With the onslaught of the Great Recession, it seems that the prevalence rates of mental illness have risen over the past decade or so. Or maybe the awareness surrounding it has increased. A lot of fellow bloggers seem to know what mental illness is and what it’s like to live with one (or more) of the following conditions: Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, BPD, OCD, Bipolar, Autism, PTSD, or any of the other 289 Disorders listed in the DSM-V.
What nobody seems to talk about (at least not in the blogosphere) is that there are different levels of severity and intensity in having a mental illness. Sure, a lot of the manifesting symptoms may be similar in multiple patients, but one person may be suffering a lot more than another.
I feel like it’s important to mention this because knowledge is power. The power to get better. Knowledge also leads to awareness, which is ultimately necessary to curb the afflictions you may find yourself in, in my humble opinion.
In relation to the topic at hand, knowing that there are varying levels of mental illness can aid you in the recovery or healing process. When you become aware of how severely you’re drowning in pain, sorrow, sadness or any emotional discomfort – that’s when you realize at which stage of health or illness you’re at.
Speaking personally, I’ve had an episode of chronic depression (in 2012) which lasted for almost an entire year; with recurrent nightmares, constant self-critical negative and suicidal thoughts, total isolation from everyone I knew, lethargic behavior and excessive sleep.
While nowadays, it’s a lot better in retrospect. I’m fairly active, have a healthy lifestyle, stay in touch with friends and family, and generally feel pretty good about myself and life. Occasionally, I still do get bouts of mild depression, along with spikes in anxiety (especially in social situations) and it’s likely that I may have PTSD. But overall, I know first hand that there are progressive stages in how we’re able to deal with life’s problems and our own personal distress.
As for the million dollar question: How do I/you/we get better?
Well, the common answers would be: Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, sports, psychiatric medications, therapy, spiritual beliefs, getting out of your comfort zone, and anything else you may read in self-help or psychology articles/books.
The real answer is probably something else: you have to want to get better. You have to make it happen. It’s a very hard thing to hear and it sucks when someone tells you this, but there’s almost certainly an inkling of truth in it.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to do it alone, far from it. I’ve witnessed how people love to help one another and there are a lot of compassionate people in this world, far more than we like to believe. One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi:
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Especially the WordPress community. Which is like super-friendly for the most part and very supportive of each other, so thank you all for being so great.
Just to conclude, my older brother used to say how “we all have [mental] problems”. While this seems to be true, I like to believe that “for every problem, there is a solution”. We all have some level of discomfort, uneasiness and potential illness within our lives; whether it affects us directly or someone we care about. The important thing is to keep on going, no matter what. To hang in there when darkness shows its face. To break free from the chains which anxiety tries to lock us in. To know that healing is possible. And ultimately, to live a life worth living. With love.