What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020, ending with World Mental Health Day, runs from October 5-10th.

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020, ending with World Mental Health Day, runs from October 5-10th. It is an annual event to help open our eyes to the realities of mental illness with the goal of ending the associated stigma. We covered Mental Illness 101 during last year’s edition of Mental Illness Awareness Week, including What is Mental IllnessCommon Mental Illnesses, and Treatments.

We often hear from those with mental illness: “I wish the public was more informed.” To prepare yourself to read further, recall a time when you were categorized as an outsider and how it made you feel. Here’s an important list of considerations we want you to know about mental illness:

  • Mental illness is different for everyone. People can have the same disorder but be affected differently, react differently, and cope differently. Not everyone with depression spends their days in bed in a dark room. Don’t assume you understand what someone is going through because you know someone else with a similar illness.
  • Mental illness doesn’t happen in isolation. Mental illness is the interplay of many different factors, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Triggers such as trauma or drug use can cause it to develop when it otherwise may not have.
  • It’s an illness - you can’t just get over it. Mental illness is as real as a broken bone. It can be managed and improved through medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, but you can’t just get over it. Mental illness is not a choice, a character flaw, or an excuse used to stay in bed all day. Just because you cannot see or relate to someone’s mental illness doesn’t mean it’s not real.
  • You have good days and bad days. Many people do not understand how much your thinking and emotions change with mental illness. It is complicated and often cyclical. When you are experiencing depression or panic, it is hard to remember what “better” feels like. These emotions may feel suffocating, overwhelming, and inescapable. You don’t have to look sad or distressed to be feeling the effects.
  • Mental illness doesn’t have a type. It takes on the face of the smiling barista, the stay-at-home mom, and the high-powered CEO. Mental illness knows no limits when it comes to gender, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or occupation.
  • My mental illness doesn’t define me. Mental illness is a part of who somebody is, but it is not the sole trait they possess. We are all more than the sum of our parts. Often people feel that a mental illness defines an individual, but that is not the case because it’s one of many characteristics that make us unique. Mental illness is only one piece of the puzzle.
  • We don’t want to be treated differently. If a friend opens up to you about their mental illness, they’re saying they feel comfortable with you. That person has likely been dealing with their illness for a long time, so this is their normal. They just want to be understood and respected as an equal person.

If you inform yourself, ask questions and really try to understand, you have the ability to make an incredible difference in someone’s life. If you or a loved one are suffering from symptoms that are causing significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, please talk to your doctor or seek mental health advice from a professional.

If you or a family member could use support, Inkblot can help. It’s easy to make an appointment with a counsellor tailored to your individual needs. Sessions are available as soon as today. 

Visitinkblottherapy.com to get started.