Today I want to talk about mental health awareness.
Mental health disorders affect many people, causing disruptions to normal life that can range anywhere from slightly annoying, to completely debilitating. If you do not suffer from any type of mental health issues, then someone you know probably does.
How mental illness affects our life
I never understood the severity of mental health disorders until my husband was recently diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.
His struggles with mental health in the past two years, brought to light that some of my own issues were not simply part of my personality, but that I have been suffering from anxiety and depression since I was in elementary school. I believe the reason my parents started homeschooling me had something to do with my anxiety over the math assignments they handed out in 4th grade. I was a very negative person for years and very emotional all the time.
I am now taking medication for these issues, and it seems to have them under control for the most part.
My own mental health is quite stable in comparison with what my husband has been struggling with for much of his life. Now that he has been diagnosed as bipolar so many things are suddenly making sense.
It is so hard to watch him struggle every day with his mood swings from irritable mania to very depressed, from wide awake to fast asleep. He can no longer work, or go to the store or to restaurants. His medication’s side effects make driving dangerous, so he rarely gets behind the wheel of his car. He has been through three or four providers(doctors and physician assistants) in the past 2-3 years, who have put him through an array of medication changes. I believe at the most he was on about 9 different medications and about 15 pills per day. He no longer enjoys TV or movies. He struggles to sleep at night, due to increased anxiety at nighttime, then he crashes during the day. He needs to have someone with him while he is awake because of his thoughts of harming himself, his mom stays over a lot to stay awake with him, so I can sleep and go to work the next day. I try to stay awake with him on the weekends so that she can get some rest. This is truly a vicious cycle.
Throughout it all he has done everything his doctors have asked him to do, and taken his medications like he is supposed to. He wants help, he wants to feel better. Sometimes the only thing keeping him from giving up is the support he gets from me and his mom and other family and friends.
How you can help someone you know with a mentall illness
If you know one of your loved ones or friends is struggling with mental illness, be there for them. Not just superficially, but truly deep down there for them. Remember not to judge them for what they may be feeling as it is a side effect of illness. They cannot simply be positive, or get over it, so please choose your words carefully when providing advice or encouragement. In many cases mental illness is caused by chemicals being off balance in the brain. Any negative actions, words or emotions are most likely a result of their illness. Love the person and realize the illness may cause them to do and say things you may not like. Learn more about their particular disorder to gain understanding. Pay attention to what makes them worse or makes them feel better. Encourage them to see a counselor or a doctor if they are not already doing so. Be a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on. Know when to give them space also when needed. These are all things I have learned being married to someone with mental illness. I hope it helps.
If you are struggling with mental illness please get help
Reach out to your friends or family for help, or call a help line. Now there are even online counsellors. There are so many ways to get help. I am sure that someone will help you, you only have to ask for it. Maybe your employer has a assistance program. Mine does and they paid for a few counselling sessions for me. Please do not suffer in silence. You do not have to be alone in this.
One more thing…
This is more of a common courtesy thing, but you just dont know what someone else is going through.
Please be kind to others. A smile, a wave, holding a door open… a kind word. It could save a life. You may restore someone’s faith in humanity by a kind act. It is that simple.
Everyone has a bad day now and then. Ive had my share. But you control how you treat others, treat them with kindness.
Be a light in someones darkness, be someones sunshine on a cloudy day.