Why It’s so hard to just be “sick” with Mental Illness

“Sorry, I can’t go out today, I’m having a depressive episode”

 

When you are infected with the flu or cold the best remedy is to rest, take care of yourself and allow yourself to recover. Usually, people will see you, detect that you are ill, suggest you take it easy and treat your symptoms. It easy to avoid normal responsibilities simply by saying “I’m really sorry I just can’t make it, got very bad cold or flu”or “sorry I’m feeling a bit under the weather” and usually people get the gist, sympathise and wish you a quick recovery. Having the flu or cold is uncomfortable, sometimes even painful but the plus side is that you feel as if you have every right to display how sick you are with  very little need to explain yourself.  Most importantly you can be sick and acknowledge to yourself that this is a process that is natural and something that you will overcome, with everybody else providing validation for that, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for mental illness.

 

“Come on, stop overthinking it everything will be fine just push yourself”

With mental illnesses such as Depression and Anxiety, you can often feel as if you can’t just be sick, feel unwell and rest. Most often this because there is a misconception that you can just overcome the symptoms of mental illness through willpower or motivation. perhaps you are struggling with a bad anxiety and know you will not be able to handle this group meeting, you might call your friend and let them know how you are feeling and they might respond “just stop overthinking it”. These people are responding to you in a way that is rational for people who do not suffer from mental illness, they can’t empathy because they don’t understand that although the situation is one that they can easily get themselves through with a little bit of motivation and positive thinking, those who suffer from mental are experiencing psychological barriers that keep them locked and restrained to the point that their physical body display symptoms that in turn affects our ability to participate in normal activities around us. Most of the time they have the best intentions but often it just makes you feel more incompetent for some reason you are unable to do seemingly effortlessly.

 

“Well when you’re feeling bad at least you know you can go to the” …..

Sometimes I wish there was a well-established place of refuge when people are feeling mentally unwell. I know the rational response to this statement would be psychiatric wards or A&E but in my opinion neither of these places really provides a nurturing and caring environment to receive support in times of psychological vulnerability. For that reason, mental illness can feel very isolating as if there is no way out. We have progressed as a society in reducing stigma towards mental health issues but we still have a long way to go, one day it will be okay to confide in someone at work and say I’m not feeling okay and struggling with my mental health and I need support, to look at one of your family members and friends and not feel ashamed to admit the need support during this time. There will not be the same level of discomfort when mental illness is brought up because we are all human with minds and therefore can develop mental illness. We do ourselves a disservice to make ourselves suffer in the name of pride

 

 

“You choose how you think, you need to change your mindset”

I often find that sometimes mental illness is not viewed as an illness whatsoever, but rather a dysfunction in your ways of thinking, an error, something that needs to be actively it changed, targeted, manipulated and fixed solely through the effort of the individual. Now I’m not saying that certain mental illnesses cannot be greatly improved through self-help methods however I think it’s important to state that although the condition manifests within the mind this does not mean it is the individuals choice or mindset. Mental illness might reflect itself in behavioural changes but that does not mean the individual chooses those actions. If you’re joint became inflamed, the reaction would not be to say that your joint was overreacting, you might suggest that it could be some type of nerve or muscle inflammation. You wouldn’t say that your body is being dramatic because reacting to something that is happening internally or within structures you can’t see. The resources available people with mental health issues include counselling, therapy CBT, psychotherapy, mindfulness, in the hopes to proactively remedy their symptoms and control their illness just as somebody with a broken leg would benefit from physiotherapy.

 

“This is my fault, why can’t I just get over it”

The issue with the lack of support for mental illness is the fact that mental illness and physical illness differentiate only by how they present themselves. Either way when you neglect any one of them things will only get worse and begin to deteriorate.  Not only this but mental illness often coexists with physical illness. People with anxiety often report chronic pain issues, people with depression, commonly report fatigue. Most importantly, people with mental health issues often don’t get the immediate social support or understanding that allows feelings of acceptance about not being okay. In turn, sometimes mental illness can make you your worst critic, you don’t feel justified in how you are experiencing mental health issues, the symptoms often just viewed as a sign of weakness, an annoying defect in your everyday.

 

“Your taking antidepressants, why aren’t they working?

 

A misconception is that antidepressants are quick fix, pop the happy pill and is all fine. Reality check, antidepressants are not magic pills, they do not make the condition go away, or even numb the symptoms enough to feel completely free, they are a coping mechanism a tool to aid recovery, stabilise and help to facilitate healthy activity in the brain, not a fix it drug, just like painkillers don’t cure chronic pain, they help to facilitate recovery. There are many similarities between physical and mental illnesses, both can impact your friendships, relationships, and they can interfere with your ability to exist in society as someone who partakes in social life. It wears many masks, masquerading as unsociable, flaky, cold, less affectionate, angry, unreliable, claimed the, distant, dependent. There isn’t one drug out there that if this that can fix that in either case.

These are just a few examples, this article is not meant to sound whiny but is just to provide some insight into some of the problems people might encounter with mental health issues.

 

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