Each year, millions of Americans face living life with a mental illness. One in five is affected by some kind of mental health condition. Not to mention that every American is somehow impacted by these invisible illnesses through friends and family. May is designated as the month to promote awareness of these health conditions.
As someone who has dealt with depression, anxiety and ADHD for many years, it’s something most of us deal with silently. We tend to hide our problems and pain behind closed doors and you may not even be aware of a friend suffering from a mental illness. If you have never dealt with it yourself, understanding what we go through can be key in knowing just how to speak to and be there for a sufferer. Your very supportive presence can help the person from being completely consumed by depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, all that is needed is for you to be there, holding us and letting us know how much we mean to you and other loved ones. It’s your listening ear that can be priceless when we are fearful or crying as we try to get through hard times.Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of... be #stigmafree Click To Tweet
During my hardest moments, just having my family and friends there to talk to and comfort me. The not judging me or feeling the need to assume they understand my upset and other emotions is big. Something like depression isn’t always explainable to a non-sufferer. I can cry for no reason at all, or feel like I can’t do regular everyday things, it means the world that a supportive loved one just tells me it’s okay. To tell me that it’s alright that I don’t want to leave the house or that all I want to do is sleep.
Just because we don’t “look” sick doesn’t mean we aren’t. Depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and other mental illnesses are invisible to most. The person may experience feeling excessively sad, prolonged feelings of anger, confused thinking as well as concentration problems, changes in eating and sleeping habits and avoid social activities. Once diagnosed, treatment can include medication, counseling, social support and education. There is no “one size fits all” treatment plan, everyone is different.
— Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. —43.8 million, or 18.5%— experiences mental illness in a given year.
— Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. —10 million, or 4.2%— experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
— 6.9% of adults in the U.S. —16 million— had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
— 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
— Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.
— Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.
My depression and anxiety issues generally stay under control thanks to medication. I regularly have check-ups with my doctor to re-evaluate and see if we need to re-adjust. For example, a couple of months ago, another minor medication taken at bedtime was added to my treatment. It has seemed to help take some more of the edge off I was experiencing at the end of last year. That said, I still go through days and times where I feel numb. Thanks to a great, loving group of family and friends, they keep an eye on any changes I have mood and behavior-wise. I’m blessed to not have experienced any extreme episodes in quite some time, and I don’t want to do anything to harm myself. It’s very important that everyone suffering from mental illness has a strong support system behind them. I am thankful for mine everyday.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness and need help, PLEASE reach out and ask. It can be and is a rough road at times, but you can get through it. Below you will find some great resources, groups that are available for assistance. You can also help those dealing with a mental illness by spreading the awareness. Use the hashtags, #mentalillnessfeelslike or #stigmafree throughout social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).