Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
When we start getting symptoms of a cold, our nose starts running, our throat gets sore, normally we don’t hesitate to take some medicine or visit a doctor. However, when we are unable to set aside our worries or that agonizing sense of hopelessness, we tend to try and push ourselves along as though nothing is wrong. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Afraid. Nothing worth worrying about… there are many reasons why people hesitate to talk to someone about their struggles. I get it, I experienced the same feelings when things started to go downhill for me. The stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents people from seeking treatment. It’s true, I rejected the fact that I had a problem until it became a big problem. I didn’t want to accept society’s label that marked me for social rejection or negative stereotypes.
Roughly one in four adults suffers from a diagnose-able mental disorder, yet less than half of these people receive treatment. Three out of four people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma. Just look at the definition of stigma: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease. But stigma is not just a word, it is a toxic combination of ignorance and fear that continues to have an evident and significant impact on the lives of thousands of people. Let me just highlight the word ignorance. Look at the fact that one in four people are suffering from mental illness. That is a significant number of people. Consider that one out of four of the people that we all know are affected by mental illness. That being said, we are all affected by mental illness in some way. So why should we feel as if we are marked with a defect? Why don’t we just own it? If everyone stopped trying to hide it and started talking about it, the stigma would clear. This is exactly why I have chosen to step forward and share my story. I want to encourage others to seek help and remember that they are not alone.
Just as physical health problems can lead to mental distress, mental health disorders can impair physical health. Mental illness is a real illness, just like cancer or diabetes. The comparison between depression and cancer is actually a common one. Would you make someone feel like a lesser person because they were suffering from cancer? Most likely not. You see them suffering from something beyond their control and you would probably have empathy and offer support. Why should your response be any different to mental illness? People that are mentally ill are not choosing to be. Trust me, you wouldn’t choose it. When I was struggling to reach a diagnosis for my mental illness, my psychiatrist suggested we explore the idea of getting a brain scan to make sure there was not a tumor on my pituitary gland. He had another patient with similar issues to mine that were being caused by a pituitary gland tumor. They removed the tumor and she was better, just like that. I’ll be honest, I started hoping I had a brain tumor. I know, crazy.. but the thought of a simple fix was so appealing at that point.
My point is- Your brain controls your body and houses your mind. Take care of your mind! At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with seeking help if you need it. You may be surprised by how powerful the results will be. Improving how we think or feel is just as important as working on our bodies, after all, your mind and body are connected.