Four Ways My Mental Illness Changed Me

It’s inevitable that having a mental illness changes you.

Although it’s difficult, some of these changes can be good; whilst obviously some aren’t so much. Having mental health problems has actually opened a lot of doors for me and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am in my life without having gone through what I have. Right now I’m probably the most well I have ever been so it’s easy to reflect and feel like it was worth everything I’ve experienced to be where I am now. But if I really think about it, would I rather not experience anorexia and bipolar? Absolutely. I’ve learnt a lot about myself but it has come at the expense of my happiness at times.

So, how have I changed?

I am more compassionate. I have so much empathy for people struggling with their mental health and I definitely think it makes me a better nurse. I hope that I am a kinder person and that I am able to support people around me too.

I appreciate the good. When you have spent so many years being depressed or consumed by an eating disorder, the whole world feels pretty terrible. I have such an appreciation for the big and small things that make life what it is: summer days, kittens, bubble baths, a new nail varnish, holding hands. I know now that when the day comes when things do feel bleak again, there are parts of life that are beautiful and I will experience them again.

I have no concept of how my body looks. Years of disordered eating and poor body image have left me with residual dysmorphia. I can look a completely different size from one day to the next, and that’s something I’ve just had to make peace with. I know that I am in the healthy bracket and I am physically able, and that’s what I try to focus on. What I look like is not as important as who I am, although one day I do hope to be able to accurately see myself in the mirror.

I am brave. Knowing how much I have overcome has made me realise how much I am capable of. In the last few years I have been to so many places and done so much – alone and with others – that I never thought I would be able to. Solo travelling, public speaking, just generally being more honest with people. All of these things are brave in different ways.

Overall, I feel like I am a better person than I was before and all I hope is that I can continue to recover and to help other people as much as I can.

How do you feel your mental health has changed you?


  1. Interesting post! I especially loved the last point. Going through objectively/subjectively painful things really does make for a great benchmark for how strong and brave you are ^^ I’ve definitely noticed how careful I’ve become when responding to people who don’t even realize they need help, Initially you could say I’d be impatient but I’ve noticed a huge change now. I loved the idea for this post. I’d kinda like your blessing to write a post as my version of it, giving you due credit Ofcourse, wouldn’t want it any other way.<3

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post Cara and in particular I’m glad to see that you can find positives to take from having a mental illness. It’s so easy to quite naturally focus on the bad side of things but we also should remember the positives we can take. Although I would rather not have anxiety or depression like I do, I now can’t imagine myself without them and try to think about the positives I can take from having them as well. xx

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  3. I love this. I’ve definitely become far more compassionate knowing how badly someone can be hurting even though they look completely fine. For me, my long and ongoing recovery process from OCD has given me a real gift, in that it’s teaching me the skills to stick to things I value even when my feelings and thought processes are desperately trying to tell me they’re wrong. Ultimately I’m learning that emotional responses don’t need to force us to make choices, they’re just the brain doing its thing, and I can make choices that line up with what I value and what I want, even when those choices are making me anxious or upset. I can thank my brain for sharing, and decide to do what I know is good for me, or what I want anyway. It’s a pretty badly wrapped gift, but it’s a gift nonetheless.

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  4. One of my biggest steps to accepting my mental illness was recognizing the positives that also follow it. I think sometimes we can be so caught up in stigma and how society defines us that we feel we need to believe it can only bring bad. Of course not being true!
    It motivates me to work with at risk youth, be empathic and an advocate for myself and others!
    Loved reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree! I always try to be a ‘glass half full’ kind of person and try to take positive things from all situations though it’s not always that easy at the time.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


  5. I love how positive this post is!! Struggling with mental health and disorders can be so negative and I love that you didn’t take that route. You seem so strong!! Keep it up girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think that having been sucked into the depths of mental illness you develop a much greater appreciation of the nature of life and its struggles. Like you say, it can definitely enhance empathy and compassion. I have developed a level of self awareness that has helped me a lot too. The biggest for me is a sense of my own strength, I know just how much I have been capable of enduring (just about!) and that is something I take into every day. So many times I have found myself addressing challenges with the attitude that, ‘well, NOTHING can be worse than what I’ve already been through.’ That is something that I am very grateful for.


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