Accepting That You Have A Mental Illness

Tuesday, August 27 2013 Guest Author

Dysfunction doesn’t run, it gallops through my family tree! Growing up in a home with parents who were depressed, anxious and with various other emotional problems, tends to create children with the same issues. I am a testament to just that. I have never felt normal. I was always very reserved, withdrawn, cried easily and often I just wanted to sleep. I had few friends. I still shy away from people.

Accepting You Have A Mental Illness Takes Time, Work

Truly accepting that you have a mental illness and separating the mental illness from your identity takes time and workNow in my fifties, those negative influences have left their indelible mark in my brain and I have had to fight for peace of mind because it was a virtue that was as elusive as a butterfly. A possession not long held. I am diagnosed with dysthymia, anxiety disorders and I am prone to bouts of depression with paranoia. I have accepted my condition and have sought help. I have a counselor and doctor who treats my symptoms. I go to groups now where I share how I feel and try to encourage others who feel as if their lives have been turned upside down with an invisible illness.

It is difficult to explain to people that have not had similar problems, the difficulties one encounters when your brain isn’t well. People look at me and say things like, “You don’t look crazy. You look just fine to me!” They don’t know that inside I may be on the verge of hysteria. I may be trying as hard as I can to follow a discussion, yet disturbing ideas keep intruding and distracting me. Some expect to find a middle-aged woman who babbles and drools in a corner of an institution somewhere. That is STIGMA. Unless someone sees me act out inappropriately, they don’t believe me. That hurts!

Separating Your Identity From The Mental Illness

My condition is a part of my life, yet I am not the mental illness. I have an identity all my own. Although I don’t go around with a badge on my shirt that tells everyone what my diagnosis is, there are times when I might disclose that I have a mental health condition and explain how I may react when I am triggered. I have decided that I will not be ashamed of the faulty wiring in my brain. I am still intelligent, I am in recovery and I am trying to get to a place where I can advocate for others.

Until we can educate one another about mental illness and show compassion toward those that suffer with it, ignorance will endure and stigma along with it. It’s time for understanding and acceptance of an illness that cannot always be seen with the human eye.

(Ed. Note: If you feel the same way, please join the Stand Up for Mental Health Campaign.)

This article was written by:

Yelena Kersha is a full-time student at the College of Central Florida majoring in Psychology. She writes two blogs. Led to Truth, which deals with spiritual, sexual and emotional abuse and The Quieted Mind in which she shares her views on mental illness through the eyes of one who lives with it. She lives with her soul-mate and children in Central Florida. You can also connect with Yelena on Twitter.

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Accepting That You Have A Mental Illness

Jen J
says:
August, 27 2013 at 4:50 pm

Sometimes this separation is as simple as the difference between saying "I am bipolar" and "I have bipolar". If we identify too much with our disorder(s), it can overshadow who we are as individuals.

T
says:
August, 28 2013 at 1:24 pm

OH MY GOD !!!!! This is sooo "my chapter" at this moment in my life ! I'm soo glad to have stumbled upon this link. I received this EXACT diagnosis YESTERDAY! (I'm 39, and have masked this issue for so long. I can't do it anymore !!) I just want to scream ... SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME! But, in reality, I have to walk in the therapists door and breathe and ...start from "the beginning."

Will be checking out your blogs in hopes for inspiration while I raise my 3 beautiful daughters (in hopes they're not soo much like me!!)

Thanks for all you do !

T

Kathleen Brannon
says:
August, 28 2013 at 5:33 pm

On my Facebook page and in public discourse, this issue of whether one "is bipolar" or "has bipolar" comes up a lot. There are always people who prefer one or the other. It's your choice to identify yourself as you choose -- as long as you have chosen it and not had it imposed on you. Personally, I am bipolar. I have had bipolar "symptoms" since I can remember, and after a lifetime of "having" them they are me, and I am them, not only them but inextricably them. "Being" bipolar conveys the sense that I was "born this way." not at fault for my difficulties, not solely defined by them either, any more than someone who "is an alcoholic," or "is depressed" or "is diabetic" is considered to be defined solely by theose disorders. Being bipolar is a brain disorder and it is pervasive. It is inextricable from one's life experience. I do agree that "have" is better than "am" when speaking in public or generally, but you can self-identify any way you want and grant everyone else that right because it is a badge of honor, a sign you have survived and are recovering.

shamika10684
says:
October, 15 2013 at 11:44 am

I have the same issue but it involved death. Almost everybodythat I truly love and care bout died. The death line started in '93-'00, I think that god/Allah put me in this family tosee if I could handle that many deaths. I handle them in my own way. I am 29 now and been diagnosis with mood disorder and depressive disorder; the diagnosis was made in '10. Sometimes I feel like every thing and everyone that I love is in another realm then me. Having a mood disorder and depressive disorder is challenging cause I don't know how my mental demeanor going to be at times. In the care of two psych doc's right now and meds.

Alison Taylor
says:
January, 28 2014 at 3:55 pm

I have ptsd i have had the symptoms fo 30 years and did not know, i just knew there was something very wrong with me. I was diagnosed 2 years ago at a time of real distress and all i want is to get better.

liz
says:
June, 17 2014 at 4:04 am

It is 2am and after many years of hoping to find some one or some thing to fix all my issues so I can be and live my life "like a normal mentally healthy person) I suddenly out of the blue realizing that I am indeed mentally ill and although I look normal I may just be limitted and even decline in my mental illness to the point of having to be institutionalized.
Wow! IS THERE A WAY TO BE AT PEACE WITH THAT REALITY? Now wbat? DO I accept this and let people in my life have the final say about what is best for me? I always thought that someday..............

mamitrovich87
says:
July, 4 2014 at 1:29 pm

There is a big stigma against mental illness that needs to stop. I have been diagnosed as bipolar type 1,having severe anxiety, and an eating disorder. I have lost friends over this and actually lost a job because they didn't trust me working with children. What they didn't know was that I'm not crazy and never had thoughts of hurting anyone else, but they only see what TV and other media outlets have described us as.

I hope this stigma will end and that we can live in a world where people won't see us as dangerous or crazy, but see us as real people. Great article!

sherri
says:
July, 8 2014 at 6:51 pm

I have suffered with depression, anxiety, social phobia and bipolar since childhood. Of course I'm under psychiatric care for a long time. I am unable to differentiate between am I happy and content or not due to the depression. I'm neither sad or happy. Just exist. What a life to live. Course my depression worsened after my son took his life. I had to admit myself for inpatient treatment after my loss. All in all question what life has in store for me.

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