When someone tells you that he/she has high blood pressure or diabetes, how’d you react? Chances are you would start sharing the experiences or methods of how your relatives or even you are coping and managing it. But what happens if someone tells you that he/she is depressed? Or anxious? Or sharing the symptoms of mental illness that needs immediate attention? We might not respond to it like how we would respond to a physical illness, but why?
The myths attached to mental illnesses are like the stubborn stain on a shirt; it will go off eventually but it will need sheer hard work of scrubbing with the help of a powerful detergent to remove the stain faster. Likewise, numerous awareness campaigns which serve as a powerful detergent to debunk the misconceptions on mental illness are being held extensively to reach the public. It’s about time to drop all of the false impressions on mental illness and to embrace the reality that surrounds it.
But first, let’s just go through the three common myths about mental illnesses.
So let’s start with # 3
#3 One chooses to have “mental illness”
“You are depressed because you want to be”.
“If you try harder, you can come out of it”.
The reality is not as easy as reflected by the statements above. Truthfully, no one would want to have something so intense that disrupts their daily life. There are many factors to why some people have certain types of mental health issues, and many of these leave people feeling helpless and defenseless.
#2 Only old people suffer from mental illness
The fact is anyone can get mental health issues as long you have mind and not managing your stress well. According to *National Health and Morbidity survey, 20% (one million) of children in Malaysia aged 5 to 16 suffer from mental health problems.
And lastly # 1…
#1 People with mental illness are CRAZY.
We do not call them “crazy”, “nutcase” or any derogatory term that degrades a human being’s suffering from mental illnesses. It is like calling a person with paper cut a physically disabled person. Well, there are levels of severity of mental illness in a person; however, there are hopes for them as increasing number of researches and awareness are brought upon to improve this condition.
To conclude, Julian Seifter once said: “You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle.” This isn’t a competition but a courageous and vulnerable battle. Anyone who is involved is a warrior!
*(Source: National Health and Morbidity Study, 2011)
Written by: Sabeena Maureen
Sabeena is a Psychology major who can’t read people’s mind.
And she thinks her life would be incomplete without books, movies, and hip hop music.