Change and Mental Health

Fall has traditionally been a hard time of year for me because of all the change. My schedule changes as the kids return to school. Time changes when we turn our clocks back. School is starting earlier here now, and I am feeling the effects already.

When I did have manic/psychotic episodes, my psychiatrist pointed out, they were typically in the Fall. I have been stable for years. I have not had a severe episode where I needed hospitalization, since 2005. This year I am feeling “off”. I usually just stay aware that there is change coming up and mentally prepare.

My daughter moved out this week for her first year away at college. It is not far, but It is a big change. She is quiet. Still, she had a presence. I miss hearing her laugh or at the dinner table. Mostly, I miss knowing she is home safe at night.

Moving her in was an ordeal for me. There were so many students, all moving in on the same day. I started getting anxious driving through the parking lot. People were everywhere. I just drove slowly and waited until I found a space.

I get anxious in crowds and after the first load, I was visibly shaking. My son was sweet and when we were in her room he was telling me to breathe in through my nose and out my mouth. I took some deep breaths. It helped a little.

Once we got everything unloaded (I had no idea where everything would go, she seemed to have brought everything but the kitchen sink), I went home. My husband and son stayed longer, took her shopping, had lunch. I just felt I had to get out of there. I was still shaking the next day.

There will always be some change. It is a problem for me when it disrupts my schedule or when there is a lot of change at once.

My son returning to school changes my schedule. I have to get up earlier to get him to school. Time change affects me, too.

Some things I can do now, before I have severe symptoms:
Keep in close contact with my psychiatrist. Let him know about my anxiety. Remind him of my history of relapse this time of year. Be open to medication changes
Increase therapy visits when I am symptomatic
Decrease stress. Stress makes my symptoms worse
Anything that reduces anxiety is helpful, like deep breathing and cbt
Less stimulation. Avoiding crowds and busy events for now
Let people close to me know how I am doing

Hopefully, by doing these things, I can avoid a relapse.


Photo by Matthias Heil on Unsplash

Change and Mental Health

Lori Bernstein

Lori has been married over 20 years and is the mother of two teenagers. She has the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, along with recovering from alcoholism. She works as a Peer Mentor and volunteers for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

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APA Reference
Bernstein, L. (2017). Change and Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 20 Aug 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Aug 2017
Published on All rights reserved.