This post is one I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but I’ve finally got round to it today after seeing the #ChangingMinds tag on Twitter. The question posed was what do you wish more people understood about mental illness – so here’s what I wish more of my friends and family understood.
We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Some of us just aren’t as healthy as others.
1 in 4 people will have a mental illness during their lifetime. It’s that common.
If you ask how I am and I say I’m fine, I’m probably lying. But don’t push it because if I really want you to know I will tell you.
Just because you know someone else with the same diagnosis as me doesn’t mean that I’m capable of the same things. Your friend with anxiety and depression can go to social gatherings; I struggle to.
No, cyclothymia isn’t “pretend bipolar”.
Most people with a mental illness look and act just like everyone else.
Anti-depressants aren’t a bad thing. They can be life-savers, literally. They’re not a magic cure though and it can take time to find the right ones.
The same is true for any kind of psychiatric drug.
Also exercise. Although it can be helpful to some people, it can be detrimental or just unhelpful to others.
People with a mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators.
It can be frightening, fighting for control of your own mind every day.
If I drop off the radar for a while, it’s almost certainly because I’m having a hard time and nothing to do with you.
The same is true if I cancel plans to meet at the last minute.
Some people recover from mental illness. For many it’s a lifelong condition.
Not recovering from a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re not fighting it hard enough, or that you’re wallowing in it. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak either.
Feeling suicidal isn’t weak or selfish. Killing yourself isn’t weak or selfish.
Self-harming, in whatever form it takes, isn’t weak or selfish. It’s a coping mechanism when nothing else can help.
Talking about mental illness and sharing experiences can be really interesting.
If you’re sympathetic to someone with a physical illness, you should be sympathetic to someone with a mental illness. It’s just as painful, often more so.
Some days just getting out of bed or leaving the house is a struggle. That’s not the same as being lazy.
Mental health services are having their funding cut across the board. It’s never been easy to access help, in some cases it’s now nearly impossible.
If you don’t understand something, it’s better to ask than to make assumptions.
I could write many more of these but I won’t – please feel free to add your own though, and please do look at #ChangingMinds. I’d like to leave you with this:
(From/by Boggle the Owl).