Home Mental Health Why It’s Okay To Say You Have A Mental Illness

Why It’s Okay To Say You Have A Mental Illness

by Jodi Shaw

Heath Ledger, Robin Williams, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Scott Stapp, Rosanne Barr, Drew Carey, Brooke Shields and the list goes on and on with Hollywood actors, comedians, musicians, and athletes all speaking out about how they cope or deal with their mental illness.

Some turned to drinking and drugs. Some sought out a bipolar therapist nearby to help them cope. Others use the mantra of relaxation or hyno-therapy. Some take medications. But they all suffer — individually — and have to cope with whatever ails them in their own way, just as we all do.

  • Anxiety Disorder.
  • Bipolar Disorder.
  • Eating Disorder.
  • Panic Attacks.
  • Suicide Attempts.
  • Depression.

It’s okay to say you have a mental illness. Why? Because you aren’t alone. It may feel like you are sitting on a ledge, dangling your legs, contemplating why on God’s green earth you feel the way you do, and that nobody cares or is listening, but that just isn’t true.

You are not alone.

I grew up with bipolar disorder. I didn’t know I had it, not until I was diagnosed in my early twenties. Back then my parents thought I was just an emotional child. One that had outbursts. Unable to control my emotions. Constantly seeking attention. Wanting to end my life. Wanting to be heard. Wishing desperately I could change who I was and stop feeling the dreaded sorrow, grief, sadness and utter despair that comes along with having a mental illness that at the time was not a topic of conversation people spoke out about.

But times have changed. Yes, there is still a stigma attached to having a mental illness, and I think society wants to turn a blind eye to what is going on in our communities that require more supportive measures from our government to give people the help they need, instead of just throwing them to the wayside and forgetting about them.

No matter what mental illness you are dealing with, you can cope with it. There are ways that do not just include taking medications, although if a medication works for you as it does for myself, then so be it. Forget what everyone else says. You know your own body and mind, and what you need in order to survive.

Understanding your mental illness, such as bipolar disorder and learning the signs and symptoms and how to deal with it is the very first step you need to take in order to treat the problem. I say problem because that is what mental illness becomes when treatment is unsuccessful or uneventful for individuals suffering.

But How Can I Cope?

Talk about it. Plain and simple. Put away the shame. Put away the fears. Put away the doubt, and start speaking out about it. Embrace it as part of yourself. When you do that you will discover freedom unlike any other, and only then will you be able to tackle the road to recovery and learn how to balance your life effectively for you and you alone.

My son has bipolar disorder. He’s eleven. He handles it way better than I ever did growing up. I think because I’ve taught him how to embrace his mental illness and disabilities as a part of who he is – without allowing it to define him. Kids that suffer from mental illness have a rougher road than we adults because they face society’s persecution on a more emotionally affecting level. Their peers are important to them. To adults, we can simply remove “toxic” people from our lives, but kids rely on their friendships as a way to help mold and discover who they are.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Having A Mental Illness

Okay, FYI this is just my own POV for the sake of helping. But there are some guidelines you can follow when suffering from a mental illness and they are pretty simple and straightforward.

  • Do talk to someone about how you feel
  • Do keep a journal of your daily emotions and what you are going through
  • Do consult with a physician about your feelings, mood changes, appetite changes, depression and other health-related issues that can affect you.
  • Do seek counseling, either one on one, or group therapy from within your local community or hospital if need be. Remember “strength in numbers” you aren’t the only one feeling the way you do.
  • Don’t harm yourself or others because you are venting, freaking out, and use your mental illness as a crutch in life. It’s okay to be down and sad. It’s not okay to be a bully.
  • Don’t lie to yourself or others about what you are dealing with. It won’t help your situation and will only put added pressure on you
  • Don’t forget it’s okay to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else.

No matter what you are dealing with, what type of mental illness or even disability you are coping to struggle to understand. You are you. Be true to yourself. Find your own acceptance, and once again, I know you are getting tired of hearing it, but you aren’t alone.

Do you have a mental illness? Share with us your story below to help others.

P.S. How weather can affect anxiety and depression and You can’t hide from anxiety and depression

(Photos by @krisroller and Unsplash)

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