Bursting the Bubble of Isolation in Mental Illness
Living in "the bubble"
Living with mental illness was a difficult battle for me as well as my nuclear and extended family over the past twenty-nine years. I am fortunate to have made a good recovery to date but it takes some work and insight to maintain the balance with a view to sustaining this recovery.
This hub is about addressing some of the issues related to mental health and mental hygiene that I have learned from having lived with a bipolar condition and the best way of describing it is that it is like living in a bubble. If one is in a bubble it is difficult to "connect" with other people in any meaningful way so one becomes isolated and withdrawn. It is nearly impossible for others to help someone in such a bubble because of this withdrawal.
The consequences of living in a bubble are threefold:
This is the loneliest part of being in a bubble. Sometimes I felt that I would do or say the wrong things so I kept my distance from the people in my life out of fear of hurting them or doing them harm. This was wrong-it is much better to have the confidence to reach out to others but if one is unable to do so, life can be very lonely even when surrounded by one's family.
Like isolation ,this results in loneliness but the difference is that this occurs during the periods when one is not in the bubble of isolation. I used to withdraw back into the bubble out of habit and fear of getting hurt along with fear of hurting others. However, this was a very bad way of dealing with things and worst of all it resulted in the opposite effect-my family suffered because of my withdrawal as they were unable to help me at that time.
3. Negative thinking
It was a very bad idea for me to have spent so much time in my own head over the years as the phenomenon of "stinking thinking" took over. It is also true to say that my perception of the reality of my circumstances was often flawed because of these negative thought patterns.
Furthermore, negative thinking resulted in some anger and occasionally a sort of "silent rage" which was very difficult to manage in the course of my daily business.
It is such a relief that I do not suffer from these symptoms any more and I appreciate the mental hygiene I have achieved in my recovery which was only possible with the assistance of my nuclear and extended family, my friends and competent health care professionals.
In this context, it is worth pointing out that this recovery takes work on a daily basis and it takes patience-not the stubborn patience of enduring mental illness but a patience that comes from acceptance of the condition and a willingness to recover.
Challenging the stigma
There is such a stigma attached to mental illness that people are not even aware that they have a prejudice relating to those with mental health conditions. This stigma occurs for two reasons:
All of us know that anyone can be affected by mental health problems. This makes people who do not have this problem fearful that it might be contagious. It is my view that we are all on a continuum of mental health to some extent so that it is not a case of "them" and "us".
Another hallmark of mental illness is misunderstanding. On the one hand,people who do not hava a psychiatric condition cannot relate to those who do because they just have a different frame of mind. The best thing to do for those who wish to help is to break the silence and listen to what the person with mental health problems has to say.
Secondly,if someone's mental health is limited at times it makes one's communication skills limited as well. One is not good at saying what one means and meaning what one says . In my experience, my mind was so cluttered with stuff, I expressed myself badly. Clear communication and the ability to express oneself are the primary factors to avoid misunderstanding and being misunderstood.
The challenge to change
Those of us who get the chance to make a full recovery are the lucky ones. Many unfortunate people suffer in the silence and taboo of mental illness all their lives. Their quality of life is limited because of their conditionMental illness can also be a life-threatening illness as can be seen from the suicide rates in different countries.
Finally, it is not a weakness to have mental health difficulties.In fact,one has to be strong to manage it and in my case, I am just one of the lucky ones who have been able to get and take the opportunity to make a full recovery.
There is a new initiative for positive mental health in Ireland which you will find out more about at greenribbon.ie
More by this Author
It is clear that alcohol affects your eyes in many ways. Firstly, there is the temporary effect of distorting vision due to the effects of alcohol on the brain. This is a short-term consequence, occurring mainly during...
We must cultivate an attitude of gratitude to get o well in life. We must see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty and always remember it is refillable. Read on to find out more.
There is a lot of money spent by pharmaceutical companies and others on advertising the benefits of modern medicine.Consequently,a lot of negative information on the subject does not reach the public domain.Although...