Myths About Mental Illness

Now that I have ventured back into reading other blogs, which inevitably leads to reading other blogs and clicking on other links, as well as my boredom fetish of reading Reddit threads in spite of its toxicity…I’m not sure if I am better off or worse off. There’s still a lot of misinformation (even from people who claim to have a particular mental illness) and once again, there is no hard science when it comes to mental illness. Just theories, experiments, suppositions, assumptions.
Oh, and a lot of professionals contradicting each other and jockeying for “My theory is the truth” status.
So if everyone can just get in the ring…I’m going to join in with my own personal experiences to bust some myths. Sadly this won’t involve gunfire or blowing shit up like the TV mytbusters but maybe it will blow up the box on how some view mental illness. Taking your information from articles done by professionals is one venue.
If you want the truth, talk to someone who LIVES it.

Myth #1:
Mentally ill people are violent.
Total bullshit. Is it possible? Yes. But it’s possible to be violent due to use of alcohol, drugs, a life crisis, or just born plain mean.
If anything most mentally ill people are far too consumed by their illness to even contemplate violence.

Myth#2:
Mentally ill people are lazy.
Again, absolute bullshit.
Until you know what it’s like to struggle out of bed each day due to the state of your own mind, it will surely seem lazy. In fact, I think we work harder than anyone because we are at war with our illness, ill equipped to handle even more deviation and stress, and yet expected to get through it just like the masses without illness.
THAT takes work and strength you cannot imagine.

Myth#3
Depression is just “the blues” and people choose to feel melancholy.
Perhaps this myth is the one that infuriates me most. There has never been a moment in my life that I thought, “Oh, wow, I am going to be depressed because it’s so much to want to curl up in a closet, cry, and pray for death.”
The fact anyone can even say something like that with a straight face is galling.
Depression is a lot like being drugged. Until it wears off, you’re basically a stumbling zombie and willpower has nothing to do with it. Much like going to the dentist and having your gums shot with Novacaine, it doesn’t matter how much you want to not feel numb or puffy or have your taste and sensations affected. It wears off when it wears off.
If you went through three hundred days a year feeling like your brain’s been shot full of Nocacaine, you might realize how it can distort and adversely affect a person.

Myth#4
Bipolar patients simply want an excuse for their erratic, impulsive behavior to avoid taking responsibility for their poor choices.
Again, manic episodes and major depressions (for bipolar 2) are like being drugged against your will. It’s like the part of your brain that grasps consequences has been shut off. You are in your own little world.
But when you come to your senses after the episode, no one empathetically touches your shoulder and says, “It’s okay, you weren’t quite yourself.”
So the notion that bipolar gives us an excuse is ridiculous. It just makes it worse.

Myth#5
Anxiety is a personality trait.
I don’t dispute that there are certain triggers that can cause anxiety and heighten it. I don’t dispute some are just high strung personalities.
But an anxiety disorder means it’s not just a fear of public speaking and sweaty palms. It has triggers and sometimes, it’s completely random.
The physical aspects are grueling.
Self pep talks, relaxation techniques, medication, therapy…None of it is a cure for the most serious of anxiety disorders.
Most people say “I’m nervous” and I laugh at them because aside from sweaty palms, they’re fine. Not to belittle them at all, it’s just…I go on a date and have a panic attack so bad I’m puking over the side of a boat.
I’ll take sweaty palms any day.
It’s like obsessive compulsive tendencies verses OCD. Okay, you like everything just so, you can’t stand disarray, you check twice that your door is locked. That’s a personality quirk.
When you spend hours every day washing your hands until they are raw or scrubbing a floor that is spotless…That’s a disorder.

Myth#6:
Post traumatic stress syndrome is caused solely by abuse or war.
I think any experience repeated often enough that takes a toll on you physically and mentally is PTSD.
That is not to liken a panic attack to being shot at or raped.
But I think the scope of PTSD is rather narrow. One needn’t be subjected to absolute horror to be traumatized.

