Mental illness is shrouded with shame and stigma. Many people with a mental illness don’t fully understand what is going on in their own head let alone describing it to others. This confusion will often result in a person with mental illness retreating into themselves because they aren’t sure who to talk to.
The stigma of mental illness may even cause a person to try and convince themselves that they are alright, they are just tired or need a mental distraction. A person may even try to tell themselves they are being weak without fully realizing what they are actually feeling. To top it off, a person with mental illness reaches out for help, they may be told to get over it, calm down, they are exaggerating things and the infamous “be positive” saying. This may make a mentally ill person feel shame for reaching out or even more confusion.
There is nothing wrong with being positive. Depending on the issue at hand, “being positive” can be the equivalent of having a broken finger, but being grateful you still have ten digits and not seeking medical help. There are some things “being positive” cannot reverse.
You may have read online that being grateful for what you have and staying positive is very important for mental health or mental healing. But there are times when these feelings cannot be ignored and will only intensify. Even a healthy person has negative voices in their heads on a daily basis. Imagine what those same negative voices are saying and doing to the mind of someone with a mental illness.
Many may force themselves to smile and bury their struggles which will make recovery harder. People with mental illness need to face the truth in order to move forward and live a productive life. Instead of only portraying kindness and compassion to others, a person with mental illness needs to focus that energy on themselves.
Don’t be so hard on your present or past. As life goes on, we tend to think about the could have, would have or should have. These thoughts can easily build up and cause additional stress. This may lead to anxiety because if you’re projecting a negative present, you’ll only project a negative future for yourself. Instead of concentrating on what you feel are the negative results thus far, try thinking about how to correct or change certain aspects of your life. It’s OK to not be immediately better at what you’re doing. It does take time, but putting in the effort will help.
Try to surround yourself with items or activities of comfort. Listen to music or participate in an activity that will give you a mental break. Sometimes that mental break can give you some clarity of whatever issue was stressing you out. When dealing with depression, your first thought may be to isolate yourself and retreat into silence or darkness. The last thing you want to do is neglect yourself and push other positive forces away.
You are not alone. Even when you’re surrounded by people, it may be hard to connect. Talk to close friends or relatives who you know will listen to what you have to say without judgment. If you’re religious, talk to your religious leader. Do not push people away because you feel as though they won’t want to listen or understand. The goal is to find someone who will truly listen to your deepest emotional feelings.
Having family and friends as a support system are amazing, but receiving professional help is vital. A mental illness is a real medical condition. Several certified counselors and physicians are trained to help you on the road to recovery.
There are so many other ways to help a person with mental illness, but without us knowing which illness one may have, we can only provide a place to begin. With whatever steps you take, keep in mind you have to take care of yourself. It is far easier to be a nurture of others than ourselves. Recognize the difference and get the help and mental relief you deserve.