Growing up, the concept of a mental illness was always either romanticized, criticized or both. You’re given the idea that a mental illness is beautifully flawed and easily lost when handled a particular way. Take movies like Silver Linings Playbook, Wrist Cutters: A Love Story, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, The Art Of Getting By, and According To Greta. All of these books/movies have the misconception that mental illnesses are cute and funny and that there’s always going to be a set of people that’ll guide you through every aspect of it, but that’s rarely the case. Sometimes people don’t know they suffer from a mental illness, and sometimes the ones who do know aren’t able to seek the right kind of treatment, either due to guardian issues, misconceptions, self-diagnosis, or high treatment costs.
Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. However, a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function daily. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships.
Depression is a common mental illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It is very much real and quite an overpowering factor in your daily life. When a person has depression, it interferes with their daily life and normal functioning. Depression is not a sign of weakness nor is it a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better. Bottling it up can do more bad than good in the long run.
“Well, I suffered from pretty severe depression for many, many years. I kept my mouth shut about it for about 12 years. When I finally said something, my parents send me to therapy. My parents quickly stopped walking on eggshells around me and went back to treating me like they always did so I had to do what I thought was best for me in terms of finally getting over this crippling disorder. I’m not 100% cured and I still have episodes of it but my mental health is far improved compared to what it used to be and for that I’m grateful. But I know I did all of it on my own. My parents paid for things but they never understood. They cared but they didn’t really help. Most of the time you have to be there for yourself. My therapist was nice but he was almost too supportive. I didn’t want support. I wanted to be fixed. ” – Sri Lanka
“I suffer from major anxiety and sometimes I fall into depression where I feel neglected and I just wanna isolate myself so I find ways to self-harm or anything that can take my life away. well, my anxiety, yes my family is very much aware of it but as far as for depression, since I isolate myself, I don’t feel the need to talk about it. my parents think it’s a common thing and they do not wish to go on further checking because to them, I seem okay but I know for sure that I actually do need help.”- India
In reality, everyone wants to feel like they matter. Like they’re being heard but we often go through personal struggles that divide us in the way we see life and the way we see ourselves and the outcome aren’t often positive. In reality, it’s a much harsher outlook purely because a mental illness is something you have to face alone. Regardless of people being there to support you or not, the changes you go through are internal. Help can be given but not all of it is helpful and sometimes all you really want is the space to figure it out yourself and work through your demons.
“I am transgender, which causes me to have severe gender dysphoria and anxiety. That means that I have a very negative emotional reaction to my own body. It has made me try and lose a lot of weight as quickly as possible and self-harm. The self-harming can go from cutting to just scratching my arm bloody. I have come out to my mom but not my father. My mother has been supportive so far, and helped me go see a psychologist which helped me a little, however, because I am still nowhere near transitioning or living life openly as myself, the cause for the dysphoria and anxiety is still very present, and I expect it will continue to stay with me even after my transition.”- Germany
Self-harm firstly is something you should never put your mind or body through. There is no questioning or doubting that what you might/are going through is terrible but if you were (and you will) get out of that void, your scars might result in a relapse or reoccurrences of those bitter memories. Reliving the trauma is the last thing you need. You’ve worn your emotion in every possible style. Don’t hurt yourself any further.
“I know many people in my family with mental disorders and everyone dismisses them; they’re either not close enough to God or have gone mad. Most African elders see mental illness as something only westerners suffer with.” – Africa
Support is undoubtedly an extremely important factor and no support can do the just a family’s can. Having the support or understanding of a support system at the very least can go a long way. Sometimes families find it hard to accept your mental illness because it’s hard for them to consider it and not blame themselves or their actions for your current state. Regardless, not having a support system can just aggravate your state of mind. If making your friends/family understands your mental illness is hard, consult a doctor. This is often easier said than done but it’s extremely important you address your mental illness. Like a broken knee or a high fever, living with your mental illness and not seeking attention can do a whole lot of bad because if you let it go on for two long, you won’t be the same person you were before the fall.
“So I do believe that I have OCD…and I actually do…most of it is very petty stuff but some of it makes me a bit scared like I cannot listen to my car stereo music in odd numbers. If I do I will crash and die. Well, you get used to things like that; not so difficult just gotta adjust the volume. My family doesn’t really know this or even understand it. I once knew her a girl who was suffering from schizophrenia. It was intense. Her family knew and sort of didn’t give a shit about it. She used to imagine being attacked by random strangers and all that. Me and her we had this major attraction and really liked each other.” – UAE
It’s hard to talk about it. It’s even harder to address the intensity of a mental illness in an article but it needs to be said. It needs to be addressed and if no one wants to address it then it’s up to you to schedule an appointment with a doctor. It’s terrible to have to feel so alone in this and it must down right suck right now to feel unsupported through your times of need but it will make you a stronger person. Seek help online from reputed sites like 7 cups of tea if you’re not ready to talk to a person face-to-face or if you feel like you’re financially unable to seek appropriate therapy. You are one step closer to winning the battle against your mental illness by seeking help.
Stay strong. Keep fighting. You are so much more than your illness.