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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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