Is it OK to NOT Believe in Mental Illnesses?

When I started this blog I intended to talk and focus on my struggles in life and hope that I could reach those who experience(d) similar things. My blog has definitely drifted away from that as my goal because depression, anxiety, self-harm, PTSD – mental health as a whole, aren’t “sexy” topics and are extremely difficult topics to discuss. I still feel like it is incredibly important for me to share my stories so that others know that they aren’t alone, but it may not be as frequently as I had hoped.

Anyway, let’s talk about the stereotypes & opinions on mental illnesses. Let me begin by saying, it is OK to not believe in mental illnesses. But it is NOT ok to denounce someone else’s reality.

Let’s imagine I’m having a conversation one on one with you because I feel comfortable enough with you to reveal such a sensitive part of my life… If I tell you that I have depression you are more than welcome to ask me about it and why I have it. By no fucking means am I inviting you to talk down to me, roll your eyes, attack me, criticize me, call me crazy, so on and so forth…

As someone with mental illnesses I am aware that I have to respect others opinions because not everyone believes in these conditions, the use of medication, therapy, etc. It blows my mind that people don’t believe in it when there is concrete evidence supporting mental illnesses as treatable conditions, but I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinions regardless if we don’t share the same beliefs.

Oh also, I can’t believe that I even have to mention this, but respect is so fucking important when it comes to being a decent human being. If you don’t believe in mental illness don’t go and say to me “you’re just sad” “you’re overreacting” “you’re faking it” “you’re crazy”. Because heads up, if you say those things.. you’re just an asshole 🙂 I am not going to make you uncomfortable and push my beliefs on you out of respect and I expect the same.

I just want to reiterate that you aren’t a bad person if you don’t believe in mental illness. I would say that 60-70% of the people currently in my life do not believe in mental illness, medication, therapy. Some of those people have made my life actual hell by how they treat me. I have had family members call me “sick” and “dramatic” because of my mental illnesses. Even after I attempted suicide in 10th grade they said that I was “sad”. After I attempted suicide my doctors told the people who I was living with that they must lock up any weapons, medications, etc because after a person attempts suicide the feelings don’t just go away. The house that I was living in doesn’t believe in mental illness so they continued to leave medications out, weapons out, etc because I was an “inconvenience”. I continued to have thoughts of suicide and I asked one of the people in my house to take me to the hospital because I felt unsafe – this individual moaned and groaned and complained that it was too late at night.

On the other hand, my dad (who adopted me last year – that’s a different story) also doesn’t believe in mental illness and the use of medications but has been nothing but supportive and loving when it comes to my mental health… he is the prime example of not believe in mental illness but still being a good fucking person. I have called him at all hours of the day and night to cry, scream, vent, and just have him on the phone even if I can’t talk because I am so worked up and just need to know that someone is there and cares.

I want to talk about high school for a second, I stray away from talking about those 4 years because they are messy, but I really struggled to make friends and keep quality friends because no one understood mental illness at that age. I have never felt so isolated in my entire life. I was constantly left out of things, excluded from groups, etc because no one wants to be friends with the girl who has depression. Looking back, I am sure that it was no ones direct intention to exclude me because I had a mental illness but it still happened because I was seen as “different”. During high school, I found that a lot of people weren’t yet going through what I was and it confused me when friends would say that I was just “sad” or that they didn’t know how to “handle” me. Not until senior year of high school did I find that others also had struggles.

I used to keep my mental illnesses a secret for the longest time but doing that helps no one. I have become much more open and accepting of mental illness, I am able to truly appreciate life this way because I don’t feel like I am hiding anything. When you are open about something so sensitive in your life you learn who your true friends and family are.

I have depression which specifically for me it means that I can go through periods and feel really good – some would say “normal” but we all know that the word normal is subjective. I can also go through periods where I feel constant sadness, my mood changes and I am unable to comprehend that I have a bright future ahead of me, I get that feeling of “whats the point”. To help control and treat this I take antidepressants. It took me a very long time to find the right medication and the right dosage – this period of my life was so stressful and painful because all I wanted to do was give up and accept that I was “broken” because I came in contact with medications that gave me awful side effects that seemed to be doing more harm than good. Just trust your doctor because they will find the appropriate dosage and medication for you.

I also have anxiety which for me shows in a variety of ways. Sometimes I won’t be able to do something because I have a terrible feeling or anxiousness about it. I have had to miss out on a lot of fun things because I couldn’t get myself to go (To my future employers, no my mental illness will not impact my ability to work 🙂 ) I have been unable to sleep at times because my mind won’t stop racing. Sometime’s I will just get anxiety about having anxiety.

I have PTSD which I have overwhelmingly gotten push back on from relatives because I am not a veteran. People neglect to recognize that anyone can suffer from PTSD. This condition may be the hardest to cope with because there are typically no warning signs when it will occur. Sometimes a certain smell, a certain sound, a song, food, thought, etc can trigger it and my body goes into flight or fight because I feel like I am in danger because my body became so accustomed to having to protect itself. I feel like I am dying when I am going through a flashback or PTSD episode. It can be extremely difficult to remind yourself that you are OK and you aren’t in danger.

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I also get very bad panic attacks which are more or less due to PTSD. Nothing is worse than going through a panic attack alone so I really rely heavily on my dad, best friend, or boyfriend to just be there for me. A lot of the time they don’t even need to say anything, I just need them to be present either in person or on the phone. I have gotten panic attacks in public and in private. Sometimes I can’t breathe, I’ll cry, I’ll shake, I’ve thrown up, and sometimes I will talk a mile a minute. Therapy has helped me so much to create effective coping mechanisms to bring me back down. One thing that I like to do is if I am with someone close to me they will ask me to look around and name 10 triangles (squares, rectangles, something blue, red, etc) and after that, I will name 8 more things that are different than the first set. This has been so helpful because it makes me focus on the present and what is around me. This also works if I am experiencing a panic attack alone.

The reason for making this post is not to try and force you to believe in mental illnesses, I don’t believe that you can change someone’s beliefs that are already set in stone. I hope though if you don’t believe in mental illness that you are at least more aware of the fact that you shouldn’t denounce someone else’s reality just because of your beliefs – it’s all about respect and being a decent person. I am not weird, different, or broken because of my mental illnesses. I should not be defined by them and neither should you!

Statistics from NIMH: 

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobias.
  • Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14­–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.

Statistics from WHO: 

  • 28 countries report having a national strategy for suicide prevention.
  • One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.

Statistics from ADAA:

  • GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.
  • PD affects 6 million adults or 2.7% of the U.S. population.
  • SAD affects 15 million adults or 6.8% of the U.S. population.

Important Resources: 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours every day. Their Twitter

Talkspace Online Therapy: Check out the app store!

Also, please consider checking out MakeItUltra’s blog. His blog posts have been incredibly impactful on my life!

 

Thank you for KUWK (Keeping up with Kayl)

Connect with me on Instagram!

“A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support” -Kate Middleton

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