Misconceptions of Mental Illness, Facts You Should Know
Not So Crazy After All
There are so many myths out there about what causes mental illness, you don't know what to believe. There are just as many misconceptions about mental illness that are just not true. You may have heard all kinds of disinformation about people who have a mental illness, things like they are violent, and dangerous, or people with schizophrenia are murderous maniacs who kill and molest children.
Or they are just downright lazy, if they tried a little harder they could just get over it. These misconceptions, are just that, harsh misconceptions. These kinds of beliefs are what stigmatizes people with a real mental illness. This kind of thinking is what keeps people with mental disorders in the closet. Hiding from treatment, fear of being made fun of, fear of being called crazy. the loss of friends and family, or much worse.
Mental illness can be caused by many factors. Heredity can be one factor. Often times it can be inherited from a parent or grandparent. Trauma can play a huge role in mental illness. Losing a job, going through a divorce, a death of loved one, deteriorating health issues, serious financial woes, all can add stress and trigger emotional problems that can heighten an ongoing mental illness such as depression, and anxiety disorders.
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The Real Facts
1. Psychiatric disorders are genuine medical illnesses in and of the brain. Scientists have begin to recognize the correlation between chemicals in the brain and mental illness. They are learning more about the specific chemicals and locations in the brain where specific reactions take place. This research suggests the biological and genetic factors can be the cause psychiatric disorders.
It is not your fault. Having a mood disorder is not like getting cootie's. Mental Illness not contagious. You did not wake up one day and ask for a mental illness. Some contributing factors of mental illness disorders can birth trauma, chemical imbalances in the brain, and biological, environmental, social and cultural factors.
These serious psychiatric disorders can to be treated with the proper medications. Therapy along with medication treatment can also be an option as well. There are people who do not get a lot out of therapy. While others find it to be an additional advantage. Only you can decide the course of treatment that will work for you.
There is no cure for mental illness, but there are treatments options. It isn't always going to be a pleasant little ride. There are absolutely good days and bad. Time and again medications might suck, with some medications you have the blood draws that can be annoying, you might gain weight from certain medications, side affects that unhinge you. But eventually you find some middle ground. A normal or gray area when things are okay. If you work at it, life can be good.
2. Society may have the impression that people with a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are violent, uncontrollable, unpredictable and raging. When in fact most people with mental illnesses are much more likely to be the victim of a crime as opposed to committing one. The vast majority of a mentally ill person is not violent. These inaccurate beliefs are what leads to widespread stigma and discrimination.
I have seen this way to often. I have had my share of getting bullied just for walking out of a "crazy" clinic as I heard them remarks as. Some people are just misinformed and judgmental. They often want you to believe we are the ones who are violent and committing all the crime rampages. When that is just not the case. Crimes are committed everyday by your regular garden variety normal person. But we are still called crazy. And they are still called normal.
There is a small portion of mentally ill people who are a risk to society and need to be imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. These facts cannot be denied. There are more than 1.2 million people with mental illness in U.S. jails or prisons, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
3. You cannot make mental illness go away. As much as I and probably thousands of others have tried to make it disappear, it is not going to just go away. Many people being treated for a mental illness can and are able to lead fulfilling lives in their community, friends and family.
It all depends on the treatment plan you follow for yourself. How well you work together with a psychiatrist, and/or therapist, if you take your medications, and how well you balance the rest of your life.
There are treatment services and community based support systems available. It is just a matter of finding them and integrating them into your life. There is no reason a person with a mental illness should have to go without treatment. There are local and national services available to help those who need it. Follow the links for more information.
4. Mental Illness is not caused by bad parenting. I am positive many people looking through their little magnifying glass will make some judgments on how I traveled around the bend. My mother wasn't paying attention, my daddy was a rip roaring badass. They were both raging alcoholics, perhaps they were always locking me in the broom closet. Now that might cause bad behavior, but it didn't cause my bipolar disorder. It may exaggerate my symptoms, but they didn't cause me to be mentally ill.
I am sure there are folks who will argue differently. But I had a lot of problems and not just because my parents were ranting through most of my childhood. Swatting me with a switch did not make a genetic imbalance. It made me hate tree's with switches. Calling me over emotional did not make me have manic depressive mood swings. Bipolar is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Causing moods to swing from manic to depression.
5. Depression does not make you weak or lazy, it is caused by chemical changes in the brain. That is NOT your fault. With treatment you can a better quality of life if you so choose to. There have been many members of society who went on to have a successful career despite having a severe mental illness. I am bet they were called a lot of names along the way too. Weak and lazy is as bad as stupid and ugly. Besides I like being lazy sometimes. Especially when I don't feel like doing anything.
Check out this impressive list of people, they purportedly have been touched by madness of some sort.
- Isaac Newton-Physicist, philosopher
- Charles Dickens-English Novelist
- Patty Duke-American Actress
- Linda Hamilton-American Actress
- Patricia Cornwell-American Author
- Vincent Van Gogh-Dutch Painter
- Winston Churchill-British Politician
6. Many people believe that schizophrenia is a split personality. It most certainly is not. It is an illness that affects people to not think clearly or logically. There is often a significant loss of contact with reality. You might see or hear things that do not exist, you might speak in strange or confusing ways, or believe that others are trying to harm you, or feel like you are being constantly watched. Schizophrenia seems to be caused by a combination of problems including genetic vulnerability and environmental factors that occur during a person's development.
I lived with a young man who was afflicted with severe schizophrenia. He was tormented his entire life. He was a great artist, a kind human being. Drawings of every imaginable creature spread entire bedroom wall. He constantly paced, talked continuously, screamed, voices kept him awake nearly always, until one day he took an overdose of medication and his light, is now dark. He is sadly missed everyday.
7. It is normal for the elderly to become depressed. Unfortunately it too often goes unrecognized because it is usually not reported. The elderly are sometimes very isolated, so their depression is frequently overlooked. Many Doctor's tend to brush off their mental complaints and concentrate more on their physical ones. Seniors are not likely to talk about their depression, nor ask for help.
8. Children often develop mental illnesses. One in ten children and teenagers are affected by some form a mental disorder. It too, often gets ignored as regular teenage angst, rebellion, and temper tantrums. Children and teenagers have other ways at expressing their symptoms. If you look hard enough you might get lucky and save your child from a lot of unnecessary misery. A lot of these symptoms could be bad behavior, so look closely.
Common Symptoms of Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder
•Explosive temper tantrums
•Frequent mood swings
•Difficulty getting up in the morning
•Oversensitivity to emotional or environmental triggers
9. And so, we, the ones with mental illnesses can and do get better, with medications, proper therapy and a positive treatment plan. We do of course have relapses, because treatment is not a cure. It is an ongoing condition that needs to be treated most likely for the rest of our lives. Having supportive family, friends and peers in our network can be helpful. Because sometimes we cannot do it alone. Reaching out and asking for help is one step forward to getting better.