By Valerie Rice | November 13, 2020
Alright ladies and gentlemen, we have talked about stigma, but how does mental illness affect YOU? Since I love to tell you that you are the master of your own universe, let’s see how MI infiltrates your universe. Now, before we start, please b aware that these things can be tricky and difficult to recognize and confront, so do NOT be disappointed if you have to wrestle with them. In fact, for now, let’s just recognize them.
One of the first things that a person with MI might experience is an isolation from friends and family. This is through either withdrawing from them personally or them distancing from the person. Either way, the result is the same. A person feels stranded and alone, aggravating the condition. Isolation is the enemy of healing. People with mental illness, no matter how they get there, are often alone.
This is one of the side effects that have a paralyzing consequence. When people feel helpless they can do absolutely nothing. This is mistaken by the outsider as laziness which increases stigma and shame felt by the individual. This is not your fault. Yeah, I’m talking to YOU. Imagine trying to do a 1,000 piece puzzle in the dark. Sounds fun, right? Nope. That’s what this is like. No idea where to start, or how, and maybe a stroke of luck will get you to a match or two.
Because who wouldn’t feel this way when trapped in a corner and belittled by those around them? Especially if they believe there is no hope. Additionally, they probably feel guilt because someone somewhere at sometime told them that this was their fault. Which means that they probably think they have to fix it themselves or have fallen victim to the cult of happiness.
A whole new ball of wax, my friends. Many people end up self medicating with substances which can turn into an addiction, further aggravating their initial and secondary symptoms in addition to adding new ones. Well, that’s just peachy. This, gain, is a result of people trying to hide from their true feelings or simply attempting to erase things they don’t want to feel anymore.
What this means for daily life is that it doesn’t happen. Work becomes too much, and job loss is common. Oftentimes a person will jump from job to job in a desperate attempt to maintain productivity before giving up. Housework falls to the wayside, so the cleanliness of a person’s living space is often questionable. Dishes stack up in the sink, sheets go unwashed as do bodies, floors are often sticky, and so on. It is a very different picture from that of someone without mental illness.
And, just like the rings for Captain Planet, all these things combine to create Mind Fog, the effect that makes your life pass in a blur of confusion and distraction. Time stops making sense, decisions become difficult, simple tasks are overwhelming, and sleep is just too tempting to resist. Some of this can be attributed to medication side effects, but I can almost guarantee you that it will happen without the meds too, so don’t let’s split hairs.
There it is. A basic look at the initial effects of mental illness, and I haven’t even touched on the specifics of the illnesses themselves. If this sounds particularly awful, well, it is. So if this is you, I am sorry. If this is someone you know, be empathetic and supportive. Remember, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness of some sort. It has no respect for boundaries, such as socioeconomic status. It can strike at any time, so try not to judge because you could be next and need a hand to hold. Until next time, be well.