I Have a Mental Illness: Am I Really 'Sick?'

April 26, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

I'm not sure, are you? Ask yourself the loaded question: "I have a mental illness. Am I really sick?" When I ask myself this question my mind conjures up this: "No, sometimes life just gets a bit tough, but doesn't it for us all?" And then my inner psyche rambles on about how the disease of mental illness, the 'sick' part of it, is nothing like, say, a broken leg or bout of pneumonia. But that's not the point.

The point?

Having a Mental Illness is a Disease

Sorry, no way around this one. Even an anxiety disorder rears its anxious head from time-to-time. If you have a chronic mental illness (I am tentatively raising my hand over here), you will probably have periods in which you are sick--unwell.

Call it whatever you want: 'sick' can be translated into a period of instability, recklessness, anxiety, depression. The fun stuff! The stuff that can define mental illness if not treated properly.

But here's the thing...

Living With a Mental Illness is Difficult

No kidding! When you are first diagnosed--in the years prior--your life was probably pretty unstable. Mine was. It was hard to wake up each morning or impossible to sleep.

Once diagnosed, things were still difficult. Doctors and psychiatrists and medications and more medications. Oversleeping and under sleeping...the road to recovery was anything but easy. It was largely defined by the highs and the lows of mental illness.

If I were asked, at that time, if I were 'sick?' I might have laughed--and then I would have cried. I felt hopeless and many of us initially do.

We Are Not 'Sick'

We are recovering. Much like the recovering addict-- and I have some experience here--who works hard to stay clean every single day, recovering from mental illness is similar--every single day we take our medication and work to live a clean and healthy life.

Sometimes, the best way to live is in the moment with your eye on the future.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, April 26). I Have a Mental Illness: Am I Really 'Sick?', HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Dr Musli Ferati
May, 3 2012 at 12:08 am

This intrigued question encompasses many emplicit and explicit misunderstanding. First of all, psychiatrist are in great dilemas how to definite the real nature of mental disorder, even there are psychiatric crtiteria that in most cases are confounded an inexplicable for patient and their close relatives. Therefore, it is important to be inventive toward patient as mental health giver, because the preliminary condition of successful and effective psychiatric treatment is adequate and comprehensive information of patient on its mental disorder. In this direction, the crucial moment indicates on level of global life functioning of patient that should to improve by psychiatric therapy.This therapeutic process, unlike other disease, exhibits long lasting period of treatment. On the other hand, mentally disorder arent sicknees, they express our difficulties to life problems, that are unavoidable. Indeed, we ought to learn life skills in order to rise the wuefitient of life productivity.

Mark Koning (@mark_koning)
April, 27 2012 at 12:46 pm

I ask myself this question quite often. I've come a long way since I was hospitalized with my brain infection, but I still have my daily challenges. The biggest problem sometimes is the fact that I don't look like I'm sick or that I have any type of disability. I hear things like "everyone gets confused", "we can can all get depressed", etc... and it make things even more difficult. I think talking about it, sharing and creating an awareness is the key. You're doing a great service with these articles Natalie, I think you should be proud.

April, 26 2012 at 8:46 am

We have to keep our eyes on the future because here and now seem impossible to deal with. I live in hope that every day, every hour will be better and better. It is that hope that keeps me going. I think recovery is a minute by minute thing, if we can just "look forward" to getting better, recovering, you know? Good post Natalie! Keep them coming!

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