Mental health takes on all shapes and sizes, as with any kind of illness, it can come in a variety of forms. The spectrum of one’s experience can alter from manageable to debilitating. Mental illness is often something we do not see outright, like with a broken leg or the flu, so it is important that we vocalize our state of mind. Although at first it can feel difficult, more open dialogue encourages others to share their experiences.
This feature is presented in support of CAMH’s #OneBraveNight 2019.
What do you think people who don’t deal with mental health should know about mental illness? What advice can you give to those who are dealing with it for the first time?
Cleopatria Peterson, 27, Illustrator:
When you are mentally ill, it’s challenging to exist – being a marginalized person makes it even more difficult, because you have to work twice as hard to be noticed. I think people who don’t live with mental illness don’t understand that. Everything is twice as hard; your brain is working against you. People expect you to just “be well” but it isn’t that easy.
Therapy is helpful, it’s easier to talk to someone who you don’t feel you’re going to personally burden.
Mary Kitts, 55, Entrepeneur:
Living with mental illness is not a choice. Sometimes medication is involved to manage symptoms, debilitating anxiety for example. If a person has diabetes, people can understand why that person would need to take daily medication – there is an openness about it. However, when it comes to mental illness, there is a stigma behind it. No one should be made to feel inadequate for managing their illness.
The more we learn to speak of mental illness and be open, the less hardship there will be – as more people will understand they’re not alone and seek help. I think one of the hardest parts in dealing with mental health is vocalizing what you feel, and so, if you can do that, you’ve got your foot in the door and are on your way to feeling much better.
Mira Pedari, 21, Cross Disciplinary Artist:
We don’t know what someone is dealing with mentally, physically or circumstantially in their life. I think it’s important to be empathetic, kind, and patient with people as much as possible. I wish people knew that feeling debilitated because of your thoughts or something you have no control over is excruciating and it’s frustrating when all you are trying to do is be the best version of yourself.
My advice is to not judge yourself harshly, and to remind yourself that everything is temporary – bad days will come and go, so will a moment of panic or a very low feeling. Understand that although it might not feel like it, you are far from alone.
Click here for further support and resources in regards to mental health.
Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash