Does anyone in your life suffer from mental illness? Have you struggled to understand or come to terms with it?
Mental illness is widely misunderstood. There are many variations of mental illness, yet it’s easy to generalize and come to unreasonable conclusions.
There are a number of myths surrounding the topic of mental illness. However, there are four common ones which really ought to be banished.
Mental Illness Myths and the Truth
1. Mental illnesses are 100% hereditary. It’s untrue that mental illnesses are 100% hereditary. Certainly, mental illness can be passed down from a parent to a child. However, there are many cases where someone with no family history of mental illness develops a condition.
• Mental illness is often caused by psychological trauma. This happens when an intense negative experience has a deep emotional impact on someone.
• Biological factors can also cause mental illness. Sometimes, an individual is born with a chemical imbalance. This can cause the brain to function abnormally.
2. Mental illnesses are caused by drug use. Although there are many damaging effects of substance abuse, there are very few cases where drug use causes mental illness. Instead, it’s likely that underlying mental issues push those individuals into using drugs.
• For example, depression is a common mental illness. Those that are depressed often become substance abusers and their symptoms worsen.
• Regarding legal drugs, there may be some that have mind-altering effects. In most instances, the effects are temporary. However, there have been incidents of permanent impact after prolonged use of prescription drugs.
3. Mental illness sufferers have weak will. It’s important to realize that having a mental illness doesn’t reflect your will or character. In fact, it takes tremendous will to keep a mental illness from taking over your life.
• In many cases, sufferers are helpless when it comes to their condition. Mental illnesses don’t discriminate. They can affect anybody.
• Dealing with a mental illness takes a great deal of courage, especially if you’re facing a lifelong condition. Knowing that you have to deal with it for the rest of your life can be overwhelming.
• In many cases, you may find people who refuse to believe they are ill. And while this strength is admirable, it could also be dangerous if they aren’t seeking treatment.
4. Mental illnesses prevent a “normal” life. The great news is that “normalcy” doesn’t have to be affected if you have a mental illness. With therapy and medication, it’s likely that mental illness sufferers can live a normal life.
• Having a great support team ensures you keep on track with your treatment plan. It prevents you from “falling off the wagon.”
• Some of the world’s most influential individuals have suffered from some form of mental illness. You’d be surprised at how many mental illness sufferers walk amongst you each day.
Your best bet when facing a mental illness is to do as much research as possible. Getting educated helps you to gain understanding of your condition. It also helps you to manage responses and expectations.
Above all, remember that mental illness isn’t a death sentence. Life gets back on track once the sufferer seeks treatment and support.
Photo: Mariona Campmany