Fact vs. Fiction

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There is a lot of stigma in the world against /surrounding mental illness, or those with mental health conditions. It’s difficult enough to hear diagnoses and have to address them, without having bad things just presumed by you or about you.  This page looks at dispelling some Mental Health myths and old wives tales (no offense to any old wives out there…).

Topics & “Myths”

1.  Health and Wellness:

Mental Health and Physical Health are part of the same thing. Part of each one of us. If you are physically unwell, not sleeping, not eating, etc., this can be symptomatic of something more than a physical problem. And continual loss of sleep and lack or appetite (amongst many other signs), can lead to worsening of any mental or physical health condition.  If you have a broken leg, you sort of have no option but to seek help and get it fixed. If you need a heart valve, you get surgery. If you have a mental illness, you don’t just do nothing. That helps no one and fixes nothing. You take responsibility. Every type of treatment is considered a therapy, so don’t think you’ll just be lying on a psychiatrist’s sofa somewhere. It is a combination of therapies, education, wellness habits and supports that truly help us recover. It is our responsibility to seek those out and find what works for us. The first step is always to see your primary physician to rule out or deal with any physical causes, and then psychiatry/psychology referral, should mental health pieces be suspected. More on therapy types, rights and responsibilities coming soon…

2. “I’ll never be the same again.”

I didn’t just start having mental health issues when I received my diagnoses. I was 46 years old at the time. I had apparently been unwell, although very high functioning, for many years. I held a job, owned a home, had a family. But, and I can be honest about it now, I knew I wasn’t “ok”, and that it had been that way for awhile. My point here, is that you will NOT ever be the same again. Diagnoses allows us a direction to work in, rather than just floundering through life. If we know what we are dealing with, we can learn how to do so. In essence, we end up much better than we were before. Cuz, who would want to go back to being so unwell anyway, right?  More on early considerations around diagnoses coming soon…

3.  “No one else I know has a mental illness.”

Logistically, that’s pretty much impossible. It is a fact that 20-25% of any given population, no matter gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, profession, political persuasion, financial health, poverty level, socioeconomic factor, etc., the percentage remains the same globally. Mental health conditions, are, for the most part, livable, survivable, and yes, even thrivable, providing we educate ourselves and consistently take responsibility for our wellness.  More on education, rights and responsibilities coming soon…

4. “Really successful people don’t have mental health issues.”

Let me just throw a few names at you. Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Carrie Fisher, Robin Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Abraham Lincoln, Harrison Ford, Michael Phelps, Macy Gray, Howie Mandel, Buzz Aldrin, Whoopi Goldberg, Cary Grant, Charles Darwin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Dickens, Ben Stiller; the list goes on and on.  All lived through, lived with, survived and thrived, despite mental health issues in their lives. More on this coming soon…

5. “I will have to be medicated like a zombie for the rest of my life…”

The truth is, medication IS one part of the possible recovery equation. We will have a separate page just about medication issues, but obviously, all medication questions should be referred to your health care professional. The truth is, there are different classes of drugs, all of which are highly effective, in the right people. The difficulty is in determining what, if any medications will help you as an individual. Everyone reacts to medication differently. I have been on a medication regimen for multiple years now. I am not a zombie, I am a fully functioning, conscious, thinking individual, without any apparent zombie like tendencies. The other truth is, some folks find the side effects difficult to deal with and want to live without meds. (The only side effects I’ve experienced are weight gain – it’s a trade off. But I’m working on that…) The fact is, if you decide that you ultimately cannot be helped by medication, it is still your responsibility to find the therapies that allow you to live well despite your condition. That is possible. But we are responsible for our actions or inactions.  More on this coming soon…

6. Some people just don’t believe in mental illness.

This is, unfortunately, true. I have been told over the course of time, by assorted well meaning individuals, that I would be well if I just give it all to God, that I should not medicate, that its all a scam, that I would feel better if I just lost weight (or whatever the suggestion of the moment was…). Some religions do not allow for mental illness to exist. Some people just are in denial, or have bought in to all the stigma attached to mental illness over decades, and therefore are unable to face that a friend or family member has such a condition.  It is still our responsibility to work toward wellness and find the course that works for us as an individual. No one else’s approval is needed.  More on stigma and stereotyping coming soon…

We will add more on myths and untruths, and hope to clarify with researched truths. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Life is all about change. Its a journey from one change through another, throughout our existence. So learn how to take care of yourself, and if you haven’t already, learn to adapt, adapt, adapt.

One more very useful quote to close this particular page for the moment, from Winston Churchill; “Never, never, never give up.”

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