Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Opening up about mental illness!

In recent years, in an attempt to overcome my anxiety and depression, I have started to not only acknowledge my own problems but also open up to other people as well.
They say the first step towards overcoming your issue, is to acknowledge or admit you have a problem. Being honest about what you are going through is the first step toward recovery.
In recent months, when I tried to be honest about my condition, a person hit me with this question, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Now this person wasn’t asking what caused me to become depressed, no, their question was stated out of disbelief. They weren’t taking me seriously and they reacted as though I was only trying to get attention, as though my problem wasn’t even real.
On another occasion I was trying to explain to this person the reality behind eating disorders. We were watching a 60 minutes segment about anorexia, and this person just refused to believe that someone who was as skinny as the girl on the segment could honestly believe they were fat. This person couldn’t get their head around the fact that the problem wasn’t what the girl actually saw in the mirror, but about what she believed in her mind. No matter how much I tried to explain, I just couldn’t get through to the person about the real problem at hand. In the end, all that the person could accept was that some people have different perceptions of what it is to be fat. This was not an improvement.
Mental illnesses may not be physical problems, but that doesn’t mean they are not real. (Eating disorders have physical symptoms but the root of the problem is not a physical one).
If you have a mental illness don’t be afraid to be honest about your problem – tell people you can trust and who will make an effort to understand what you are going through.  Denying the problem will only make it worse – trust me, I’ve spent the best part of my life trying to ignore what was going on, and I only managed to heal once I began to open up about it. Opening up is also the first step towards being able to establish positive relationships in your life – something I am hopefully on the verge of being able to do.
If someone you know has a mental illness, don’t judge them or turn them away when they reveal to you what they are going through. Listen to them! You don’t have to have all the answers, but the very least you can do is let them get things off of their chest. The more people this person can successfully open up to, the sooner they will be able to recover.

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