Accepting Mental Illnesses For What They Are
On this blog we have previously gone over what to expect, and how to react to a depression diagnosis.
Full article here: Diagnosed with Depression, What To Do Next
Yet, it is possible that maybe you’ve received this diagnosis, or any other for that matter, in the past but are feeling stuck. If you’ve been in the mental health system for long enough, you’ve probably been around addicts in recovery. Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard the saying “The first step to fixing a problem, is acknowledging you have one.” The thing is, this saying can be applied to every aspect of your life. Particularly if you have a mental illness and haven’t been receiving professional treatment for it.
Mental illness is just that, an illness, a disease.
Contrary to what the general populace may believe, mental illness is as serious, if not more than physical illnesses. The problem here is that most mental illnesses, if handled well, can be invisible. Yet on the inside, the afflicted person can be suffering excruciatingly. Now whether you’re on medication(s) that help with the illness, or you’ve become so adept at hiding your symptoms; the prognosis is the same. You are sick, and you need treatment. Only a medical professional can make the distinction between the illnesses that can be treated with diet, hard work, and time; and those that are life long afflictions that need constant medical care to be manageable.
If you are unlucky enough to belong to the second category, than the first thing you need to do is to let yourself come to terms with the fact that you are sick. Also, in most cases, it will not get better on its own. For most people, this can be the most difficult part of treating mental health. The reason being that for the most part, mental illness has become the butt a joke for those who have never dealt with it. Depression has become just a general sadness, anxiety has become an excuse, PTSD is just a term used when something bad had happened. People who’ve never actually felt what these things do to a person, can laugh them all off as just descriptors in their everyday lives. However, for those who live with these illnesses day in and day out, this mentality of mental illness not being taken seriously can prevent us from acknowledging that ours is actually a problem.
The internet is flooded these days with articles about curing depression by going outside, anxiety being managed by just getting more comfortable with your activity, etc. While I do not doubt that these things can be used as coping mechanisms to manage symptoms, it devalues the pain, fear, and suffering that we feel. It doesn’t allow us to speak up and say, “I’m really depressed, I’ve even thought of killing myself” without being bombarded with the usual, just don’t be sad anymore, or think of how many people have it worse. The list is truly endless, which is why we need to stand up for ourselves. The ugly truth of the matter is that there may be a time when you are forced to receive treatment because people are afraid of, or for you. We have to look at ourselves and question if what we are doing now is really working. Only you know that answer for yourself, but if it happens to be no; then maybe you should really reevaluate your stance on your own mental health.
Although we may not want to admit it, we are unable to help others, until we help ourselves. If you take anything away from this article, don’t let it be an anger towards those who misunderstand you. Let this article lead you towards improving not only yourself, but passing your knowledge and experience forward. We are a community that helps each other out, not just this blog, but the entirety of the mental health community. Share this with your friends, your family, maybe even your therapy group. My hope is that at least one person reads this, and gets the help they truly need.
If you think I’ve missed anything, please say so in the comments! I mean what good is a community if we don’t help each other!
Photo Credit: Unsplash: Mico Dimalanta