Today’s topic is Mental Illness! And what do we think of when we hear the words Mental Illness?
Usually something like our buddy Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter from the forthcoming Disney remake of Alice In Wonderland. We think of mental illness as something scary, creepy and bad.
So what do we always do when it comes to things that sound bad? We change it around to make it sound a little better. You know what I’m talking about: the Politically Correct movement of the late 80’s. No one says “retard” anymore (well, teenagers do, but that’s to be expected), they say “developmentally disabled.” No one faults anyone for being developmentally disabled, but you have to admit, that phrase doesn’t instill hope in the future of that person. Another example of this is anything with the word “challenged” after it.
Mental Illness is kind of the same way. I think that Mental Illness is even a politically correct term, to try to make it more acceptable as a legitimate illness, so insurance companies can pay for treatment. No harm there, right?
But then it got me thinking: People who are sick don’t call it “physical illness.” They just say “I’m sick.”
So I tried that: “I’m Mentally Sick.”
Somehow that didn’t exactly work very well.
On that same note though, no one is physically “well” all the time. Based on that logic, no one is mentally “well” all the time, either. It follows that if everyone has their fair share of physical illness, they also have their fair share of mental illness.
Just like physical illness though, you always have those people who don’t go to the doctor when they need help. Take me for example. I have to be dying to go to the doctor’s office. Generally I can handle whatever comes my way, so I don’t really go that often. Same thing with mental illness. Some people probably can handle theirs a little better than others, and as a result, they don’t go to get help, because its likely they don’t need it as much as some others.
Can anyone tell me what the equivalent of a mental cold is? How about a mental flu? Mental pneumonia?
So if we all have been mentally sick, or how about this, “Mentally Unhealthy”, can we really sit here and continue to give mental illness such a raw deal?
The answer is severity. You got 3 categories – Mild, Moderate and Severe.
Mild Mental Unhealthiness is probably most of us out there. You freak out because your girlfriend is hanging out with her ex. You get depressed when the weather gets cloudy and cold. You obsess a bit about whether or not the guy you met is going to call you.
Moderate Mental Unhealthiness is an issue that significantly affects your everyday life. You can’t stop thinking about your anxiety. Your depression gets you fired from your job. Your obsessions cost you relationship after relationship.
Severe Mental Unhealthiness is what will likely get you hospitalized. This is typified by life and death situations. Anything that can lead to the harm of self or others would be considered here.
See that? A little change in Thinking goes a long way. How we percieve mental illness determines our Emotions about it.
What’s the point? The point is that Mental Illness has a nasty stigma attached to it. The goal is to be Mentally Healthy, just as you would strive to be physically healthy. There’s nothing wrong with addressing mental health, and just like getting tested for cancer or an STD, it can mean the difference between catching something early, or having it affect your life in a dramatic way.
So allow yourself to recognize when you have a bit of Mental Unhealthiness. Its OK, we all have it from time to time.
Anyone I missed? What do you think? Give me what you got.