“Don’t keep mental illness to yourself. There’s power in sharing.”
-Mental Health America
Anyone can look up the definition and symptoms of mental illness but a true understanding of a person’s struggle will not be found in any Google search. May is Mental Health Month and the theme of this month is what life feels like for individuals struggling with mental illness. I always tell clients that you can find two people with the same diagnosis and their experience and presentation of the illness will be completely different from one another. Depression, bipolar, addiction, OCD, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD - these are just some of the terms that we hear frequently in relation to mental illness. However, these terms are often tossed around without having a thorough understanding of what they actually mean. In order to break down misperceptions, Mental Health America (MHA) is encouraging sufferers to share what mental illness feels like for them. Individuals can share their stories on social media using the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike. MHA believes that this campaign will show others they are not alone in their feelings and help those who are struggling to articulate what they are going through.
Individuals struggling with mental illness are particularly vulnerable to addiction. Some will try to alleviate their depression or anxiety by turning to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or food. The short-term effects they receive, such as numbing emotional pain, perpetuate their usage. Not only is addiction a very serious mental health condition, it is possibly the most stigmatized. Addicts are often seen as weak and told to ”just stop”. They are called “junkie”, “meth head”, or “alky”. Addicts are often depicted as immoral, apathetic, lazy, or unemployed, using drugs in dark alleys. In reality, they are ordinary people – parents, professionals, friends, and humanitarians. These stereotypes regarding addiction and all mental illnesses can be stopped with your help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) aims to get rid of this very stigma through education and actively challenging social stereotypes. You can join NAMI’s cause and take the #stigmafree pledge today. You can also share information about mental illness using the hashtags #mentalhealthmonth and #mhm.
For an enlightening and fascinating experience, see what individuals are saying here. This platform provided by MHA gives us a glimpse of the beauty and diversity found among individuals who are struggling with mental illness.
For more information on addiction or mental health, call CAN today at 281-427-4226.
-Brina “BJ” Cash, MA, LPC-I, CART
~For Cease Addiction Now~