6 Tips to Help Live a Balanced Life With Mental Illness

03/23/2015 03:27 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2015

Living a balanced life is difficult for most people, but it is not impossible. Living a balanced life with a mental illness presents challenges that the "normal" (notice I used quotations) people of this world would not understand in a practical sense. The balanced life, according to scholars, theologians, monks, and people who have clout on these things, involve meditation and taking time for yourself, and guess what. They're right!

Know that I am not coming from a place of transcendental hippie love and peace or smoking some joint with unspecified contents. I am coming from a place of experiencing a truth of having survived by finding my own balance in the chaotic megalithic diabolical paradigm of severe mental illness that had to be mastered from within with copious amounts of anti-psychotic medicine.

As I have traveled throughout this nation talking to people with severe mental illness and how they have overcome it, specifically schizophrenia with my work on the Board of Directors of SARDAA (Schizophrenia And Related Disorders Alliance of America) I have come to understand a few truths about how we've all overcome our own mental processes.

#1: Meditate

One of the most powerful processes I've found in my mental health recovery was meditation. I did not begin to fight back the delusions, racing thoughts, and maladaptive thoughts until I found meditation. You don't have to do it every day, but every week will empower you.

#2: Know that mental illness is not your fault.

Knowing that mental illness is not your fault, your family's, or some religious condemnation is the first step to begin to overcome the mental processes taking place in your life. Read about the illness and undertake an investigative measure to understand it.

#3: Validate yourself

Validating yourself as a person who has good intent in the world is a worthwhile step. You have good intent and you know it. Don't let your faults or failures get in the way of whom you are.

#4: Choose when to validate your thoughts

Choosing when to validate your thoughts becomes an amazing ability when you've dealt with severe mental illness for a period of time. If you're going through a rough patch with some serious maladaptive thoughts you must figure out when, how, and why you allow some thoughts to be validated and others not. Choose to validate the thoughts that make the most logical sense. Do not validate thoughts that are in the moment or lack awareness of a situation. This is the most difficult tip and takes practice.

#5: Surround yourself with like-minded people

Surrounding yourself with like minded people will make all the difference in the world. I'm not saying you have to surround yourself with other people in mental health recovery, but just people with a balanced approach to life who values your opinions, thoughts, and beliefs.

#6: Get out of the house

I did not learn this one for many years, but get out of the house! Since January I've been going to concerts and have seen Dancing With The Stars, Sarah McLachlan, John Edwards, and have been to the cliff dwellings in New Mexico. It was all amazing and helped balance my life. Get out of the house!


If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


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