Mental illness is known to be a devastating disease that is well understood by the treatment community. In recent years however, we have heard more input from patients (commonly referred to as “consumers”) about their experience with mental illnesses of all types.
Clinicians have known symptoms to be unbearable for those suffering from diseases such as major depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. Now that consumers have entered into the discussion, better understandings and new insights are being posed everyday.
As a consumer who has dealt with a history of depression, I would like to discuss my experience having and living with a mental health issue. The usual ways some consumers explaining the difficulties of their illness are in terms of the many losses they have had to endure as a result of it. Things such as not being able to have a job, or a car, or money, and being estranged from loved ones, are certainly most disabling for consumers or anyone for that matter. These are obvious basic necessities for happiness that everyone should be entitled to have in their life.
What I would like to address is my experience of wanting these basic necessities but feeling unable to take the steps necessary to begin to make progress in that direction. Some might say it is a feeling of being “stuck,” unable to move forward with life-changing achievements.
At the onset of my illness I found that I was unable to do the things I was accustomed to doing. I became so overwhelmed trying to care for myself that much of the rest of my life was put on hold. I had to give up my dreams of working or finishing school. I even believed that I could not continue my relationship with my girlfriend because I felt that she would only see me at my worst.
When my mental health condition was at its worst, I doubted everything, especially things about myself. It felt like I was losing my mind. At the same time, I was aware of the inherent stigma associated with having a mental illness. The most heart-breaking experience for me was my own thinking that I would have to succumb to my every fear in order to find peace in my madness. The madness was better than trying to cling to the little sanity that I could grasp. This is what began the disability, which I am referring to; it was like sinking into a vast oblivion, an abyss of almost being on the inside of me, looking out. My illness created a void in my life that I would never be able to fill and many people told me that I would never be able to regain the life I once knew.
The process of getting better or recovery as we now call it, is finding ways to close the distance between truth and confusion — to open up the lines of communication, bridge the gap, and link one person to another. Communication with a mentally traumatized person means changing negative comprehensions to positive ones.
How does an unhealthy mind disable me? First, there is such very low self-esteem. If I shall fall into a hole of depression, then, my only preoccupation will be to come out or to reach for the top. That may help me to get out, initially. Still, I must begin to move away from that hole so as not to fall back in it. My disability is therefore this struggle to stay out of the hole and to know that I am, indeed out. Sometimes, with mental illness we have to first validate that it is possible to get out or to recover before proceeding any further. The feeling persists that although I have been out before, it is easy to fall back into a depression, for example, as when a loved one passes away. Therefore, I need supports including self-supports, in place, to help reassure me that I can stay mentally healthy under most circumstances; particularly, those circumstances, which occur as a part of living. It is at this point, being able to use a self-supportive and networking system, I can stop allowing a mental health issue from making me disabled. As a result, just maybe, then, I could work or drive or enjoy my life with family. In addition, I may even be able to look up an old girlfriend, using social media systems to see how she has fared.
My point here is that we must stop creating negative environments with negative attitudes. We must learn to focus on “positives” with impetus and input to solve problems. We must not focus on the circumstances or the persons. The mind is still a terrible thing to waste, not just for a person suffering with a mental health issue, but it is also a tragic waste for anyone trying to be a helper to that suffering person. You can sometimes use a healthy mind to comfort an unhealthy mind or someone having a problem. Disability occurs when no one, neither consumer nor helper, is able to think anything positive or to do anything helpful, using forward-thinking. www.jeffreyvperry.com