Recent statistics published by the Mental Health Foundation have shown that more than 450 million people in the entire world are struggling with mental illness.
And out of them, ten percent are in the United States alone. Due to an increase in stress factors and other triggers in modern society, the numbers look grimmer than ever.
The Hard Truths
Suffering from an ailment of the mind is confusing and painful, even more so than in the case of other diseases. Finding the right treatment is a journey that will take a lot of time and dedication. You need to be one hundred percent devoted to your healing and stick to what your doctor prescribed you as long as it feels like it’s working.
And even when you’ve learned to live with your mental illness, times might still get rough every now and then. While that isn’t a prerequisite, more often than not it does happen, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to be prepared. Here are the three hard truths that all survivors are faced with.
1. Reality Won’t Always Look Right
A distorted perception of reality is something that people with many different mental disorders struggle with. And while at first, you might expect your treatment to set everything straight, that most likely won’t happen, or at least not in the way that you think. The truth is that once your sense of self is turned upside down like that, it will never go back to its initial state.
For example, people who experience paranoid delusions due to schizophrenia will certainly be able to discern what is real and what isn’t after appropriate treatment, but their hallucinations might still occur. A real-life example of this is the case of John Nash, a Nobel prize-winning American mathematician who fought his disorder to the very end.
As illustrated in the biographic film A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe, although the embodiment of his hallucinations stayed with him, the turning point in his life is represented by him realizing they are just in his head. While this is not how you’d normally expect to see things, the essential thing is to cope in whatever way you can.
2. Even Loved Ones Might Judge You
According to the Mental Health Foundation, nine out of ten people struggling with a such a disorder of some kind have declared that the stigma surrounding it is affecting their lives in a harmful way. And to make matters worse, this discrimination usually comes from those you’d expect to be by your side.
Co-workers, friends, family members or even romantic partners might judge you base on your condition. Needless to say, having those closest to you mock or even reject your diagnosis is a disheartening experience for anyone. Furthermore, it might make your acceptance of your disorder harder, which can impede your treatment.
Although it will be hard, you need to understand their position and move on. They aren’t reacting like this from a place of hate but from one of fear and panic. They might not be familiar with the concepts involved, which leads them to unwillingly stigmatize you. Try to educate them, and if it’s not possible, focus on yourself and tune out all the unwanted criticism.
3. Your Negative Thoughts Will Resurface
If you’ve been treating your mental illness for a while now, then you are fully aware of the negative impact your dark thoughts have on it. And even with the most effective treatment plan prescribed by the best doctors in the world, they might still reappear every now and then. To impede them from ruining your life, you need to find their hidden power.
At first, it sounds impossible. How could your most painful realizations make you stronger? All they’ve done so far is tear you down and weaken your spirit. What you have to do to turn this around is pay attention. Learn to identify your noxious patterns and damaging mindsets. By doing this, you will soon be able to pinpoint exactly why they occur.
It might sound like an overused cliché, but knowing your enemy is indeed crucial in defeating it. However, don’t forget to not see your illness as your biggest contender, because this might deepen your spiraling back into self-loathing. Instead, teach yourself to perceive this as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement.
Surviving mental illness is complicated and there’s no denying that. But the road to acceptance and healing depends on your power to acknowledge the hard truths along this journey. You need to know that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And thus, continuing the fight becomes a prerequisite.
The first thing you will learn along the way is that you might never see reality in the ‘normal’ way ever again, and that is perfectly fine. Your true strength comes from being able to differentiate between your illness and daily life. Furthermore, you will also realize that your negative thoughts will still be there, but you won’t let them interfere.
Finally, know that your loved ones might be among those who judge you and refuse to understand your troubles. This is perhaps the most painful truth of them all, but coping with it will make even more powerful. Never give up on your emotional health and always strive to get better despite what life might throw your way.