The emotional counterpart of mental health

Maggie Shepeard

They say mental illness has been accepted in society, but there are many instances I’ve experienced where that’s not exactly true.

Nearly 15 million American adults are suffering from bipolar disorder, and it is a serious issue that tends to be overlooked when people are talking about mental health. It can also include an emotional component for some people.

There’s always an unmentioned nervousness of people around you when they know you’ve been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

If you have a disorder, sometimes it can start  to feel like the stigmatization is just in your head, but it’s not, and it needs to be addressed.

People who suffer from disorders like being bipolar often find the most trivial events and tasks too much to bear and life can seem like too much to handle at times. The added notion that
people are also aware of their own sickness just makes it worse.

Even so, the best way to handle the disease is encouragement—encouraging those around us to talk to us and to ask questions. A simple “how are you?”  or a “how’s it going?” with  genuine intentions from someone can go a long way.

It may be uncomfortable at first, but if you know someone, or are someone, who suffers from an emotional disorder, you must have patience, and that could take a while to learn.

Referring to someone as crazy can further make them feel isolated and defensive. Just begin the conversation lightly, and it will help alleviate any questions or concerns you might have and will make that person with a disorder more comfortable with your approach.

I lacked a proper diagnosis for my condition until I was nearly 30. This is typical, as bipolar disorder is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but I had always thought I was just tightly wound, that I was “extreme”—either extremely happy or extremely sad.

Soon after I began having anxiety and panic attacks on a regular basis, I became scared enough to go to the doctor.

Now I still take my medications every day, but my illness never goes away. Some days are better than others, and the weather can affect my moods too. When I first went to see doctors about my disorder, they put me on all sorts of medication. Then my doctor took me off everything in order to see where I was at without it. Life became hell. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stay awake. It affected my work and my daily life. I was ill and not the kind of sick that I’d ever been before.

Relapses occur when you have to take heavy medications for an emotional disorder and then you suddenly stop taking them. I’d like to say that I was only treated once for my illness, but sadly it took me several times before I was stable enough to function again.

School has been a blessing for me though because I still had to learn how to be somewhere again. It forces me to focus on something positive and healthy for myself as well as everyone.

Other than one trip to the counseling center last spring, I haven’t had any others in about three years now. I feel stable, which is so extremely important, and I also know that my
counselor is only a phone call away if I need him. Resources like that help because I’m serious about continuing my success while living with a mental illness.

A mental illness is almost like a physical illness in the sense that if you choose to go the medicinal route, you are obligated to take the medication as directed in order for it to work at its fullest
potential.

I’m lucky because I have a strong support system, and although it is essential to have positive and encouraging people around you, it is also rewarding to know that you have it in you to do it for yourself. I had a few very close friends and family members that noticed I needed help and stayed with me until I got it.

If you or someone you know thinks they’re suffering from an emotional disorder, seek help or people will continue suffering with this disorder in silence. The only way to successfully
overcome the stigma is by workingthrough it.