Suffering with mental illness vs living with mental illness.

One of my pet peeves as a therapist is when someone says, “I’m suffering from depression” or “I suffer with bipolar disorder” or the like.  To me it just sounds like someone is defining their life by their mental illness, which has its benefits, but the costs outweigh the benefits, if you ask me.

I usually tell people who talk like this two things.  First, they are living with an illness–yes, there are times when they suffer, but I believe every illness has something positive t0 teach us, even if it is just the importance of living each day.

Secondly, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, may be about 900 pages long with hundreds of mental health and substance dependence diagnoses, but there are only two diagnoses that matter in my book.  Are you a good person or a bad person?  And if you are a bad person, what are you going to do about it?

Never make a mental health diagnosis who you are as a person.  Never.

About Nate Prentice, MSW, LCSW, CAS-PC

Nate Prentice, MSW, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Pastoral Counselor who maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Drexel Hill, PA.
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2 Responses to Suffering with mental illness vs living with mental illness.

  1. Mary says:

    I was diagnosed with depression, some days I suffer with it, some days I live with it, and some days it goes on vacation and leaves me alone.

    Given a choice, I prefer the last one.

  2. Nate Prentice says:


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