Denial Keeps Those with a Mental Illness From Getting Better
Many people commented on the article I wrote about what a loved one can say to someone who has attempted suicide. One thing is clear from all the outreach - many people have attempted suicide and many people have survived. No one in this situation is alone.
But after a suicide attempt people invariably feel alone. They feel like a freak. They feel hurt and afraid. And when other people deny their suicide attempt, deny their pain, deny their mental illness, this makes things worse, not better.
Denial is keeping your loved one from getting better.
Head-in-the-Sand Denial Doesn't Make Reality a Lie
Denying a problem doesn't make it go away any more than putting your hands over your eyes makes the world disappear. The world is there as soon as you move your hands. And you can't live with your hands over your eyes forever.
Denying your spouse hits you doesn't make the bruises go away. Denying your dad is an alcoholic doesn't stop him from passing out every night. Denying you had unprotected sex doesn't make you any less pregnant.
Why Would I Deny a Mental Illness If There Were One?
And one of the more devastating things to deny is a person's illness. This could be any illness, but so often it's a mental illness.
"Oh, you know Uncle Jim, he's just odd (not schizophrenic)."
"Your sister Sally just gets upset sometimes (not depressed)."
And so on.
This denial may make it easier for the loved one, but saying the false words makes it infinitely harder for the person who is actually sick.
Why Does Mental Illness Denial Matter?
Isn't it easier to not talk about it?
Well, yes. You can not talk about the elephant in the room but then you'll never get rid of the elephant in the room.
The problem with denying illness, which includes illness symptoms like a suicide attempt, is illness needs treatment. And you can't get treatment for something that doesn't exist. If my arm isn't broken, it doesn't need a cast.
And when those around the mentally ill person say the illness doesn't exist, it makes it that much harder for the person with the illness to come to terms with their illness, their symptoms and getting treatment. It hard enough to admit to yourself you're sick, when everyone around you is saying you're not, it nears impossible.
Living in denial means doing nothing about the illness. If doing nothing worked, the person wouldn't be in pain. If doing nothing worked, people wouldn't attempt suicide.
If denying mental illness worked, there would be no more mental illness.
Your Denial is Hurting the Ones You Love
Your denial is making it harder on the person who is sick. Your lies, told to selfishly maintain your own comfort, are making it more painful for the person you claim to care about. You're hindering their getting treatment. You're lessening the chances of their getting better.
It doesn't matter if the person needs a psychiatrist, a therapist, a hospital or a hug; with everyone around them denying their needs, they can't get any of it.
Tracy, N. (2011, July 14). Denial Keeps Those with a Mental Illness From Getting Better, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/07/denial-keeps-those-with-a-mental-illness-from-getting-better
Author: Natasha Tracy
I see this with my husband's family. His brother has been hospitalized 3 times. He's bipolar and but but split personality. Unfortunately, the whole family denies this. He lost his marriage to hitting his wife. Also was convicted of drinking and driving. My husband paid over 50,000G's with lawyer fees etc. He also supported him financially for 11 years. This 52 year old has lived with his parents the last 11 years since his marriage failed. He worked at my husbands office but was fired a few times and of course my husband rehired him.
None of this has helped him. He quit over 7 months ago. All the other employees are happy that he is gone. I blame my hubby for just enabling for the last 11 years. He doesn't take meds and is lucky to live with his aging parents.
But the whole family won't talk about it
Tragic. I fear one day-since he has violent tendencies that he will kill my husband because deep down he hates my hubby. The other dumb sisters avoid the whole issue. But they also have their issues. What makes this sad is my mother in laws brother is the one who had the illness. Then she has a son and denies the illness but it's from her family. It such a mess
Although I am loved by my extended family I get comments such as why talk about mental illness on Facebook all the timesnd it makes me angry. My mothers side of the family seem to think just seeing any doctor ever is shameful.
Behind all stigma is denial, fear and ignorance.
with all that said, what helps is groups attending, trying to relate with no judgement listening to ppls recovery and how to learn from are weaknesses and heal through the confidentiality to bond share talk the group is called Recovery Talks. I have grown so much and us mindfulness, coping skills and is also geared around the 8 Fundamental of Wellness! Its a great group and is a remarkable inspiring to be apart of wellness, my favorite is when someone who usually only listens for a few weeks all of a sudden smiles softly and talking it is such a sudden thing to see him/her coming out of their shell! I now have a two yr. goal, to become a peer support speciality. I hope my mini novel helps someone.
I dont think its much different from an alcoholic taking that one drink.
No one wants wants to take medication just to be "Normal." The stigma concerning mental health makes it hard to accept.
Sometimes family members with mental illnesses (diagnosed or not) Really believe their loved one is better. They see them go back to the person they may remember while in treatment and/or on medication.They want their loved one to be well bad enough they block out the bad to focus on the good.
Every case and each pwrson is different. The one thing I think most will agree with is education is the key. That and dont judge others. Anyone dealing with illnesses of any kind could use support. I think mental health should be one of the ones at the top of the list. :)
I think more people need to read this and realize that what they're doing is wrong.
I'm sorry you're in that position. It's extremely difficult on this side of the crazy to see it sometimes. We don't want to believe we're sick. It's a pretty natural reaction.
There is only so much you can do if the person isn't a danger to themselves or others. You might be able to get through to him, you might not. Maybe later on you'll be able to approach the subject again. Even if he doesn't get it at this moment, it doesn't mean there isn't a possibility in the future.
I wrote an article on this: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/09/how-do-i-convince-my-friend-to-get-help-for-bipolar-disorder/
I hope that helps.
Well, with all due respect, I think a suicide attempt is so obvious that people in denial about it really are lying. Sure, many people don't know that they have a problem in many areas of their lives, but an actual attempt at death is too obvious to miss.
I agree, education can help this problem.
"When I admitted I was depressed, I could finally take steps to move on."
Yes, that's the point exactly.
You can't deny a physical illness- symptoms manifest.
You can't deny a mental illness- symptoms manifest here too.
however, in the minds of some, denial.. makes it easier to bear.
When I admitted I was depressed, I could finally take steps to move on.
That's a fair enough point, but what I'm talking about is the denial by the people around the individual with the illness and not the individual themselves.
http://mentalhealthresolution.blogspot.com Thanks Terry Garahan