Throughout history the topic of mental illness has been almost taboo. They used to burn crazy women “witches” at the stake, and give the misunderstood or those who were out of control a lobotomy. Even to this day some view mental illness as a disease or something you won’t be able to overcome. Families will shut out members that they don’t understand or can’t stand to be around….Friends will do the same…Doctors will pump children with large amounts of medication, before they are even old enough to develop skills to help themselves get out of the chaos their minds have put them in…Teachers will label children as the ”BAD” kid.
So, what happens to the person or the child who is silently struggling…the misunderstood that get rejected…???
Why has society developed such a negative stigma in regards to mental health? Why is our first instinct to give medication? Why is it that when someone says they are seeing a counselor we think, oh that person must be crazy? Why do people refuse to seek help? Why do people give up on life?
So many questions!!! I believe the answer is EDUCATION! We must teach society about mental health and the options to treatment. We must teach that mental illness is not a death sentence, that mental illness is not a weakness, that mental illness is treatable.
There are many movements and organizations attempting to shed some light on the negativity attached to mental health. As a Counselor I try to open the eyes of others through blogging about my own mental health struggles, I share with clients, I support mental health and will educate every chance I get. You never know when your words can help someone who struggles.
Counseling: I have been a counselor for nine years. I learn something new everyday. My clients teach me and I teach them. We work together to find a comfortable balance for their daily lives. Counseling can be empowering!! As a counselor I don’t tell you how to live your life, I don’t prescribe medication, I don’t put unrealistic expectations on you, I don’t judge you…I am HUMAN just like you!! I have made bad decisions, I have found myself not wanting to work or get out of bed…just like you. I make sure to make that clear to every client I encounter. Now, not all counselors are created equal, so shop around to find a good fit.
Medication: I have had experiences with medication personally and through observation of others close to me. It can be scary, but it can also be helpful. Yes there are weird side effects such as night sweats, weight gain/loss, extra anxiety, vivid weird dreams, cotton mouth…just to name a few…but they can also lower your anxiety levels over time, allow you to see in color again, and overall make you feel so much better as you work on healing yourself. Medication doesn’t have to be permanent unless you feel it’s necessary…there are other natural options to help supplement.
Crazy talk: Just because you see a counselor or take meds doesn’t mean you are CRAZY!!! To tell you the truth…..we are all a little CRAZY! No one is PERFECT!! PERFECTION doesn’t exist!! We all have brains, and emotions…therefore we are all effected by our daily encounters. Some have great coping skills and others don’t. Don’t allow others opinions or actions towards you…make you think you are any less of a person. They are most likely suffering themselves from something they are too afraid to reveal. Embrace that inner CRAZINESS!!!
Weakness: To be able to admit to yourself and others that you need help takes STRENGTH!! You are not WEAK when you cry or ask for help…You are BRAVE and STRONG…and SMART!!! You don’t want to give up, feel pain, confusion, or loss…you want to LEARN and CHANGE it!!! Seeing a counselor or being diagnosed doesn’t make you WEAK!! Empower yourself and make positive changes in your life. Don’t allow the diagnosis or the emotions to take control…They are just labels and feelings…you are a HUMAN BEING…your existence is a miracle in its self. You are more powerful and important than any problem you encounter.
Now the real question…To GIVE UP & EXCLUDE…or To LEARN, EDUCATE, & GROW??
It’s easy to stay depressed, reject, or to suffer…NO ONE wants it…but it’s easy and comfortable. It’s uncomfortable to allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask questions or get help. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable. A moment of vulnerability can change your life or the life of another. Educate yourself so you can educate others. Mental illness doesn’t have to be taboo or a negative thing. We can save those who feel they can’t go on..those who have lost hope… You don’t have to suffer silently. We have the ability to create a POSITIVE image of Mental Health. Ask questions…get help…educate yourself and GROW. Don’t let Mental Illness be scary.