Mind health matters because without it, peaceful living can become monumental. Many people say health is body, mind, and spirit, but rarely do people take care of their mind outside of exercising it. Body care is more than just exercise though. It is also what we eat, our illnesses, and environmental factors (what we put on it, sun, childhood). Body health is also affected by the mind’s health, so taking care of and understanding the mind is one of the biggest things we can do.
Rarely do we ever think about mental illness, except for when someone online gives it a nod with a meme, a family member is diagnosed, or a shooter goes on a rampage. There are many forms of mental illness, but only a few are well-known: PTSD, ADHD, bipolar, narcissism, psycopathy.
I recognized my grandma’s schizophrenia or the kid in class that couldn’t sit still; I recognized these things and these alone as mental illness. Granting legitimacy to the personality or anxiety disorders — it is a lot simpler to write them off that they are done on purpose, that people are just self-absorbed or difficult, people are just looking for an excuse for bad behavior. People will cite bad parenting, arrogance, or culture. This is a misunderstanding of mental illness. Mental illness is a battle of thoughts, impulse, and mood.
Mental illness is either treated or exacerbated; there is no other way it is handled. Without understanding, it is exacerbated. You can see it most often online, in friendships, and in political comments.
Many well-known figures have suffered with mental illness: Selena Gomez, Angelina Jolie, Robin Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio. In the YouTube realm: Zoella, John Green, Jaclyn Hill, Shane Dawson.
Here are other recognizable figures: Isaac Newton, Steve Jobs, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Darwin, Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Princess Diana.
So many different YouTube personalities have anxiety or depression, and people with mental illness often do become famous, achieve a great deal, or have positions of power in society, and this is due to the fact that they are eccentric, can be very studious and shut off from society, or enjoy control or attention. These things make them perfectly situated toward entertainment or leadership.
In the United States, mental illness affects more people than any other country. The top three after the US: Colombia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine.
Over 27% of US adults suffer with mental illness in any given year, and nearly 60% is not diagnosed. There are various reasons why mental illness is not diagnosed: stigma (judgment, shame, misunderstanding) and cost of therapy.
Stigma is important because it’s probably the biggest reason people don’t look for help after cost.
1. Tying illness to ineptitude. Physically handicapped and mentally ill people can do as many things as anyone else, and they often do. For the normality they don’t have, many have unusual brilliance.
It is rare to see politicians or CEOs admit to mental illness, and that is because of the types of mental illness they are usually associated with and because society’s image of mentally ill is incapable or lesser, which is a reputation they can’t afford. So they suffer, and the people under them do as well.
2. Laughing at it. We talk about stigma, but we laugh or roll our eyes at the Facebook friend raving on politics or posting depressing statuses or exhibitionist photographs; I think we all have. Especially when celebrities act out, there are so many jokes to be made.
We may share an article “How to Know if You’re Dating a Sociopath” after a breakup, which further pushes the idea that people as either good or bad, not human. Not all sociopaths are dangerous. Many narcissists aren’t terrible parents. Most ADHD people aren’t immature. By painting things as all good or all bad, it helps us to better categorize things; but the price we pay for generalizing is high.
To love is to understand, understand that people try and want the same things that we do. It is easier to make fun of than it is to comfort, but it is not right.
Nothing is all good or all bad, when dealing with humans.
3. Profiting off impulsivity and pain. Society will exploit those with weakness, without exception, for entertainment or profit. We even provoke. We make SNL skits about them. We put them on reality TV and hire them for pornography. We cover the tabloids in their distress and paranoia (recently, Angelina Jolie with her divorce). Also, marketing preys on almost all symptoms of mental illness: anxiety, impulsivity, low self-esteem, egotism. Pharmaceutical companies jump at the chance to help.
4. Not taking it seriously. We accidentally make those with it compete for attention (if not suicidal or violent, not serious enough) or present that they are doing things on purpose. Who can tell what another can control? We did not create their mind; we are not in their mind. We do not think a schizophrenic person can help their paranoia, for instance.
You cannot stop racing thoughts, paranoia/anxiety, and fear without knowing what is going on; and even after help, it depends on the day and person. The best way to help someone suffering is to get them to therapy.
It is important to know the different types and which gender they affect the most because the earlier it is recognized, the better a person’s life can become. They can set up their life in a way in which they can heal and thrive. Also, if you can recognize it throughout society, you can be patient with your spouse, people online, and people at work.
Prevent exploitation: If you don’t know your weaknesses and inadequacies, advertisers or lovers will exploit you. When you know what is normal and what is not, you can more confidently navigate through life.
Peaceful and safe living: Racing thoughts, deep attachment, fear of abandonment, and constant anxiety make living peacefully near impossible. Impulsiveness makes living safely difficult. Your family member may hurt others or themselves with their recklessness and fears of loneliness.
I cannot overemphasize mental health in regards to a peaceful life. Without taking this problem seriously, there will continue to be high rates of suicide, especially teenager and veteran, exploitation, exhibitionism, ugly divorces, and violence. We can start by caring about the mental state of our children or spouses. In almost all cases of mental illness, there are clear signs from youth, and trauma in childhood will exacerbate disorders.
Genetics, environment (upbringing), and chance. In childhood, verbal abuse, physical abuse, or neglect happen because parents are unable to to cope with their own illness or with parenting, and so parents lash out, leave, or have addictions. Living in fear or instability forces children to cope with things any way they know how, to lessen the pain.
As adults, they cope with stress the way they learned to as kids, which is usually in an unhealthy manner: violence, avoidance, recklessness, self-harm, clinginess, dramatic behavior for attention, anorexia. They pass many of these things down to their own children.
Also, things like technology can heighten insecurity and self-absorption, but technology is also a coping mechanism (one of the few) that are available to children. Taking drastic measures with children (taking all technology) is never advised, as it can lead to suicide, depression, or violence, if it really was one of their only coping mechanisms to a life they struggle with.
Telling a child they are the best in the world, especially when one parent is absent or violent, also has been shown to lead to disorders. Too much adoration and too little can have similar results. You can never love a child too much, but to always take their side, to tell them they are the most intelligent or beautiful, this is when problems arise. Prioritizing and recognizing kids for mercy and kindness means they will give it and value it in others, but prioritizing beauty and intelligence is a losing game.
To end this post, I wanted to mention the different disorders within mental illness: dissociative, anxiety, mood, psychotic, addiction, personality, and eating.
Some people have a combination of illnesses, not just one. Personality, mood, and anxiety disorders are extremely common.
The types of personality disorders:
1. odd, eccentric behavior (weird) – schizophrenia, paranoid disorders
2. dramatic, emotional, or erratic behavior (wild) – antisocial, borderline, narcissistic
3. anxious, fearful behavior (worried) – avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive
For detailed information on personality disorders, view them here.
See my post on negative and positive coping mechanisms. If you use any of these often, you should go to therapy. Again, go to find patterns, not answers. The answers that work should be personal.