Mental Health.

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14 Jan 2014 15:39 - 14 Jan 2014 16:13 #133242 by steamboat28
Mental Health. was created by steamboat28
Considering that my appointment tomorrow will probably contain the precursor of an actual diagnosis, and considering the downswing I've had the last few days that led me to apparently frustrate someone earlier, I feel the need to address this topic seriously.

Mental illness is just that: illness. Why we, as a culture, don't treat it the same as other illnesses is something that completely baffles me. Instead, we treat them as simple moods (while some are called "mood disorders", don't be fooled into thinking that makes them easier to deal with) that people can be snapped out of. This occurs mostly in the less obvious disorders, such as depression and the varying flavors of bipolar disorder, because people "seem" fine so much more often than they are fine.

Many people will deal with someone claiming to be depressed by asking things like "Why?" or "What can I do?" They may be told to "Smile!" or to "Think happy thoughts!" or "Just snap out of it, already." Every one of these misses the point. Depression isn't a mood with a reason, it's a disorder that causes chemical imbalances that causes reasonless mood shifts and many accompanying physical problems that most people don't take the time to think about.

When I, as an individual, say "I'm feeling lazy," what I mean is that I really don't want to do anything. But, if I say I'm feeling "unmotivated," then that typically means that I want to be doing something, but I don't have the energy. And I can't just drum up the energy from nowhere any more than I can conjure fire without a Zippo. I know when my moods have a reason and when they make no sense; it's in that latter category that I need the most understanding. And everyone who suffers from these kinds of things does, too.

Things like depression and bipolar disorder don't just alter our moods, they alter a lot of other things. You may experience lethargy or sloth or physical pain or frustration. Insomnia and depression have very high co-morbidity rates, meaning that if you suffer one, you're more likely to have to deal with the other, too. A lack of sleep does nothing to help your condition (or your mood), and causes additional negative physical symptoms. This is in addition to the unexplained apathy, unpredictable behavior, and occasionally nihilistic thought processes that typically accompany many mental disorders, many of which lead to suicidal thoughts and actions.

If these conditions have such a possibility to negatively impact our health (and, in some cases, take our very lives), why do we treat them as simple "bad moods?" Why do we ask people to "cheer up" or "try harder?" These are medically and scientifically verifiable conditions, not simple cases of the feel-bads. Telling people with mental illness to change their thought pattern is as effective as asking Alzheimer patients to remember important facts on command through sheer willpower, or asking people with heart disease to lower their cholesterol through the power of positive thinking, or telling a legless person to just "get up and walk, already." If the answer were so simple, we'd have done it already.

Not only that, but such replies belittle our experiences and further make us feel like failures. If the ability to control our mood is solely within our mind, then obviously we're well and truly screwed up failures if we can't get hold of that. If the answer is so simple as to just "be happy," and we can't even do that right, what good are we?

This kind of pressure has other forms, too. In the link below entitled "Furthermore," I discuss the negative effects of religion and faith on the mentally ill in cases where they're told that their conditions are purely the side effect of not having enough faith. This is highly dangerous, as it exacerbates the social stigma against mental illness even further. To say that one is not a proper Christian/Buddhist/Jew/Jedi/Sikh/Pastafarian/whatever just because they have a mental illness they can't deal with through "faith" or "willpower" alone serves to add negativity to mental illnesses which generally already bring about doubts and fears of inadequacy. It is another sense of failure, and in order to mitigate it, many people will forgo legitimate courses of therapy and medication for the purpose of using "faith alone" to fight their mental illness. At best, this is a band-aid cure, treating the external symptoms (to make them easier for others to deal with), while the root cause of these issues grows without anything to stop it. This is potentially deadly for someone with a mental illness. It is torturous, it is cruel, and it should be discontinued in every faith that allows its members to practice it.

I'm gonna drop a few links below. These aren't sunshine-and-kittens links, so be prepared. They're links that are honest, and take a look at the situation in a serious manner in a not-always-serious tone, and (more often than not) use some "adult language" to get the point of their frustrations across.. They will not bombard you with stuffed animals and Care Bear Stares. Rather, they'll help to explain why the approaches we currently have are not the best approaches for the health and well-being of those suffering with these issues.
Last edit: 14 Jan 2014 16:13 by steamboat28.
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14 Jan 2014 15:58 #133247 by Wescli Wardest
Replied by Wescli Wardest on topic Mental Health.
I am not a healthcare professional nor am I saying that anything I say, type or do should be considered as good advice!

