14 Aug

You Can Change the Perception of Mental Illness

Over 25 years ago, when there were little to no sources of support or guidance, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I write about what my life has been like living with a mental illness as well as the other health conditions I have faced over the years. I want to help remove the stigma associated with mental illness and any other illness that does not visibly manifest itself. It seems that little understanding or respect is available to people who suffer from illnesses that are not “seen”.  People should be able to speak freely about their illness and feel no shame.

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Today, there exists a myriad of support systems that are available to anyone in need. Your primary caregiver can offer suggestions to get you started. If only a fraction of these resources had been at my disposal years ago. The internet is a great source for helping you find the support that best suits your needs. The important thing to remember is, no one need suffer alone.

Writing about my experiences and sharing some of what I have learned over the years has become a method of maintaining ownership of my illness. Throughout my life, it became habitual to attempt an existence where I no longer suffered from depression and anxiety. If I didn’t “feel” any of the symptoms I felt before, I must be fine. It was so easy to fill my head with these misconceptions because I didn’t want to have depression. There was a very serious problem with this way of thinking. I had never learned the skills or strategies needed to help maintain a healthy mental state. This unawareness left me vulnerable to the same old scripts and same old ways of thinking that would drag me into a depressive state.

During the last couple years, I have been presented with life changing events that affected my mental state. The help I desperately needed for so long became available to me. I haven’t looked back since. I continue to grow within my situation and learn more and more ways to live within the parameters. Here is a small list of some of the lessons I’ve learned, the hard way.

  • Depression is not your fault. You can not simply suck it up and get on with your day.
  • Depression will not go away on its own. You need to find ways to dig out from under it.
  • Medication can help. Talk with your physician and research what is available. Find a medication that has side effects that you can manage and can relieve the symptoms that affect your life the greatest. There are some very good antidepressants on the market.
  • Do not stop taking antidepressants without your doctor knowing. Accept that antidepressants are not cures but sources of symptomatic relief that you may need for the rest of your life.
  • Read as much as you can about your illness. Learn the skills and strategies that can help you live with it, not fight against it. Knowledge is power and goes a long way towards lessening future instances of depression and anxiety.
  • Seek professional help. Talk to a psychiatrist and get a proper diagnosis. Depression can be caused by other underlying illnesses being left untreated.

 

3 thoughts on “You Can Change the Perception of Mental Illness

  1. What a wonderful thing Sharlene! I’ve never blogged, but, I’ve always believed that sharing ones story is a great way to make others find a little insight about this terrible illness! Most of all I believe it’s a way to help yourself open up and begin to heal! Thank you for starting your blog. Keep it up and keep well! ❤

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