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20 Things Only People Who Live With Mental Illness Can Understand

20 Things Only People Who Live With Mental Illness Can Understand

If you live with a mental illness, you really have a tough battle on your hands. The stigma attached to this illness can result in isolation, discrimination, and hostility. The fact that mental illnesses are all grouped together in one lump does not help either. The conditions in this category can range from depression, psychosis, personality disorders, PTSD, ADHD to more serious cases where suicidal and homicidal tendencies can lead to violence and death.

Here are 20 things you will have no trouble in relating to if you experience a mental illness as they are probably a daily experience.

1. You are shunned

If your moods are on a rollercoaster due to having bipolar disorder, your social contacts may tend to avoid you. You wonder why their mood swings are rarely noted or talked about.

2. You get no sympathy

Anyone who has a serious medical condition like cancer gets a lot of attention. Because you are severely depressed, sometimes it can feel like nobody wants to know and you get no sympathy at all. In fact, it is rare that anyone will ever ask about your depression but they will know everything about cancer treatment and rates of recovery.

3. You have to keep your condition a secret

Why not let everyone know what you have suffered? You must be joking! Who wants to have that label hanging around their neck when discrimination and misunderstanding about this illness are widespread?

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4. You have very little chance of getting a job

Job discrimination against the mentally ill is rife. We know that only 18% of those with mental health issues are in full time employment. You know of cases where people have to sign a contract agreeing to be sacked if you are of “unsound mind”, according to the Mental Health Act in the UK. You know you may not always fit the image of the ideal employee but adjustments should be made by employers.

5. You get no special treatment

People who get physically ill or are absent from work are all well looked after. There are no special cases for mentally ill people who are not supposed to have any relapses at all.

6. You are regarded as weird

You know all the stereotypes about mentally ill people which are widely transmitted by the press and on TV. You are tired of being called crazy and wish for more understanding.

7. You are tired of all the ignorance

Nobody bothers to learn more about what being mentally ill really means. Yet, one in four people suffer from these problems but nobody wants to know.

8. You are fed up with people’s embarrassment

In one UK survey, about 30% of the respondents stated that they felt embarrassed by mentally ill people. Over 80% stated that they were sure that the majority of people in general felt ill at ease in their presence. The only good news is that the Time to Change organisation in the UK has noted a 6% improvement in attitudes and prejudices about mental illness in the period 2011-2014.

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9. You cannot get proper health insurance

Most insurance policies do not cover mental illness as it is far too common and the companies would collapse. You know of one man who had clinical depression and was left to pay off debts of $10,000 because his policy did not cover depression.

10. You hate people whispering

Everyone lowers their voices when talking about addiction and suicide. You hear them all the time at the supermarket but they talk loudly about someone who has had cancer. What is so risky about (PTSD) post traumatic stress disorder? Is it contagious?

11. You are exploited by sales persons

They have no hesitation in going for the kill even though they know that you may have some issues about understanding what a contract really involves. They have no compunction in getting you to sign. No wonder so many mentally ill people are homeless, in debt or in prison.

12. You are let down by medical staff

Many doctors are unsympathetic and you are not in the least surprised that 60% of mentally ill patients are not getting any treatment at all.

13. You wonder when health authorities will wake up

Why are medical and paramedical staff not trained properly to deal with us? Why are we always treated so unfairly? It is no surprise that the Disability Discrimination Act (UK) does not cover mental illness.

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14. You wonder about getting proper treatment

As you struggle with reduced capacity to get through the ordinary daily routine, you wonder why your medical condition is often treated with disdain and shoulder shrugging. You begin to wonder why more research has not been done to make treatment more effective.

15. You have problems with self-esteem

It is a downward spiral because unemployment can lead to homelessness. Experts believe that jobs and medication are the keys to helping people with these issues. Mental illness should not go hand in hand with low self esteem.

16. You need more post treatment support

Supportive housing with adequate provision for proper medical care is the way to go. One study showed that when people were in these units there was a 58% fall in the number of emergency room visits. I know of several patients with schizophrenia who are benefiting from this type of support.

17. You are not getting equal human rights

In the USA, mentally ill persons are 10 times more likely to end up in prison instead of in a psychiatric ward. Many advocates for better mental health care regard this as a violation of human rights and that prisons are nothing more than concentration camps for the mentally ill.

18. You resent the class and racial stereotypes

You know that mental illness is not a class or race issue. It is the great leveller, like death.

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“Mental illness is an equal opportunity illness — it strikes across all barriers of race and class. Yet the public perception is still the disheveled person on the street.”- Michael Allen, Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C.

19. You are not just a problem

Whatever your condition, you are a real person with needs, desires, hopes and emotions just like any other human being on the planet. Just because one part of your mind is malfunctioning you should not be condemned to live on the margins of society.

20. You hope you will get more social support

We know that when mentally ill prisoners are released, 50% of them will re-enter prisons within a three year period. Rehabilitation programs and strong social support are needed to lower this alarming figure.

Let us hope that people’s attitudes and government initiatives will help to make mentally ill patients’ lives better.

“Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When “I” is replaced by “We”, illness becomes wellness.” – Shannon L. Adler

Featured photo credit: Marina del Castell/Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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