Mental Illness Personalized
The subjectivity related to the field of mental health has a lot to do with the many different versions of a particular mental illness. Someone with MDD may by suffering from a decreased appetite and sleep, while another person with atypical depression may be experiencing an increased appetite and sleep. Mental illness may affect everyone differently even if the diagnosis is the same. That’s why we cannot assume that we understand what everyone is going through.
It’s not that the mechanism of action of a mental illness is different for everyone; the same imbalance in neurotransmitters and structural brain changes may be occurring in everyone who is affected. But not everyone views a similar environment in the same way and that’s why mental health is unique to each individual. In order to more effectively help a person suffering from a mental illness, we must become more effective and empathic listeners.
One’s surroundings, financial and marital status, background, childhood and even race affects their perception of reality differently when suffering from a mental illness. For instance, a rich 40 year-old man may recover more easily from depression than a poor 40 year-old man isolated in a rural area. One’s environment and background are extremely important to how they handle their present day mental illness.
Can you see how and why mental health is so personalized to the individual patient? Half the battle of defeating a mental illness has to do with a patient’s current social and financial status. If a patient has nothing going for them, think how much more difficult it is for them to harness the inner strength and desire to recover from their mental illness; medications will not always carry the heavy load all the way to the finish line.
From now on, whenever you meet someone who you think might be suffering from a mental illness, don’t be quick to assume that you understand their pain and suffering. You really have to listen to them carefully and even then, you might not relate. But you don’t have to be able to relate in order to be of help; listening will always go a long way to helping a mental health patient feel heard and more accepted.
Let’s continue to come together and share our experiences with mental illness. By opening up and spreading more honesty, love and joy into the world, we will be able to create a place where people will no longer be ashamed of their mental health status; a world where acceptance and appreciation of one’s differences will be the reality at play.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)