Myth#7:
Meds are the answer.
Therapy is the answer.
Exercise is the answer.
Diet is the answer.
Because mental illness treatment is an inexact science and we are all individuals, what works for a million people may fail one person. Does this make the one person wrong or beyond help?
No.
For multiple diagnoses, often the right medication combo is the magic bullet even if takes years to find it.
For some, simple talk therapy works.
Others can exercise and feel all cured.
It is not for me, or anyone else, to dictate what will help anyone else.
All we can do is try approaches and go with the ones that work best for us personally.
And I have noticed there’s a bit of snobbery even amongst the mentally ill.
“Well, I just exercise six hours a day and I’m not depressed anymore. You only THINK you need drugs because it’s the easy way out.”
Having had toxic reactions to several different drugs, I assure you it is NOT the easy way out.
At the same time will be someone who’s having a bout of depression and a year or so of an SSRI will make them all better so they expect it should be the same for others.
Rather than judge each other and argue best treatments, we need to focus on what helps each of us and support each other with respect and empathy. Otherwise we are no better than the detractors we rail against.

Myth#8:
You can “snap” out of mental illness.
This to me is as ludicrous as telling a diabetic to “regulate” their disorder without insulin.
I don’t think some people know how ignorant and asinine their thoughts can be.

Myth#9:
Mental illness is just negative thinking.
You can spew rainbows and sunshine til doomsday. If you have a mental illness, it is tainting every thought you have.
As I used to tell the Donor and his shiny happy people demeanor which he tried to force on me…”You can paint a pile of dogshit pastel purple and call it a prety Easter egg..It’s still a pile of dogshit.”
Okay, so I’m crude but the point stands.
Sometimes, things just suck. And if your brain is in that dark place, then it goes beyond negative thought. That’s when it becomes an actual illness.

Myth#10
Those with mental illness are self absorbed selfish “me me me” attention seekers.
Actually, that’s a complete fallacy.
Mental illness IS self absorbed because you’re trapped with it in your own mind.
But as far as being selfish or attention seeking…
It makes me less selfish and more willing to be empathetic.
The last thing I want when I am in a deep depression is a spotlight aimed my way.

In closing I just want to say…
My writing may be scattered, rough, and make no sense to some…And I will never end up on the top ten list of mental health blogs…
But I, and my words, are real. No filters, no grammar/spell check, no editor creating purple prose.
I tell it like I see and feel it.
I don’t need accolades.
I just want to educate and empathize.

****EDIT
Ha ha, I contradict myself. But there was one more I read earlier this week that just pissed me the fuck off.

Mentally ill people should not have children.
Um…That’s like saying someone with a history of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes shouldn’t have kids.
I mean, a condition that affects one’s ability to parent is the same physical or mental. And if it’s in our genetics, the kid’s got a chance of getting it anyway.
So why can’t mentally ill people have kids?
Oh, right. Because some people are dumbasses.
Makes me want to pop out ten more.
Done.

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7 Responses to “Myths About Mental Illness”

  1. Great post (easily explained) to those people that do not endure the stigma, burdens, suffering & myths that those of us that live with the many different types of mental illness we face daily, often without true understanding &/or support systems that we sooo need,,,
    Thank you, Diane ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you. Glad it resonated. I apparently don’t make sense to some but I don’t make sense to me, either. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      On Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 12:16 PM, Take a Ride on My Mood Swing wrote:

      >

  2. Mental Thoughts with Michael Says:

    Amazing…simply Amazing!!! One of the best post on mental illness I have ever read! By the way, my wife was told by a psych that we should not have kids because of my mental illness. You know what our answer was? 4 wonderful spirits sent into our life. They WERE my godsend…my saving grace…and one of the few reasons for me to live. Thank you so much for this post. I will be reblogging this one as well.

    • I am actually thankful for the reblog. Not because I want to promote myself (I prefer hiding in the corner) but because it’s an important topic that really needs to be put out there. Knowledge is power and ignorance is well, a large percentage of the world when it comes to mental illness. Time to take them all to school. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • My daughter has been saving grace. I actually got worse from a mental standpoint because of all the physiological changes the whole process caused but from an intellectual standpoint…She’s made me grow up and realize I don’t have the luxury of waving the white flag to my illnesses without a really big fight. No regrets. She’s made me a better person.

  3. Mental Thoughts with Michael Says:

    Reblogged this on Mental Thoughts with Michael and commented:
    One of the best post on mental illness and it’s stigma that I have ever read! A wonderful piece! Do yourself a favor and read this blog. It will be well worth your time.

  4. I appriciate your honesty, humor, and comparisons to real life understandable scenarios, you rock it, love the way you write it too ;~) Great post. Work in Progress Mystical Luna Rose.

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