A Look Through the Prism of Illness
What People Living With Mental Disorders Feel
Through the Prism of Illness
Although statistics concerning the mental health of individuals worldwide often appear gloomy, the last decades have brought along one significant improvement which aims to ease the burdens that mental illnesses bring.
The stigma and shame that used to accompany this vital topic are steadily fading, so nowadays, more and more people feel free to seek professional help to improve and maintain their mental health.
What is a mental disorder?
From depression and psychoses to developmental disorders, there are many forms mental disorders can take. What is common to them all, according to health professionals, are more or less conspicuous changes in emotions, thinking, and/or behavior, often associated with distress and problems when it comes to functioning in different social activities.
The reasons why a person developed a specific mental disorder are sometimes easier to recognize (in cases of genetic predispositions, notable stress in a person’s life, poor nutrition, or exposure to environmental hazards). Still, it’s often difficult to point a finger to one and exact cause. The most common mental illness triggers are numerous and different in nature, ranging from socio-cultural, economic, and political factors to living standards and community and family support.
Living with a mental disorder
Each and every person has a different outlook on their life, and the same goes for people living with a mental illness. However, thanks to the fact that they nowadays feel more supported and open when it comes to sharing their experiences, we can make a few observations on which feelings, fears, and struggles most individuals living with mental illnesses share:
- Feeling tired, inadequate, unmotivated, and/or not being in control of their lives;
- Feeling guilty or ashamed because of their condition, which often leads to avoiding social interactions;
- Failing to find ways to express how they feel, what they need, and what bothers them;
- Failing to understand, control, and sometimes even identify their negative emotions;
- Fighting prejudices around mental disorders, including beliefs that they’re just “weak,” “exaggerating,” “spoiled,” or “lazy.”
One of the most common misconceptions about mental disorders is that they’re always notably visible. Unfortunately for those who know better, it is often not so. A person can be struggling with certain forms of mental illnesses, such as depression, without ever visibly looking so. Therefore it’s crucial to observe and listen to people you care about, not just to hear what they’re saying, but also to try and spot what they’re omitting.
How to support a person living with a mental disorder?
Living with a mental illness is often very challenging, both physically and mentally. A regular day at work, time spent with the kids, or a 5-minute wait at a grocery store cash register can turn into situations where a person feels afraid, sad, alone, or incapable of dealing with the expected interactions.
Since they have such a different experience when it comes to everyday events, people living with mental disorders can use all the support they can get from their closest friends and family members. Here is what to do (and not to do) if you want to support a person close to you in their journey to a healthier and happier life:
- Learn and try to understand their symptoms, how they manifest, and how to soften the blows. According to the health topics experts from pro writers, the only way to be genuinely supportive of a person living with a mental disorder is to try and put yourself in their shoes.
- Show empathy and consideration for what a person with a mental disorder is going through. Don’t try to “fix” them or dictate to them what to do. Just be present, supportive, and loving.
- Try not to get offended, angry, or impatient in your interactions. People with mental illnesses often already feel enormous amounts of pressure coming from the inside, so avoid adding up to it.
- Encourage them to let go of fear and shame and help them seek professional help. Your support can make a world of difference for a person living with a mental illness, but nothing can substitute the insights and assistance a medical professional can offer.
- When you’re feeling stressed, burdened, or overwhelmed, take a step back and keep your distance in a respectful, non-judgemental way. Take the time to stabilize your own emotions to be able to help someone else handle theirs.
When it comes to mental illness, there is no discrimination: People of all genders, ages, social statuses, religious views, and political orientations are susceptible. This is only one of the reasons why understanding how a person with a mental disorder feels, thinks, and lives can be constructive and supportive, and in some instances, even life-saving.
Although a person with a healthy mind can never truly comprehend the thoughts and feelings of an individual living with a mental disorder, it’s still essential to make an honest effort. Friendship, love, and sincere support make substantial positive effects on these persons’ lives. Sometimes, even a single kind word can make all the difference and make someone’s day a whole lot brighter.