According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five of America adults have experienced a mental illness. So chances are either you are one of those people or someone you know is.
Yet, despite the frequency of mental illness in the United States; there is still a stigma that surrounds mental illness and the people who live with it. While there are some forms of mental illness that stand out and are hard to ignore such as schizophrenia and dementia; there are many mental illnesses that are harder to see and often remain undiagnosed; such as major depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, ADD, ADHD, etc.
If you are one of many people who live with mental illness there are some things I want you to know.
Mental Illness is a disease
We live in a society that disregards the effects of mental illness and ignores its impact. Mental illnesses are caused when our brain (one of the most complex organs in our body) fails to function properly. The same reason that all other diseases exist.
You are not weak
One of the most powerful and damaging notions of mental illness is the notion that people who live with mental illness are just weak. This is not true. People who live with a mental illness are some of the strongest people you will ever meet. They live with a disease that everyone ignores, nobody validates, and that makes simple everyday tasks extremely difficult. Yet despite all this, they get up every day and do the same routine as everyone else and don’t complain.
Don’t be ashamed to get help
There is help out there for those of us who live with mental illness we don’t have to try and ignore the symptoms. Getting help does not make you weak. Actually, the amount of strength and courage it takes to reach out is enormous. I know from experience that it can be really hard to accept help, but I also know that it is worth it.
For years I struggled with Major Depression and anxiety disorders and allowed it to shape my life. But those around me encouraged me to get help and eventually I did, and it changed my life.
Do it for yourself
Mental illness can impact our lives in many ways and can often keep us from meeting our fullest potential. We deserve better and can move past our illness and accomplish great things.
Do it for your loved ones
While living with mental illness can be taxing on the individual, it can also have a huge impact on your friends and family. Getting help can give them peace of mind and help them to know you are doing well and living life!
Don’t be ashamed
There is NOTHING to be ashamed of! You are a complex person and mental illness does not define you. It is part of who you are and has an impact on your beliefs, passions, and desires; but is not who you are.
Never be ashamed to share your experience and your journey. It will encourage others to seek help and feel free to be real about their experiences with mental illness and help erase the stigma that keeps so many people down.