What is mental illness? Do you know? Has it ever affected your life? Do you know someone who suffers from it? Do you know what mental illness looks like? Do you judge all those labeled with this illness or show compassion? Do you hide behind a smile in hopes no one discovers your secret?
If you look up the words mental illness or ‘google’ it, this is what you will find: Mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness.
If you look up the two words individually, this is what you will find: mental: relating to the mind and or relating to disorders of the mind. Illness: a disease or period of sickness affecting the body or mind.
There is quite the stigma or shame attached to this label, thus, preventing some from seeking help. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical problem, just like heart disease or diabetes.
Just a century ago (and less, sadly) if you were thought to have a mental illness or showed signs of rebellion then off you would go into the loony bin, the madhouse, booby-hatch, funny farm, nut house, rubber room, insane asylums, the list goes on for miles. The suffering of human beings along with the loss and corruption of humanity back in the days before reform and accountability for the treatment towards patients will give you unimaginable nightmares. Those that were committed to ‘psychiatric hospitals’ were either never seen again or unable to live a normal existence in society due to the treatments. I use the word treatment loosely when referring to the medical attention patients received, as many were used for experimental procedures and new control techniques or fell subject to sadistic ideas of the caregivers. Men, women, and children of all ethnicities were subject to the cruel practices of these institutions. We, as humans, created our own fear of mental illness by ignorance and indifference to others pain and suffering.
In the modern day, we have developed hundreds of new drugs to help cope with many of the mental disorders such as depression, bipolar, anxiety, schizophrenia, psychotic, personality, eating, mood, substance, etc., again the list goes on for miles. You can’t turn on the tv without an advertisement for a new miracle drug to help combat your depression or some medical ailment. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in pharmaceutical use to help with serious mental issues, however, I also know that not all mental issues can be covered up by the magic new pill they happen to be pushing each month.
It seems to me that we, as a whole, have become so dependent on the pharmaceutical companies to provide us with a legal way to not feel our natural emotions such as pain and anger. We want a pill to give us a natural happy feel all the time so we don’t get upset about life being hard and disappointing at times. What is the difference between a ‘junkie’ that buys from a dealer on the corner to kill his/her pain or the insurance companies handing us bottles of emotional pain killers? One is legal and one is not but both are a lucrative business and both will kill you quicker than the pain you feel from something bad that happened in your life.
Many mental illnesses are to be taken very seriously and should always have professional help in the way of psychological and pharmaceutical therapy to maintain a safe and productive life. I am by no means presenting myself as a professional, these are just my formed opinions from a lifetime of living with mental illness and the collateral damage it causes those subjected to it on a daily base. When a child is not shown the proper coping skills for dealing with things, good and bad, that are part of life then they must learn on their own while encountering life events. When a child has love withheld or used as a manipulation tool then they must learn what love is on their own, which is extremely dangerous without a proper example to pull from. When a child doesn’t know the difference between a normal family dynamic and one that is driven by mental illness and anger, then they must learn as they build their own family and hope they can break the cycle.
Mental illness can be passed through generations of a family by DNA and it can also be passed by scars that it leaves on those in its path. I know that both parts of the latter sentence are fact.
Mental illness can manifest within a child or adult that came from a perfectly balanced family with happiness in their heart but had something traumatic happen that caused a sickness you can not see. A sickness that has the potential to become malignant and cold if nurtured and embraced rather then processed and left in the past as you move forward embracing the good and positive things offered in life.
Memories and significant events from the past can never be changed, it’s as simple as that. They will always be part of the history that help shape you BUT if the past is allowed to define who you become then moving forward into a healthier and happier self will not and can not happen. That is unfair to those that want to love you. It is cheating yourself from sharing love and compassion to others. Building self-worth by embracing love and kindness has immense healing powers for the soul.
Overcoming the obstacles in life we fall prey to, will build strength and empower you to stand firm in a world that will admire the light shining from within. It will work as a beacon to those that have suffered similar scars. It will guide someone else from the dark shadows and widen the beam for others. The snowball effect works for the positive as well.
BE SOMEONES LIGHT INSTEAD OF EXTINGUISHING YOUR OWN.