with mental illness but all other illnesses. A lot of times we just skip our medication…and that creates havoc…

  2. Kristen: this is a wise and wonderful site!

    I’m much older than you, yet everything you said felt as though it had come from my own mind. Particularly on the use of meds…and the notion that Nike Speak (Just do it!) is the solution. Hard to do anything when you’re curled in bed in fetal position, can’t think, won’t speak, infinitely sad and alone. That’s my experience with recurrent major depression. Medication, along with therapy, has given me back my life.

    Are you familiar with NAMI? The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a grass roots organization that works to better the lives of people living with mental illness, and their families, through Support, Education and Advocacy.
    The national office is in Washington, DC and NAMI has 1200 local affiliates nationwide. There is no better place to turn for information, direction and understanding whether you are a consumer (person coping with mental illness), family member, caregiver or friend. Check out the website at

    I think it would be super if the NAMI site carried a link to yours, and vice versa. I’m going to suggest it to my own local organization as well: NAMI of DuPage County, Illinois. We’re the most active in the state and were named NAMI National Local Affiliate of the Year for 2007. See our web address above.

    Continued success in life and in managing your illness. Your lively, personal and thorough page is going to help countless individuals and keep in front the most important message for anyone dealing with mental illness: You are not alone. Treatment works.

    Congratulations…and Thank You!

  3. Over a year ago I had my first terrible reaction to depression med’s . The mixture my doctor prescribed amplified my manic symptoms. As a result I almost committed suicide, and if not for my husband, I’d most likely be dead today. To top matters my physcotherapist was like a robot when I told her what happened. I felt even more alienated by my condition,I felt unapreciated and enraged. I felt betrayed by my mind and the pharmosutical industry. I did not want to take another chance nor did I wish to be a prescription med’ guinee pig.
    Kristin, after reading your tips #1 for Surviving Mental Illness, I really do beleive I am going to give med’s another chance. You were right to suggest that 50 or 60 years ago the mentally ill would have been trapped in an institution, without the resources we have available today. Thank-you so much for sharing your experiences on this topic for anyone who is afraid to use drugs to help his/her condition. it’s time for me to find a better doctor and to get my life back on track. Thank-you Kristin for your information of Med’s.

  4. It’s the best pep talk I could of ever hoped for.
    I’m in complete agreement.
    Which is why I’m no longer homeless or worse.
    Before institutions they would of burned as at the stake for possession.
    I glad we have evolved enough to no longer do that.

  5. Thank you very much Kristin. Being the only one in my family that has to take meds I’ve always felt nervous about what it could be doing to my body. I now realize however that practically debilitating anxiety is probably doing way more damage than anxiety medication could do. You’ve inspired me so much with your posts and videos and I hope you know there are people out there that you are helping with the work you put into these and I can’t thank you enough…

  6. Hello my son is paranoid schizophrenic he is a kind thoughtful beautiful person…he will not stop using street drugs, he feels they help him accomplish things…but they are just interfearing with his meds and turn him into an argumentative entitled person I dont even know, he won’t acknowledge this fact and makes being around him impossible but then expects noone to react to his disrespect, or maybe he wants to get a reaction? All I know is I want to be a part of his life and be able to be there for him but it is so difficult it literally makes me ill… sick to my stomach frustrated I dont know what to do

  7. I’m sorry I forgot to reply to this message. I’m so sorry about your son. I wish I had some answers. As you know street drugs won’t help with schizophrenia. I don’t have personal experience with using street drugs, but I know that it can be hard to reach someone who is actively psychotic. My only suggestion is for YOU to join a NAMI support group for people who are the loved ones of people with mental illness. At least you could get some support that way. If you can’t do something in person, try online forums like those on perhaps? I’m very sorry for your situation. Your son is lucky to have a mom that cares!

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