“Mental illness is just that: illness. Why we, as a culture, don't treat it the same as other illnesses is something that completely baffles me.”


What I have observed is many times people use their diagnosis to define themselves, when the diagnosis is just a name we give to a set of things that are a part of us. I am not making light of any mental illness or any diagnosis at all. What I am saying is that someone is not a *insert mental illness*, they are diagnosed as displaying the characteristics of that particular illness, IE a diagnosis. Or I guess I could say, don’t let someone else’s opinion define how you see yourself.

Why people don’t treat mental illness like an illness? I have no idea. The symptoms of many mental illnesses come and go like allergies. If the allergy is not bad, we take something for it when symptoms flair up. If it is bad, we have a prescription to take regularly. I would guess that it goes both ways… why don’t people with mental illness treat themselves as if they have an illness? (playing Devil’s advocate) Many I know try to be completely “normal” like everyone else, even when it is clear they are suffering from the symptoms at that point. When I don’t feel well, suffering from symptoms of some illness, I try to rest and get over what is bothering me according to the symptom. IE, lie down, rest, take allergy medicine… whatever!

Perhaps we, as a culture, don’t treat it the same as any other illness because as a culture we do not treat any illness with the degree of respect we should. Whether it is the common cold or schizophrenia we do not seem to recognize the severity of the symptoms to the individual or to ourselves.

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14 Jan 2014 16:07 - 14 Jan 2014 16:41 #133249 by Rickie The Grey
Replied by Rickie The Grey on topic Mental Health.
Good luck. I'm sure everything will be fine. :)
Last edit: 14 Jan 2014 16:41 by Rickie The Grey.

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14 Jan 2014 16:34 #133256 by Brian
Replied by Brian on topic Mental Health.
I have had my struggles with mental illness including depression. I have had a lot of experience with the mental health industry and have had a lot of success dealing with my particular issues. Things like therapy, medication and twelve-step programs can be very helpful. But in dealing with mental health practitioners one has to be a smart consumer. Finding the right doctor, therapist, medication takes time. Good luck to you Steamboat!

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14 Jan 2014 16:57 #133261 by tzb
Replied by tzb on topic Mental Health.

Wescli Wardest wrote:

“Mental illness is just that: illness. Why we, as a culture, don't treat it the same as other illnesses is something that completely baffles me.”


What I have observed is many times people use their diagnosis to define themselves, when the diagnosis is just a name we give to a set of things that are a part of us. I am not making light of any mental illness or any diagnosis at all. What I am saying is that someone is not a *insert mental illness*, they are diagnosed as displaying the characteristics of that particular illness, IE a diagnosis. Or I guess I could say, don’t let someone else’s opinion define how you see yourself.

Why people don’t treat mental illness like an illness? I have no idea.


When I have a cold, I hate the cold. When I have depression, I hate myself. I suppose that's where the identification with the illness comes in... it's almost a symptom of the illness. I agree it's unbelievably unhelpful and something anyone with a mental illness needs to keep in mind and work against.

Perhaps one reason we don't treat mental illness as an illness is the visibility of symptoms. In the street people can't hide red eyes and runny noses so we don't feel bad when we get a cold. People rarely break down in the street for no obvious reason, and they all managed to get out of bed, so when these things happen to us we feel we must be fundamentally abnormal.

Also, we all get sad sometimes, but we don't always need medication for it. I think a certain amount of the ambivalence people feel about mental illness comes from the fact they feel they've been sad before, anxious before etc but got through it... people think they have to be stoic and "get through it" again, even if the symptoms are a hundred times worse. But there's not point of stoicism in the face of something which, through treatment, we have the capacity to change.

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14 Jan 2014 17:21 #133267 by Wescli Wardest
Replied by Wescli Wardest on topic Mental Health.

tzb wrote: When I have a cold, I hate the cold. When I have depression, I hate myself. I suppose that's where the identification with the illness comes in... it's almost a symptom of the illness.


That is a very interesting perspective I have never thought about before. I know that I become a big baby when I do not feel well; and, that is the only thing I could think of to compare it to so that I could better understand what's going on. Gain a more common frame of reference so to say.

Very interesting… and it has given me something else to think about. ;)

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14 Jan 2014 17:53 #133270 by Kohadre
Replied by Kohadre on topic Mental Health.
Having experienced mania and mild psychosis for the past few days, and having lived with multiple diagnosis for 14 years now, I can definitely relate to living with mental illness.

Personally, I enjoy the mania and psychosis in some sick...twisted way. It's just the depression that I have to come to love :laugh:

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14 Jan 2014 18:15 #133274 by Kit
Replied by Kit on topic Mental Health.
I think, during the worst of mine, I felt I was broken. Unfixable. And coming from one who prides herself on strength and independence, it was hard to bear. I never spoke about it at work. These people are suppose to be my wingmen, yet I am also suppose to lead them. How could I lead if they knew I was broken? If I DID manage to say anything, much of the response was "look at their life. It's so much worse than yours. How could you be sad?" So I stubbornly believed in it. But when that stained-glass window shattered under pressure, I wasn't left with much I could hold onto. Just broken pieces. But I looked just fine.

I was angry at myself for my weakness. Angry at those around me because they couldn't understand that what they offered, wouldn't help. Like I hadn't tried that before. Couldn't they see I was broken?

So I withdrew from the world. I withdrew from myself. I've gotten really good at shutting down, ducking my head, and plodding onward. But only where necessary. I would only leave the house for work by myself. I would only leave for food if I had someone with me. There were sometimes I didn't eat because we literally had no food in the house. I had already eaten all the candy in trying to avoid leaving. At my very worst, I would even withdraw from my friends online. I didn't have to force expressions or interest while I was online.... But I felt I couldn't get support from anyone anywhere. No forums, no multiplayer video games, no skype, no Facebook. Most of those time it was me and my book, or me and my sleep. I didn't want to inflict myself on others and didn't have the energy to do anything else. I spent all of it trying to maintain my mascaraed of normalcy.

When I had a major realization, I went into Mental Health. I had no idea what I was doing there or how they could possibly help me. I secretly wanted them to give me some sort of magical medication fix. Even if that meant I was no longer in the military because of it....My biggest turning point in therapy was when the doc made me realize I WASN'T broken.

A lot of why people don't see mental illness is it looks like a lot of self-infliction. And a lot of it is hidden. It's hard to explain why you feel the way you do when there IS no reason for it. But if there's no reason, then we all can get better right? Nothin' to fear, nothing to be sad about. So it's all good.

I fear going to new places. Doing new things. I felt like a coward. I didn't like that, so I simply hid. It took over three months of working with Mental Health to get to WHY. THAT's how ingrained this stuff is. And I'm classified as "mild".
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14 Jan 2014 18:35 #133278 by Wescli Wardest
Replied by Wescli Wardest on topic Mental Health.
That is very touching Kamizu... and very informative. Thank you for sharing. :)

I have never been diagnosed with anything and (I don't know how to say it without sounding callous) I am always trying to "figure" it out and understand it. Mainly because it is a topic that does hold a significance to me for personal reasons.

If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a few questions and if you would answer them and they are too personal, PM would be cool too. ;)

Do you know what started it? Like... what was the reason? Does isolating yourself create a cycle that just worsens the condition? (that is just a theory)

And I guess a question to everyone else, how do you "know" you might have an issue?

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14 Jan 2014 18:46 - 14 Jan 2014 18:48 #133279 by Rickie The Grey
Replied by Rickie The Grey on topic Mental Health.
You're unhappy for no reason, tired and rest doesn't refresh, nothing feels right, no one understands or so you think, you keep it inside, slowly withdraw and you spiral down. At first it feels like comfort from stress and then it is the stress. Kind of like being addictive to incorrect emotions. Some may feel differently but once caught in the grip of depression it takes great strength of will and faith to weaken the grip and walk away but it's still in the shadows waiting for you to weaken again and to welcome and embrase you.
Last edit: 14 Jan 2014 18:48 by Rickie The Grey.

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