Mental Illness, Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, PTSD, the list goes on to the terms used to distinguish those who suffer with mental illness. Mental Illness is a word you tend to hear a lot about now more than ever as those who suffer are no longer hiding in the shadows but speaking up, seeking help and making the world aware.
There are National awareness days and months devoted to this very serious epidemic and it continues to get worse as suicide rates continues to climb, is there any hope you ask? I believe there is.
What it Means to Suffer
As someone who has suffered from Depression for much my young adult life, finally hiding the bricks in 2006 and from there it has gotten better due to certain choices I took to help alleviate my symptoms, but deep down they never go away, there are always there to certain degrees.
I can’t speak for others and their struggles but will say this we are different in our struggles and we all struggle for different reason some are just better at coping than others and having better perspectives on how to mentally view the situation.
Many require extra help like medication and therapy, some do not, but ultimately there it something that I feel we all need and that is compassion and understanding, something many people tend not to have.
I can not count the many times I opened up to someone, a perspective friend, co-worker, colleague about my struggles only be ghosted by them, ignored and shunned aside like I didn’t matter.
I get that many don’t know how to deal with those who have Mental Illness, but its not contagious, many times we are looking for someone to just listen, hear us out and be there. It makes so difficult when I expressed myself, my pain, my struggles only to be forgotten.
Get Over it Isn’t the Answer
There are those are also careless about what is told to someone struggling, such “Be Positive”, “Get over it” and “What is wrong with you”. All of these I have heard and been told in my lifetime.
All of these do not help, what helps is someone who will stick by us, be a friend and listen. I don’t expect you to solve my problems and I know you can’t, but certain factors affect our mental health such as instability.
I know that is what helped me, I need to have stability in my life such as a Job, going to gym regularly, eating right, having those in my life who support me and are positive and not negative.
I am not saying people need to walk on eggshells, I am saying treat us like anyone else but know we do need to special attention at times, something many don’t want to be apart of.
Going through some of my darkest times that’s all I wanted, and I also wanted companionship but that didn’t seem to come until later in my adult life. I think from my perspective I didn’t want to be alone, I wanted friends, a social life, some normalcy to my age and I didn’t have that.
Where It all Began
Part of the reason I believe I developed deep depression had a lot to do with my childhood and living with a verbally abusive grandparent, a father who has not in the picture everyday as my parents were divorced and a mother who tried her best to keep us afloat on her own with not a lot of help.
I believe the old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” and it does because although you give your kids love, attention and time not every child gets it and that has an affect , long terms affect like depression, anxiety, but I am just speaking from my experience. For those reading this you may say well I had a stable home life, but developed the symptoms early or late in my life.
If you truly wish to help those who suffer, here was some ways you could do that, but be patient.
1. Ask How You Can Help
Asking is a great start, we will tell you and sometimes, many times we will say Nothing is needed, take our word and don’t force the issue, we will tell you when we are ready, but asking is important.
2. Send a Thoughtful Text
If you know someone who is struggling or down, send them a nice text or message. Sending simple thoughts like you are thinking of them, you care about them. These messages brighten our day and take little or no effort.
3. Create a Care Package
A care package does wonders for those who suffer, because frankly not many will do it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, go to the dollar store and fill a bag with our favorite treats, we will love it and feel appreciated.
4. Bring Them a Meal
When those who are suffering or depressed, we tend to put ourselves last which means skipping meals. Bringing a meal to those who are down helps keep us strong, healthy and giving us energy to push to take care of ourselves.
5. Don’t Get Frustrated When we Cancel
When I go through depression being around people was the last thing I wanted and I was depressed a lot, I would constantly turn people down, eventually I would stop being invited out of frustration from the other person. Don’t take it personal, continue to try over time and don’t give up we need those who want to be in our life for the long haul.
6. Listen and Try Not to Analyze and Fix Everything
I know it’s easy to listen, but harder not to analyze and try to be the fixer. You will hear a lot of venting, complaining, crying, you name It we will mental illness will do it. Listening is so important, and we will ask you your thoughts and advice when we are ready. Don’t be quick to offer advice to something with mental illness. We just want you to understand how we are feeling and that helps us in our process.
7. Never Invalidate a Persons Feelings
We all have opinions and thoughts, and everyone has a right their feelings. Those feelings may not always be rational, they may sound downright crazy and unhinged, but just listen and never try to tell someone “To Get over it” or “Its really not that bad”.
8. Be There when We Need It
I know it sounds strange, like I am supposed to be there for you when ever you need it and the answer is Yes. It doesn’t mean we are going to need you every hour or day or week, but we will need you. When you are with someone, we want you to be physically and mentally there for us, don’t ignore us.
9. Leave me Alone Helps Us
We like to be alone, well at least I do. I got used to doing things alone and that is a time I think, reflect, process, so when we ask to be alone, we are trying to figure things out. If they are acting anxious it could be there is a school or work assignment they are trying to work on or a Job interview tomorrow. You should still care about them, and show concern, but give us some space and we will be more open to you and those around us.
Mental illness is a subject I encourage everyone to learn about even if you don’t personally know someone who struggles with it, because eventually you will cross someone who is dealing with it.
It never fully leaves a person, there are ways to maintain mental illness either by medication, therapy or both. We all deal with it in our own way or don’t deal with it which tends to make things worse. I speak from experience, my struggles I have good days and bad days like anyone else, but my bad days seems to be magnified.
Luckily not to the point of suicide but to the point that I will take things pretty hard and many of what was listed above will help me. Learn the signs of someone struggle with mental illness and suicidal behaviors.
Don’t be afraid of those who struggle, embrace up, be there and listen and for those who know people who struggle know you are an important part of our development and help us in ways you have no idea. I hope this enlightens you on Mental Illness.
If you or someone you know feels they just can’t cope and are contemplating self harm contact 911 or the number below: You are not alone and there are those who will help you in your time of crisis.