Gentle Mental Annie is a blog that has a bit if this and that, but focuses on mental illness. I want to create awareness that people with mental illness need to be treated like people and that the stigma about mental illness can be unfair and leave us at more of a disadvantage than we already are in.
People with mental illness are unique, individual humans. There many types and many levels of mental illness. Many of us would have been “normal” had it not been for mental abuse, physical abuse or other ongoing abuse during childhood.
Others of us have mental disorders from traumatic experiences. Mental illness does not mean “Crazy” and it does not mean “Dangerous.”
It is true that there are dangerous people in the world, but there are far more people with mental disorders of some kind, than there are dangerous people in the world..
There are only a few types of mental disorders which can lead the sufferers to become dangerous to other people. These disorders, are not common and people with these disorders are not always dangerous to other people.
People with depression, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, C-PTSD and other types of mental illnesses suffer from types of mental torment, which cause us problems in our own lives. Some of us may inflict self harm at times, but we are not in any way harmful to other people.
We are in just as much danger from the dangerous, predators of the world as “normal” people, if not more. Predators like to target people that are already having mental suffering. It makes them feel good to inflict pain upon people that are already in pain.
We often feel out of place, misunderstood and handicapped about competing in the work world in the world in general. Most of us are perfectly capable of working and also of being loyal, wonderful friends. Some people with mental illness have trouble working for various reason, but it is not out of laziness or a desire to manipulate the system.
Mental illness affects the brain in an actual organic way. In this way, mental illness is a physical disorder just as much as physical disabilities are. People in wheelchairs are given support and extra help to function, but people with mental illness are usually not.
Whereas people with physical disabilities are often open to be able to discuss their limitations and ask for what kind of support they need, many people with mental illness are afraid of the being judged and misunderstood.
Due to the stigma of mental disorders, many people do not seek help, for fear that a record of the diagnosis would ruin them. We often fear for our jobs and fear other types of discrimination. There are suicides each year that could have been prevented, if the people would have not been afraid to receive a diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness.
There is a fear of us losing our job, and having people treat us in ways that are condescending, fearful, critical and judgemental. Once people know you have a mental illness, often they see you differently. There is no going back in time and taking back the fact that they know.
Many people think that mental illness is something that you can just “get over” and that it is all in the person’s head.
Well, it is in the head, but there are neurological and chemical differences in people with different types of mental illness. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder looks one way in the brain. Depression looks another way in the brain. The brains of people with these disorders do not work in the way the brain was designed to work.
PTSD for example has an overactive amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. The person can become triggered by reminders of their original trauma and the amygdala goes into hyper alert mode. This is not in control of the person and they cannot just turn it off.
The overload of fear chemicals and the amygdala in the “on” position, causes the person to go into a “fight or flight” mode. During an episode the person feels just like you would if there were a giant, scary dog cornering you and growling in a threatening way to you.
Just because you cannot see mental illness does not mean that it is not real. If you suffer from mental illness you are aware of the frustration of the lack of empathy about this problem
The more we make a place for ourselves in the world, the better off we will be. My blog to create awareness and it is also to be a support system.
I try to write posts that are informative and helpful. I try to write in a way that extends empathy and compassion to people with mental disorder like depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.
Many of us have suffered abuse which we may or may not be aware is the root cause of our mental illness. Many of us have also suffered trauma and retraumatization as adults. Some of this had been because we were easy targets for predators.
Some of us have experienced retraumatization at the hands of therapists and counselors. It is always a risk to place your brain into the hands of another person, who claims to know how to help you.
I feel that blogging can be an additional therapy to any treatment plan you are in. Blogging opens up a world of expression and interactions with people who can understand how you feel…sometimes better than the therapist actually understands how you feel.
We all need to be heard and validated. We need to accepted for who we are…at least by some people.
Abnormality is defined as a deviation from the accepted thoughts, emotions and behaviour
What is ‘normal’ ? It is an invented idea related to conformity.
Conformity to the status quo and the manners and behaviors that the vast majority are comfortable with. Saying “fine” when someone asks how you are, is the accepted behavior.
Following the rules at a workplace, even when there is an obvious , glaring exception to the rule, staring you in the face.
Going along with our plans and our schedules like drones , without thinking about what we are doing. That is the status quo. That is conformity.That is a lack of creativity and individuality.
When people all follow what someone else thinks, no one thinks at all. Who is making the social norms? The people at the top who are benefitting from it. All the drones underneath have the impression that they are the ones that benefit but it is not true.
Loss of humanity and individual thinking. Taking each individual situation for what it is and thinking and and making and intelligent , thoughtful plan of action. This is all lost in the confusion and the illusion or orderliness.
People have the impression that the status quo rules are neat and orderly. They think that they like the rules ans that the Normal accepted behaviors and reactions are going to keep them safe and protect them.
if this is true, then why is suicide on the rise and mental illness more and more prevalent in society?
