Mental Illness, Stigma/Taboo

Let’s talk about mental illness.

Welcome back blog readers,

I’d like to talk about mental illness in hopes to raise awareness and encourage those who have not made an attempt to seek help, to do just that.

As a kid growing up in the 80’s I knew mental illness to be associated with episodes of paranoia, delusions, schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, dementia and bipolar/manic episodes. Those people suffering from any of those would likely be medicated or be placed in a psych ward/institution. I’m just making the point that mental illness was depicted in this manner in the 1980’s.

Mental illness was a topic that was not discussed openly at that time. Those that dared to speak/gossip about it was usually kept it very hush hush. It was almost as if people didn’t want to be associated with a family member that was experiencing any form of mental illness because maybe it’s hereditary.

As a kid in the 1990’s kids being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD were on the rise. It seemed as if half of the students were on that spectrum and most were prescribed Ritalin as a way of helping them to stay focused. If I’m completely honest all kids have trouble staying focused, they’re kids. Kids are full of energy, those of you with toddlers know what I mean, they are like the energizer bunny. It’s normal and doesn’t always need to be diagnosed. Yes, I understand how a lack of focus can be disruptive to the rest of the class, but it wouldn’t hurt to teach kids in a manner that works better for them. I’m not trying to discredit the legit cases, but I suspect that many were bogus claims. Back to the topic of discussion.

By the 2000’s the trending diagnosis was Autism. Autism a term rarely heard has now become a household term.  We all know a family with a child that has been diagnosed with autism. By 2010 the trending mental disorder was and still is Anxiety and the wide spectrum that is associated with it.

Anxiety doesn’t seem to have the same negative stigma around it. I suspect that is because we all have experienced a form of anxiety to some degree which makes it easier to sympathize with someone who suffers from a form of anxiety. I suppose when we talk about anxiety we are also including some form of depression. Again, we have all experienced depression at some point, so we understand what another person might be going through.

While experiencing anxiety and depression are very common as a human, when anxiety is prolonged with depression and panic; that now becomes mentally debilitating causing one to constantly struggle with their thoughts and how they interpret information.

Someone who is diagnosed as bipolar will have severe mood swings that are uncontrollable and easily triggered. They can start their day in a great mood and with little to zero notice their mood will swing the opposite way and become severely depressed or full of rage. An incident like a customer cutting in front of you in the check out line might be annoying/frustrating to most of us, but to the person who is bipolar, that same incident will cause them to blow their lid and their entire day is ruined.

A person that is bipolar is very difficult to be around if they don’t have their mental illness under control. They will often say very hurtful things to their loved ones when they are in their manic state of mind to which they feel justified in saying without remorse or an apology. Any slight injustice or hiccup in their day to a person that is bipolar may make them feel that the world is out to get them.

My very long winded point is this, should you suspect that you are dealing with any form of prolonged anxiety, panic attacks, severe depression, bipolar or any other mental illness, please seek help/support. You may not be aware as to the added stress that you are putting your family/friends/co-workers through on a regular basis. You don’t realize that you are burning bridges.

  • The section on bipolar is meant for a particular individual, not meant as a blanket statement.

Seek out a support group either locally or online from the comfort of your home in your pajamas. Talk to others that have the same diagnosis and see what they are doing to manage their mental illness. If medication doesn’t sound like an option, then look into finding a coping technique that will help to calm you down, help you to focus, help you to not lose your cool. Perhaps meditation or yoga might help. Look into your health benefits as many plans provide coverage for mental health support.

We all need a form of support in our lives at some point or another. To require support is not a sign of weakness. There is nothing wrong with getting a professional opinion or seeking encouragement from friends/family.

Accept that you may not be able to get through this on your own and make an effort to better yourself. You are loved and we just want you to be happy.

Let’s keep talking about mental health because we all know someone who is dealing with some form of mental illness. ~ Hannah

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