Three Things I Learned by Fighting Mental Illness


Emily is a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and a chapter leader at the University of Pittsburgh. Learn more about the Student Advisory Committee

emilyThree and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and a not-otherwise-specified mood disorder. While that sounds scary, it was actually great – my diagnosis helped me to realize that the ruminating thoughts I experienced daily and lack of short-term memory were caused by a disease, when before, I didn’t understand where they were coming from. And as I learned what it meant to live with this diagnosis on a daily basis, I learned a lot of really valuable lessons on the way.

However, I want to be very clear in stating that I am in no way trying to glorify mental illness. If a fairy came to me and told me they could take away my mental illnesses with a swish of their wand, I would jump almost immediately. But, to the best of my knowledge, fairies don’t exist. Mental illnesses still do, and the people that experience these diseases have to learn how to cope with them. This is a big challenge, but it can be overcome and one can learn a lot from it. As I said earlier, I did.

So, here are three things I learned by fighting against mental illness. This is not an exhaustive list, and it could be different for each person and their experience with mental illness. My goal in sharing this list is to show anyone who reads this that an experience with mental illness doesn’t have to be limiting and that people can and do get better and stronger.

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