Mental Illness and Analyzing Your Environment

June 25, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Living with a mental illness often involves certain things--particularly if you're not stable: More time in bed, closed blinds, not enough food in your fridge or too much "bad" food in your cupboard. Isolating yourself. Creating a negative environment. When you're recovering from mental illness, creating a positive environment can help you recover.

An Example of Mental Health and Environment

An example from my life. My mother drives past my condominium every day on her way home from work. This is rather irritating for a few reasons.

First, she calls me, "Natalieeeeeeeeee, can you stand on your patio. I'm driving by!"

"OK mom here I am!"

She slows down, vehicles behind her and honks repeatedly, waving. She does this while we are on the phone. But I love her. When you love people, you do things like this.

"Thanks hunny! I looooooooooooooove you!" I humor her. I humor her until she arrives home thirty minutes later.

She calls me.

"Um, Natalie...your blinds are closed again."

I am sick of hearing this. Yes, my blinds are closed.

"Mom, I'm a writer, okay? Writer's don't like light." Well, I don't. Not when I'm working.

I get off the phone quickly. I glare at the blinds. I open them. Just a little. I close them again. I have two skylights in my home; they assault me when I'm depressed.

Where am I going here? Well, opening the blinds would let in natural light and natural light apparently makes you a bit happier! It is environmentally healthy! It has a positive impact on depression, sort of like the seasonal affective disorder light that is hidden under my bed.

Analyzing Your Environment

Side-note: I took this picture, early in the morning, before it was much too bright! Take a look around. I am assuming you're home, or at work and killing time before your lunch break, what do you see? Any natural light? Healthy food in your fridge? If you answered yes, that's great, but when you live with a mental illness your environment extends past what surrounds you.

A few examples:

> Who do you let into your life? Do you surround yourself with positive people? This is important. Often, environment is defined by the people that surround you. They can positively impact your life or negatively influence it. Try to figure out how people make you feel; are they benefiting your life? Benefiting your mental health?

>Assess your values. What matters to you? What makes you get out of bed every morning?

>Are you practicing self-care? Does your environment reflect this?

>Life is defined by changes. Have you experienced any recent changes; are these reflected in your personal environment?

In conclusion, our environment is something we can change, to a degree, it is something we can control. When you live with a mental illness your life can feel out of control. Sometimes, it's the little things (natural light!) that can help us recover.

What have you changed in your environment?

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, June 25). Mental Illness and Analyzing Your Environment, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

morris bennett
December, 13 2014 at 9:26 am

Living by a train depot. Horns all the time. Hot rodders burning out all the time. Theres lot's of people with diorders in this town? Nowhere to go but church or grocery store.

krystle S.
July, 2 2012 at 11:28 am

I try to keep snacks of cut up fruit available so I don't get tempted to stop for fast food. I also keep scented candles. And I know I can do yoga wherever at home. These little steps help.

Patricia Bosley
June, 30 2012 at 6:23 am

I completely understand the no food in the fridge. Friendd have brought me food and always comment about how empty my fridge is. It kind of annoying because I don't feel hungry so why should I eat?
I sleep many hours and always feel tired when I wake. I spend the day writing or on the internet and sometimes it's a chore just to get in the shower. I live in the middle of nowhere so it is very easy to isolate and sometimes I won't see people for days at a time.
Some days I will start cleaning the house and I can't stop until it is spotless, I'm talking clean with a toothbrush kind of clean. I will hike with my dogs and then run. Only to crash back to my depression a few days later.
I wish that I could be like "normal" folks and I'm tired of people telling me to "snap out of it" and what I need to do to help myself. I have stopped trying to explain myself and would just rather not see anyone so I don't have to hear it!

June, 25 2012 at 11:13 am

I try to clean my house, I just don't feel like it when I'm down or stressed. It's sort of a cycle from being down to not cleaning to being down etc. I've finally found that cleaning one room a day keeps me on track so I don't feel so overwhelmed, or ready to give up.

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