It’s a common mistake of society to assume you know what mental health is all about. But we all do it, I have just done it myself with the very first sentence in this blog. To generalise something, just because you “think” you know all about it.
Like I said in my first blog post – the responsibility is ours. To make sure that the uninformedgeneral society, gets informed. Not by the professionals, those with loads and loads of knowledge acquired through books and research. But by us, the ones who have first-hand experience of what it is to suffer from mental illness.
Let me start off to say that I think the biggest mistake made by society, is to “assume” that mental illness and those with mental disability is one and the same thing. It is not.
Mental illness can be managed by medication and you can still lead a “normal” and fulfilled life, enjoy normal intelligence and abilities. It is caused by either a lack of chemicals or some problem with the chemicals in your brain.
Mental disability, on the other hand, is exactly what it says. It is caused by damage to the brain, either since birth, accident, illness, etc. and can be equally debilitating and distressing. But you can not “cure” it and you can not manage it. Living a fulfilled life will mean to a limited extent. It can’t be “fixed”.
In my experience this is where the generalisation or stereotyping or (wrongful) assumptions are made. People with mental illnesses are (wrongfully) may be treated like they are mentally disabled by the uninformed. This is why keep our mental state under wraps, mostly. You don’t want to be treated like you’re mentally disabled.
I have come across many people with mental illness issues in my life, and sometimes were amazed to learn they have a mental illness at all! It’s not about how others perceive you, it’s about how you perceive your illness yourself.
So I learnt a few lessons – and by sharing them, I am not judging anyone. I am merely trying to share my thoughts, so I’ll be glad if someone can use it. If not, please don’t feel judged – every one of us have different circumstances so it will not be same for everyone.
I’ve learned that:
- You can still get up, dress and go to work even if the big black dog is trying to bite you in the heels
- You can still smile and pretend to be okay even if you’re falling apart on the inside
- BUT: it’s okay to NOT be okay and let yourself fall apart sometimes
- If you are waiting for someone to come and give you a hug – it’s not going to happen.
- It’s okay to walk up to a loved one and tell them: “I don’t want to talk about it, I just need a hug.”
- It’s okay to sometimes not get up and get dressed – just make a promise to yourself that you WILL get up again and put a time limit on it. (eg. “I will get up tomorrow and go to the store. But today I’m staying in bed.”)
- You will feel better if you take a bath/shower and dress up nicely – or at least, this works for me!
- Don’t expect your loved ones or friends to understand – but be prepared to answer questions and explain why you feel the way you do and act the way you do.
- The bottom line is: don’t let your mental illness become your mental disability. Don’t let it keep you from being the person you were meant to be or have the life that you wanted. It CAN be managed, if not cured. If you don’t feel better, speak to your psychiatrist and have them change your meds till you get something that works for you to be YOU again.
I want to repeat it, even if this is the only thing you remember from all my ramblings:
Don’t let your mental ILLNESS become your mental DISABILITY.