So many people are silent sufferers of mental health disorders. Having a mental illness is hard to have and harder still to prove. It’s not the same as a broken leg that can easily be seen. Sadly many people go years before given a diagnosis, having to live a life frustrated and angry at a society still struggling with understanding what mental illness looks like and how to treat it. If you have a mental illness, you often have to be your own advocate and fight to get the care you need to live your best life.
Anxiety, clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, paranoia and post traumatic stress disorder are among the illnesses that are more commonly known but not necessarily understood or often misunderstood. I’m going to focus on two of these disorders in today’s post; borderline personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.
BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER:
What People think it is:
- being manipulative
- being violent and/or dangerous
- being emotionally unstable
What it really is:
- fear of abandonment
- unstable relationships
- impulsive behaviour
- suicidal or self-harming behaviour
- unstable self-image or sense of self
- paranoid idealization, delusions or severe dissociation
- instability or mood swings
- chronic feelings of emptiness
- inappropriate intense anger
- extreme mood swings
If you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms, finding help is key to treatment. This is not something that will just go away or that you can cure by yourself. Remember, there is no shame in seeking professional help with mental illness just like there’s no shame in going to a medical doctor for a cold or broken bone. There is courage in finding help when you need it.
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER:
This disorder is more than washing your hands over and over, or compulsive counting or being a germaphobe. A compulsion becomes a disorder when it disrupts your life or causes you great anxiety that normal every day functions get lost in. If you have rituals that you need to do that you feel something bad will happen if you don’t do them, then it may be time to seek professional help. Again I want to stress that looking for help is brave and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
What not to say to someone with OCD:
- Can’t you just stop?
- You don’t look like you have OCD.
- Don’t worry. I’m kind of OCD too.
- It’s just a quirk or tic, nothing serious.
- Just stop worrying about it.
- You’re being irrational.
What you should say instead:
- Tell me how I can help.
- I’ll support you no matter what.
- I might not know how you feel but I’m here for you.
- I know you don’t want to be living like this.
- Let me know how I can support you getting better.
- It’s ok. I know it’s not your fault.
Mental Health Awareness Week took place recently, October 4th – 10th. I do not profess to be any kind of an expert on mental health issues but one thing I do know is the importance of getting diagnosed and treated so one can live a happy and fulfilling life. If you suffer from a mental illness, don’t despair. I truly believe that with hard work and lots of support, you can get better. It may be a life long battle but like with many chronic illnesses you can still live a productive and joy-filled life.
Important Facts To Know About Mental Illnesses:
- Depression is more than sadness.
- Bipolar is more than mood swings.
- BPD is more than instability.
- Schizophrenia is more than hallucinations.
- Anxiety is more than worrying.
- PTSD is more than flashbacks.
- OCD is more than being tidy.
Don’t assume you know all the facts when you don’t. The important thing to do if you know someone who suffers from one of the above illnesses is to educate yourself about their diagnosis and be a source of support in any way you are asked to be.
Inspiration and images found in this post courtesy of the following on Instagram:
Be Pretty, Plus and Proud of who you are no matter what difficulties or health crisis you may be going through. It is in the face of hardship that our bodies need more love than ever. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. Love yourself. You are always worthy. You are always enough. You are always amazing and you are always beautiful.