It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and recently, scrolling through my Instagram, I quickly felt the immense heartache surrounding mental health—the pain, shame, and complexity that comes with talking about one’s mental health, their illness or disorder. It’s not only that one’s mental health state can be very difficult to endure or manage, but the perception of others makes it even harder.
Our society doesn’t know how to have honest or open conversations about mental health, let alone allow the space needed to discuss its incredibly broad spectrum. Instead of embracing our mental health struggles and illnesses, we hide. We do our best to suppress them. We choose shame over self-love. Secrecy over freedom. Apparent “normalcy” over what is in fact very normal.
I couldn’t help but think about how different our internal experiences would be if our society, our loved ones, understood the scope of our mental health better. So for this week’s We Ask, You Answer, I’m curious: What do you wish people understood about your mental health, disorder, or illness? How different would your life be if your mental health were supported and celebrated by your community? And our society? What do you wish you could share? Can you share it now?
LET'S TALK: What do you wish people understood about your mental health, disorder, or illness?
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
I wish it was considered a medical condition by society. People think it’s weakness. But if they felt what I felt, they’d see carrying on with the day to day actually takes an incredible amount of strength.
I think being honest about how often I struggle for one, it’s hard especially telling people you love what you’re going through, it’s even harder when those people don’t necessarily believe in anxiety, and depression,
I’m not consciously suicidal if that makes sense, I was when I was younger, however now my traumas + my suicidal tendencies come back in my dreams, like night terrors, when I’m not doing well mentally I have constant suicidal dreams of driving off the edges of cliffs, and hiking, and intentionally jumping from rocky edges, I wake terrified, with more anxiety that I went to rest with, and it’s a constant battle, unfortunately
I wish people understood what my mental illness actually entails, not just assume what they’ve seen stigmatized by tv and society. I need people to educate themselves on different mental illnesses. Why does it become my responsibility to educate you before you treat me with the respect of any mentally healthy person? I think everything in my life would be easier if society understood Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Instead of constantly expected me to be tidy and organized, it would be nice if people understood how scary my brain is and that I’m an incredibly strong individual who has to struggle with this daily. OCD is not a fun quirky trait, it’s a debilitating disease.
I think most mental health conversations center around depression, even eating disorders .. but most of all… anxiety. They are the, I suppose, deemed the most socially acceptable, the most widely felt. They are not talked about enough, but still, they are not tabboo. But what about those mental illnesses that are hidden? That are barely spoken of? What about psychosis? Schizophrenia? Schizoaffective disorder? Dissociative identity disorder? Bipolar disorder? These are the things my family deals with, and as soon as I even mention the word “schizophrenia”, even illude to violent episodes, psychosis, or hallucinations, it’s like people go silent. They stare. They get wildly uncomfortable. Because anxiety, oh yeah, totes get that. But understanding something like hearing voices, or having uncontrollable moments of anger/violence, extreme paranoia…. it’s something they don’t want to hear. I personally don’t have these disorders, but both my brother and dad do. And these disorders are a part of my everyday life. They are a part of me. I’ve learned to accept and appreciate my brother and dad, who…we like to say…have “rainbow brains”. I don’t see Schizoaffective disorder (bipolar 1 + schizophrenia) as bad!! It just means they see the world differently, and the strength it takes to deal with psychosis is unreal and needs to be celebrated. People that deal with serious psychotic disorders should not be hidden in the shadows (esp men with mental illness, as they are largely left out of the mental health conversations on social media platforms). We need to welcome them into the mental health conversation with loving arms and applause ♥️
It’s not just a switch I can turn on and off. I don’t inflict my own stress upon myself. I struggle more with stress BECAUSE of my anxiety and depression. I’m a generally positive person, but when my mental illnesses overpower me then they ultimately outweigh my positive outlook.
That exercise is not about vanity for me it’s maintenance for my sanity and handling my anxiety
Being bipolar doesn’t mean that I’m crazy or a bad person. I also wish people understood that I need therapy AND medication in order to function normally. There is so much stigma/shaming around medications which is so frustrating
I feel like even though I’m in a healthier place than I’ve ever been, I’m still in a state of constant worry of what others think. All those years I was so sick and unwell with my eating disorder left me feeling like my life was under a microscope. If I went for a run or long walk, someone inevitably saw me and called my parents. If I said I already ate, no one believed me … if I declined food, it was assumed I was starving myself. If I ate “more than an anorexic would eat” ( whatever the fuck that is….) then it was assumed I would purge it. (lots of Karen’s out there 😳). Granted everyone had my best interest in place and was worried for my health and safety, it was awful. So freaking awful. So now… I struggle because I still worry that people are still judging every move, bite, and step I take. I’ve worked so freaking hard to leave that identity, yet feel like I never will if people continue to assume what they want to assume.
I wish people understood that I recognize that I have anxiety and don’t like it any more than they do.
Sometimes my loved ones say things like “why can’t you just be _____?” and it makes me feel as though they’re not even taking a second to examine the plight of experiencing a mental disorder. It’s not like I like being in this place; it’s that it requires much more effort for me to reach a state of normalcy. These are the cards I drew and I’m learning to work with them as best as I can, but I wish there was more compassion from others as I learn strategies for working with my mental illness.
I wish they knew that mental health is health and that it is something everyone deals with to some degree or another. I have never met a perfect person and more damage is done when we try to hide our vulnerabilities and fragility. To be human is to be crazy. Does anyone else have a mind? LOL