Everyone would like to think they are mentally healthy. Unfortunately, it is simply not the case. Some individuals have disorders that make life more difficult for them. Others have mental illnesses affecting the lives of everyone in their personal circles. Mental illness influences every facet of life. But, many people cannot recognize a mental disorder in themselves; if they do, the stigma of admitting a problem prevents them from asking for help. Thus, it is a vicious cycle for them and their loved ones. They need to understand how to achieve mental health.
Naturally, an individual does not like to admit to a mental health disorder. What will people think? How will it affect employment? Will insurance cover treatment or medication? So many questions and so many unclear answers lead to:
- Pretending nothing is wrong
- Refusal to get help
- Problems at work and home
In truth, seeking mental health treatment is seen as a catch 22. If the person does not get help, the mental issues will adversely affect all areas of life at home, at work, and in social situations. But, getting help can also negatively influence every day-or so it seems.
The Attitude Adjustment
The first step is to change how you think about mental illness. First of all, you are not alone. Chances are good that someone you know also has some type of mental disorder, and that person has the same fears and concerns. Unless you have a problem with substance abuse, mental illness is not your fault. You did not purposely choose to have difficulties in your daily living and relationships with those in your personal circle. The sources of mental illness are generally:
- Abnormalities in the brain
No one can be responsible for the traits received by the parents, the environment in which they were raised, or if their brain is not functioning according to the medical standards for mental health.
So, the first step is an attitude adjustment. In seeking treatment, you will receive the help needed for a better life and healthier relationships. But, you can also use your own experiences to educate others in the journey toward mental health.
If you suspect you might have a mental illness, seek treatment. Although many people see this step as a sign of weakness, the opposite is true. It takes a very strong person to admit he/she wants to achieve mental health. The most difficult step will be going to asking for help. The first step is always the most difficult. No. Diagnosis, treatment and medication may not be easy, but the journey will be worth the trouble, if you always keep the ultimate destination in mind.
You are not the Mental Illness
If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, the journey toward mental health starts with a statement of fact: You are not the mental disorder! For example, if you have OCD, you are not the disorder. You should never introduce yourself as “I am bi polar.” Instead, you have bi polar disorder. Although it may seem like a matter of semantics, the difference is like the chasm of the Grande Canyon.
You may have a mental challenge, but you are not the mental challenge. If you have asthma, people know you for more than the fact that you have a physical illness. Although society makes it more difficult at times, people need to understand that a mental illness is like a physical illness. When you get the right treatment for either, it results in better health.
Whether you have a chronic physical illness or mental illness, it is important to seek support. Obviously, it is not wise to tell everyone you meet that you are on a journey toward mental health. Not everyone will understand. So, you will have to be selective. Who do you tell that will understand your illness and be there to support you on the days it is difficult? Do you have a friend that is always there on the good and bad days?
Alternatively, a support group is an excellent source of both treatment and support. The people in the group have many of the same struggles that you face every day. No one will judge you, because they are in the same boat. Plus, it does not wear out those that you love.
A support group is monitored by a medical professional. You are not simply there to vent and walk away, although that is part of the process. The goal is to give each other the skills to cope with everyday life. So, change the way you think about mental illness, make that attitude adjustment, and get the treatment you need. The journey toward mental health may not be easy, but the effort is definitely worth the destination.