It shouldn’t be just a week for something like this, but this is mental Illness Awareness week. Oh please don’t cringe, it is not a bad word. There is such a stigmatization attached to the word “mental”. As children you probably often would call another child mental… or perhaps still do. Mental just means in the head, the mind, that is all.
Mental illness is no different than any physical condition. If someone has a broken arm you show them sympathy, offer to help, sign their cast, hold things for them….
but when you hear the words mental illness.. what do you do? Do you get a strange look on your face, fold your arms and put on a smile that covers what you are feeling?
There are many forms of Mental Illnesses and they are at times, difficult to diagnose. To do so you need to look at what the person says… how they think and react. Often they go untreated, because the person doesn’t feel there is something wrong or because of the stigmatization attached to it.
it shouldn’t be that way.
People wait a long time before seeking help. Just like most illnesses, the sooner something is treated, the more likelihood of success. Now dont cringe again and think it has been left too late, it is never too late. *nods lots*. It is just that feeling of embarrassment that is felt. Don’t be embarrassed. And if someone in your family needs help or is getting help.. YAY… feel proud. They will get better. Help them.
Symptoms you can watch for: a depressed mood, massive swings in mood, anxiety, obsessions, and fear. and some more difficult ones to see… disturbances in thought or perception. Now everyone will be depressed now and again, or anxious about things, and fear is good… but there are limits. perhaps you feel these things quite often?
you can ask you know. if it is bothering you. please ask.
here is something for you to read, it is very well written:
People with depression are not just sad. Their depressed mood is constant and lasts for a period of time and/or leads to a loss of interest or ability to enjoy and accomplish usual activities.
They lose interest in work and relationships. They can be irritable. They may experience sudden weight gain or weight loss.
They may sleep all the time or very little. They have difficulty getting up to face the day.
They may drink excessively or use drugs to help manage their overwhelming feelings.
They have thoughts such as “the world would be better off without me.” Some act on these thoughts and attempt suicide.
Others hide what they are really thinking and put on a brave face when among others.
People with bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression) experience emotional extremes. In the manic phase of their illness, they can be hyperactive and show poor judgment, or have faulty beliefs and perceptions that lead to risky behaviours or financial losses.
In the depressive phase, they experience the symptoms described above under depression.
People with bipolar disorder may use alcohol of drugs to try and manage their symptoms and they may attempt suicide. They also may come into contact with the law due to the behaviours while in a manic phase.
While the depressive phase is extremely painful, the manic phase can be a euphoric experience with many people with bipolar disorder remembering these times as an exciting and very wild ride – until they had to face the consequences.
People with schizophrenia experience disturbances in their thoughts and perceptions. They can hear voices or see things that aren’t there. They may also hold beliefs that others find bizarre or that are not accurate – for example, they are a famous person, they are being followed, or the television sends them secret messages.
Sometimes these thoughts and delusions are friendly, but in other instances they are frightening. They can get so caught up in this inner world that they isolate themselves from others, forget to shower or eat and withdraw from usual activities.
When questioned about what is going on, they may make no sense at all as their ability to communicate can be disturbed.
The symptoms of schizophrenia most commonly emerge when people are in their late teens or early adulthood.
This is a collection of problems that involve, in one way or another, excessive worry, fear, avoidance and irritability.
- Panic attacks where the heart races, people break out in a sweat and they can, literally, feel they are about to die;
- Agoraphobia characterized by extreme fear of leaving home or of deviating from a highly prescribed pattern of travel (for example, to work and back but nowhere else);
- Social phobia where people are so anxious in the presence of unfamiliar others that they avoid social situations;
- Various phobias where people have strong fears that are out of proportion and often related to objects, animals, reptiles or insects, experiences (flying or heights), needles, or the sight of blood (as only a few examples);
- Obsessive compulsive disorder where, for example, people perform certain acts repetitively (hand washing, repeating a certain string of numbers, touching a certain object – there are endless examples) in the belief that doing so will prevent some feared event or consequence;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which emerges after a person has witnessed or experienced an event where they feared for their life (or another’s) and felt they could do nothing to save themselves (or the other person). PTSD is characterized by intrusive memories (flashbacks) of the event just as if it were happening all over again, avoidance of anything that reminds them of the event (sounds, places, or smells), emotional numbing, lack of concentration, sleep disturbances and nightmares, explosive anger and jumpiness (easily startled).
These disorders emerge when people (most typically girls and women, but some boys and men as well) either starve themselves even when they are very underweight (anorexia nervosa) or, alternatively eat huge amounts of food (binge) and then cause themselves to vomit (purge) – bulimia. Both disorders can involve the mis-use of laxatives.
Anorexia is particularly dangerous as persistent starvation affects organ function and can ultimately result in death. People with anorexia have disturbed body images in that they perceive themselves as fat even when they are skin and bone.
Bulimia can result in damage to the oesophagus, mouth and teeth due to repeated exposure to the corrosive nature of acidic vomit.
These involve patterns or ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, in relation to oneself and others, that are longstanding, not easily changed and lead to distress for the individual and problems across a wide range of life circumstances and situations. Being longstanding, personality disorders often have their roots in childhood experiences and events.
Still with me? I really hope so. Just like everything else it all starts with one step and please, please, don’t feel embarrassed about seeking help, if you cut your finger badly.. do you not seek help?
and does anyone look down at you?
And mental illnesses are no different.
Treatments have improved soooooo much too. Using drugs and psychotherapy either or both, so many conditions can be eliminated or brought to levels that you will hardly notice, and there are other treatments as well. But until you take the first step.. nothing will happen.
looks seriously at you… it is nothing to be ashamed of. Be proud of who you are, shame has no part in health.
hmm, here are some quotes
“It is not about being classified by your mental illness: it is about learning to accept yourself and seize the day for all it is worth – because tomorrow will be different.”
“Mental ill health feels just as bad, or worse, than any other illness – only you cannot see it.”
“Never be ashamed of having bad days, weeks or even months – because they show your inner strength, even if you can’t see it yourself at the time. “
eeps I wrote another book.. 1400 words.. gawds I do go on.
I hope this helps someone.
oh and you are not alone you know. one in five will suffer from mental illness in their lives. But less than half will seek help. please be the half that does.