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Exploring Mental Illness with Dr. S

Guest Author: Dr. S

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

“[Mental Health] is the ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges you face every day-whether that involves making choices and decisions, adapting to and coping in difficult situations, or talking about your needs and desires.”-Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 2003.

Mental health is when a person can find stability in all aspects of their lives including mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

When one or more of those things is impeded, and a person is unable to cope and/or function over a significant period of time, this could lead to mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety among others.

Although a lot of the symptoms that someone with a mental illness may display can be biologically explained, for some, it is not enough. You can ask some sufferers and they’ll tell you that none of that means anything to them.  You can define what it is but can’t define what a person is going through. Everyone suffers differently.

“Mental illness is when you can’t sleep because your head is too loud.”

-a sufferer

Being able to scientifically explain what is happening to them doesn’t ease the loneliness, isolation and pain that are brought on through their suffering.

You oftentimes can’t see mental illness the way you can see physical illness.

You oftentimes can’t see mental illness the way you can see physical illness. This inability to see the inner workings of a person’s mind has helped to perpetuate the stigma attached with mental illness.

Particular diagnosis or terms can give sufferers something tangible to grab and hold onto to help ease some of the confusion but it is only half the battle. Sticking only to medical terminology or the acceptance of such terminology hasn’t helped from people being told to “just suck it up” or “walk it off”. Many people who have loved ones who are suffering feel hopeless because they don’t know how to help them.

“Mental illness is when you sit in your car in freezing temperatures because you can’t bring yourself to get out and walk into your friend’s holiday party.”

-a sufferer

A lot of sufferers don’t reach out for help because society has deemed them to be weak rather than sick. But they need to know that it is okay to sit out a social activity because their anxiety is too high or to say I am depressed without being told ‘everyone is sad sometimes’.

They need to know it’s okay to seek help from a medical professional either through medicine, therapy or by any other means available. 

The key is not to necessarily define mental illness but rather to acknowledge it, understand it and work on it in a more public manner.

The key is not to necessarily define mental illness but rather to acknowledge it, understand it and work on it in a more public manner. The millions of sufferers out there don’t want to be labeled or branded, they want a safe environment that accepts rather than dismisses.

#SickNotWeak provides the public platform needed for those suffering to know that they’re not alone. #SickNotWeak helps begin the conversation necessary to open up communication.

“Mental health problems aren’t necessarily something that can be seen but can be felt and therefore needs the same attention as any other physical illness.”

-a sufferer

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