5 Steps to Pursuing Advanced Education with a Mental Health Diagnosis

  1. Be educated on your diagnosis. Take time to research to learn about your mental illness. Ask your doctor questions about the diagnosis. Make sure you can identify the symptoms, patterns, and even the biological processes occurring. This is important to have non-judgmental, factual knowledge so that you can maintain your health in a compassionate way.
  2. Identify your emotional, mental and physical boundaries. With great knowledge of your illness, creating self-monitoring strategies is paramount. We naturally push our boundaries, creating unhealthy stress. With mental illness, stress creates more severity and variance in mood, with detrimental effects. Pace your educational journey based on this self-compassionate stance. Know your limitations and triggers so that you can be the best student possible and reach your academic goals with pride.
  3. Engage in amazing self-care. With knowledge of your boundaries, make sure to adhere to them. Take time for yourself by engaging in pleasurable activities, getting adequate sleep, eating appropriately, socializing with others, taking a nap, physical activity, or simply taking a break from the world. Sometimes self-care can even be taking a bath versus a shower! Or, listening to an audiobook or your favorite playlist in the car. Make self-care natural to the point that it becomes a daily lifestyle of self-love. This will help to rejuvenate you daily to maintain being at your best, reaching your goals of advanced education.
  4. Stay connected with resources and supports.Make sure you have some key people in your corner that understand you, and have your best interest at heart. These are your accountability partners to ensure that you are at your best. Most times, the supports are the first to notice a decline in health before you do.
  5. Maintain treatment compliance. Please, please, please maintain your compliance with medication and/or therapy. This is your net to keep you from falling, as well as your net to bounce you back onto solid ground. If you have any issues with your medication, advocate for yourself, and your needs. Talk with your doctor, or seek a second opinion. Therapists are amazing at helping with stress management, symptom management, crises, and other life issues. Talking with someone can be such a benefit to feeling more confident.