Maybe mental illness is caused by the infliction of an untrue reality upon independent thinkers. The forcing of a reality that someone created and is telling us is safe. But when we see that it is not true and it is unsafe for us, we are seen as abnormal people. The ones who do not fit in.
This results in isolation and alienation. We can see what the reality is. But they tell us we are not conforming to their thoughts and their reality.
People that have survived, or their children have survived sexual abuse, are expected to attend holiday functions with the offending family members. They are expected to sit there are pretend nothing ever happened. Ot to pretend that the abuser is rehabilitated and no longer a threat.
Women living with abusive men are told that things are not as bad as they think. People think they are exaggerating and the “poor guy” is just venting from a hard day.You should be thankful that he works so hard to support you. How do they know how the guy is supporting you? They don’t even know if he shares any of his money with you. Why do they assume?
Even family members sometimes support the abuser and treat the victim as though she is in some alternate abnormal reality. You have to be a better wife, a better girlfriend. Maybe he would be a better man if you were more supportive. It must be you… Crap! Crap! BS!
I have always been supportive in relationships. Begging someone not to leave you and a child with no money in the bank account and no food in the fridge, so they can go to live in another state with friends to “find themselves” and their “Purpose” and a job, is crap. Why should you suffer with no food and no money, to be supportive of someone who does not want to work. Someone who leaves you stuck with his parents, because he can’t stand living with them anymore.
When our feelings do not match what the others tell us to feel, we become mentally ill. Our brain suffers because it tries to hold onto the actual reality while other people are messing with it.
“What is Stigma?
· An attempt to label a particular group of people as less worthy of respect than others
· A mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval that results in discrimination
· Not just a matter of using the wrong word or action – its about disrespect”
quote from NAMI multicultural action center web site
People with mental health issues sometimes have to put off receiving needed treatment, due to stigma in our culture. Once they are diagnosed with a mental illness, people have to live with the consequences. There are potential consequences in regards to employment, insurance and education.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. According to the Department of Labor web site ,The Disabilities Act protects disabled persons in the following ways…
“prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. “
Interestingly, when I went to the Disability,gov web site and typed in Mental health, there was no information on the entire web site. It just gave me a list of links to non-government web sites like Mental Health America and National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The same thing happened when I typed in Mental Illness. Just a list of links to non-profit organizations not affiliated with the government. Here are the links below.
The disabilities act may protect people with physical disabilities, but it does very little to protect people with mental illnesses like depression, PTSD, severe anxiety disorders, OCD, and bipolar disorder.
People that have been diagnosed with mental illnesses are discriminated against on a regular basis. They are discriminated against in the workplace and when seeking employment.
The employers will get around it by fabricating reasons not to hire someone. They cannot fire someone for having a disability but they can make up another reason.
The stigma of people with bipolar disorder is that they are unpredictable and possibly dangerous. This is very sad since the friends I have that suffer from bipolar are the gentlest people I know. They are kind and understanding. They go above and beyond at their jobs to make sure everything is done properly and fully.
People with clinical depression and bipolar disorder are discriminated against for life insurance because they are perceived as a suicide risk. The funny thing is that life insurance does not ever cover suicide anyway!
People with diagnosis for anxiety disorders, bipolar and depression are sometimes discriminated against by colleges. If the college finds out that you have a diagnosis with a mental illness they do not want to risk their precious reputation on you. You might do something to ’embarrass them”
They also do not have confidence that you will be able to handle the course load. I know people with mental illnesses that attend college and work harder than many other students. They know what disabilities they have and they work hard to succeed in spite of their condition.
Mental illness is stigmatized in the media and in the movies. When friends find out that someone has mental illness they sometimes assume it is like what they see on tv.
They are afraid of being embarrassed and are afraid the person may suddenly do something unstable, They may perceive their friend differently even to the point of being afraid of them. This is all due to stigma.
People are all individuals. People with mental illness are also individuals. No two people with bipolar disorder are the same. They are unique individuals that you have to get to know to find out what they are like.
Nevertheless, a diagnosis of a mental illness can cause discrimination and a loss of opportunities. It can cause problems socially and with our career. Once people find out you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, they see you differently, even though you are the same person you were before the diagnosis.
The fear of the stigma keeps many people from seeking the help they need. It is understandable that people feel afraid.
The fact is that 1 in 5 people has a mental illness of some kind. Of the mental illnesses that are diagnosable only one- third seeks medical treatment which could help them.
The failure to seek help for a mental illness can lead to deterioration of quality of life and in some cases suicide.
Stigma about mental illness is a huge problem in America. As long as it is not dealt with, people will continue to suffer. Many of these people would be an asset to employers, schools and friends, if given the opportunity.
As a result of the continued stigma, people with mental illness often have a lower quality of life and a lower income potential than they should have.
There needs to be more awareness of this important issue. It is unfair discrimination in an age where almost everyone else is protected by discrimination laws.