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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

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Robert Locke

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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