Mental illness takes many shapes and forms and dealing with it is never straight forward. For those suffering from a mental illness there can be issues such as coming to terms with and accepting a particular condition while getting the help and support they need. For those friends and family helping someone deal with a mental illness there can be the problem of convincing someone you love to get help, making sure they stay safe and trying to guide them towards a full and healthy recovery.
Whether you have a problem with depression, anxiety or some other mental health issue, getting an accurate diagnosis is key. Medical professionals can get it wrong as many illnesses have similar symptoms. For example, bipolar disorder can very often be diagnosed as simple depression initially. It can take time for a proper diagnosis to be reached which can be frustrating for all concerned. Keeping track of behaviour and issues that arise out of an illness can help give doctors and other health professionals a clearer insight into what is going on.
Coping with a Diagnosis
A diagnosis can be a relief for someone who is suffering from a mental illness but it can also be emotionally traumatic. Unfortunately, we all too often put a certain amount of stigma on most mental health conditions. You should be clear though that mental illness is not a personal choice – it is just as likely to happen to anyone as a physical health problem or disability.
If you have been diagnosed with something like depression, anxiety disorder or schizophrenia, you are going to need support and part of coping comes with accepting that you have this condition and that you are going to do something about it. That’s not easy for many people but thankfully there is information and a support network out there for most mental health conditions that can be a big help.
Supporting Someone with Mental Illness
Helping someone with a mental illness is by no means easy. You will have to show a lot of patience and understanding. You might have to educate yourself and other members of the family about a particular condition and work to make sure that the person affected is getting the support and treatment they need. You will need to have realistic expectations and researching the mental illness as much as possible can allow you to have a more focussed approach when dealing with your loved one. There will be important decisions to make such as how much of your time you can give them and who is going to make the major decisions about their treatment.
Getting Support for Mental Illness
Dealing with a mental illness cannot be done in a vacuum. There is plenty of support out there and you need to take advantage of it, whether you are suffering from a mental health problem yourself or are helping someone overcome a particular condition. Most local areas will have support groups that you can join and get to know people who are going or have gone through a similar experience and this is invaluable.
Support groups will have additional information and great hints and tips about how to survive mental illness and you’ll appreciate the assistance they can give. It can sometimes be difficult to gain the confidence of someone with a mental illness, even if you’ve known them for a long while. A support group will give you the confidence to connect and engage on a slightly different level to the one you have been used to over the years.
Most mental health professionals will tell you that remaining physically healthy during these times is important for both the sufferer and the carer. That means making sure you eat properly (even if you don’t feel like it) and you avoid potentially harmful substances such as alcohol and un-prescribed drugs. Exercising can be great for conditions such as depression while taking up a practice like mindfulness meditation can help with a variety of mental health issues.
Mental illness is not insurmountable. There will be hurdles to get over and problems to face but with the right support and treatment most people make a full recovery and go on to lead active and healthy lives.