Is Mental Illness a Barrier To Success?

April 2, 2015 Hannah Crowley

Growing up with a mental illness has been a barrier to my success, but no more. Read about how mental illness doesn't have to be a barrier to success.

This quote has made me consider if mental illness really is the barrier to success we imagine it to be:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Throughout my life I have found myself in positions that I thought would break me entirely. I have sat in my room with no door, surrounded by debts, destruction and bowls of my own vomit. I have laid in a hospital bed, covered in tubes and wires – desperate and alone. And I have crouched on the floor of mental institutions, rocking and trapped, painting bloody smears on the walls from the masochism of my own fingernails. But has all this mental illness been a barrier to success?

I Created My Own Barriers to Success

Growing up with a mental illness is often misconstrued as the type of "problem" that instantly denotes failure. I was living with a perpetual reminder that I wasn’t good enough. I was a disappointment -- and because of this, my anorexia, my mental illness, became a self-appointed barrier to success.

When other people my age were graduating from college and university, I’d already been deferred twice. My 18th birthday was spent in a hospital bed. I was not allowed to travel, to study, to be young and carefree. Everything was focused on my recovery and my health -- and because of this, I lost sight of who I was. I forgot the things I used to love -- and "growing up" became a foreign concept that didn’t apply to my life.

Growing up with a mental illness has been a barrier to my success, but no more. Read about how mental illness doesn't have to be a barrier to success.For a time I felt like I was balancing on the edge of a knife -- stuck somewhere between life and death. And I almost gave up. I almost succumbed to the myth of oblivion. But I didn’t. Because having a mental illness may be hard – but it can be beaten down. And every tiny achievement that seems inconsequential to other people is another milestone for us.

We can pave our broken roads with little stepping-stones of success that make up a bigger and more beautiful picture. For me, it was every discharge day, every time I got up in a morning, every time I left the house and every mouthful of food I ate and kept down. Making it through university, getting a job and standing on the graduation stage with so much more than a degree were my moments of success.

We Don't Have to Create Barriers to Success Because of Mental Illness

We are the survivors. We fight old and new battles every day -- and that requires a deep and resounding resilience and strength that we don't always recognize. Perhaps it has taken me a long time to see it, but I truly believe that we are the people who can shine through our scars and find bursts of happiness in our successes.

You can find Hannah on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

APA Reference
Crowley, H. (2015, April 2). Is Mental Illness a Barrier To Success?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Hannah Crowley

April, 12 2015 at 3:21 pm

I know your blog's attended audience is for young adults. I am much older than that now (lol), but I walked away from your article with hope. Thanks you for posting.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hannah Crowley
April, 12 2015 at 3:24 pm

The intended audience is for young adults, but I also believe the messages I want to get across are universal. Thank you to all of you for watching, reading and commenting. THAT gives me hope :)

Basana Neliman
April, 11 2015 at 7:29 pm

Many of our indigenous peoples are commiting suicide by the rope. I recently lost a school friend 3 days ago bc of this unfortunate act. She had been fighting it for too long and in the end, just simply let go. The indigenous community of Townsville is in mourning. We bury one and then hear another has gone. Too many funerals here in Townsville and Palm Island bc of mental illness and our counsellors are community people are working overtime for the families especially children who are left wondering why.
After many attempts on my own life, im still walking on Mother Earth. My pathway in life has changed from raising 4 kids and now blessed with 7 grandchildren, i work part time so i can commit my free time to help my people get from the now to the new.
I love reading stories of people who have struggled and broken the barrier to succeed in getting to the other side. It gives ne inspiration to use a little of this and a little of that , you know, all the journeys of peoples life and do what i can to help my people.
Thankyou for your encouraging words and your strength to carry on. God is everything and if we pray and dont worry, then He can do His work to heal us from this crazy world we live in.

April, 6 2015 at 6:32 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your success story! Its so inspiring and helps to evoke hope within those who understand.

April, 6 2015 at 3:10 pm

Mental illness, has not been a barrier to success, but it has caused me to redefine success for myself. I am happy and balanced and I have good relationships and am able to live within my means. That is success. I am on SSDI and working part time. That might not sound like success, but working part time allows me to take the time I need to live a balanced life which keeps me healthy. When I was younger, I always imagined myself working full time, and I did for many years, and may be able to again in the future. But now, although I am living differently from how I ever imagined, I am successful.

christiana ekeke
April, 3 2015 at 5:46 pm

thank you for that!! very encouraging!

Dennis Monroe
April, 3 2015 at 9:03 am

Thank you for your honesty. It is so good to know I am not alone in my suffering.

Leave a reply