Mental Health: Diseases and Awareness

DepressionDid you know that yesterday was Mental Health Awareness Day?

I imagine not. Mental health and related diseases are the least talked about in our country. Such negative a stigma has been placed on what is a very prevalent issue medical condition . There is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide from when it comes to mental illness.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, a staggering one quarter of the U.S. adult population are diagnosable as having a mental disorder.

That is one in four.

Further, it has been estimated that nearly 20 percent of our children have or will suffer from a mental illness. And with the diagnoses of Autism and ADD on the rise, that number is going to increase as well.

The range of diseases and disorders that fall under the umbrella of mental illness are:

  • Anixety (agroaphobia, GAD, OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, social, specific)
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Autism
  • Eating disorders
  • Mood disorders (bipolar or manic depressive, Dysthymic disorder, Major Depressive disorder)
  • Personality disorders (any, antisocial, borderline, avoidant)
  • Schizophrenia 

Perhaps one reason that mental illnesses don't get the recognition that is deserved has to do with the negative associations. No one has robbed a bank or committed manslaughter* because he or she suffered from diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.

With any disease, there are varying degrees of severity. Yes, it is unfortunate that some that suffer severe symptoms find it necessary to be hospitalized; however, there are plenty of other people that live otherwise regular lives with proper medications and therapies.

I can say this with a bit of authority: I suffer from mental illness. Is my life any different because of it? Not really.

My actual diagnoses are Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.

My first diagnosis came when I was 19. I sought help on my own. However, it is likely that my first symptoms were prevalent in adolescence.Of course, that was the 80s and NO ONE talked about such things.

 I have been hospitalized twice. Suffered through postpartum depression after all three births of my children.
But had I not told you this, you would have never known.

The vast majority of mental illnesses are not life-threatening. However, without proper care and treatment, they all can be debilitating. This is why I want to bring some light onto an otherwise hush-hush topic. It's not the medication that I take that helps me live my day to day life; it's the support.


My husband is probably the most easy-going person you would ever want to meet. He doesn't let things bother him or dwell on the negative. Early on in our relationship, he didn't buy into the whole "illness" diagnosis. He is like many "healthy" people in that regard. Those not understanding feel that a person should just "get over it," or "snap out of it." Getting a mental illness diagnosis is not like getting diagnosed with cancer or even a broken foot. There are no tangible results one can lay hands on.

Over time, he realized that my illness is real. And while the medication (if taken properly) makes life bearable for me, it's not the medication alone that is doing the work. It is his care and understanding that makes living worthwhile.

If you suspect someone you know or love is suffering from a mental illness, offer to find help and then be a good support system.


If you are suffering and feel like all hope is lost, find a support system.

Perhaps if we can all work together to bring the stigma of mental illness out of the dark and into the light, we change someone's life.

 Don't be afraid to support awareness for Mental Illness even beyond the month of May.

For more resources, visit:
Mental Health America
National Institute for Mental Health

1 comment:

Amy said...

Back when I started taking meds (for craaaaaazy mood swings), Jesse was sweet and understanding. I'm on way more meds now....and he's kind of 'uch....whatever'. meh. :-/

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