Well Community Members Share: What We Wish Others Knew About Mental Illness

Rita, who shares below

Much is written about mental illnesses during May, Mental Health Awareness Month. Learning about these conditions is one important part of gaining awareness, but it’s not the only part. Another vital piece of awareness is listening to people who live with mental health struggles and learning about their experiences with these illnesses.

So, we asked several Well Community members what they wish others knew about mental illness. Here’s what they shared.

Others don’t need to fear us.

“Sometimes [other people] don’t want to trust me all the way. … I guess they’re scared. … Well, you don’t have to be afraid of people with mental illness.  … All you have to do is kindly approach them and talk to them.” – Rita

Mental illnesses don’t define us.

“When dealing with mental health difficulties or mental illness, not only is it a personal struggle on the inside—in your own brain you’re fighting this—but you also have a large amount of pressure and preconceived notions and what’s generally referred to as stigma about who you are based on a diagnosis. And it’s really unfair because, for myself, I have the health struggle of bipolar; I’m not bipolar. There’s a very large difference there, the distinction. Yes, I have things that I deal with on a regular basis. I have my ups—sometimes really up—and I have my downs, but that doesn’t define who I am as a person. … Just don’t pre-judge people. Get to know them for who they are and not what they’ve been told they are.” – Justin

We’re capable and worthy of respect.

“Despite living with a mental illness, I’m still human and capable. I deserve to be treated with the same respect and acceptance as anyone else. It makes me sad when people treat me as though I’m contagious or define me by my disorder. While tasks may sometimes take me longer or be more challenging, I’m still capable of accomplishing them. It just requires a little more patience and time. I’ve also been in situations where people thought I was faking or seeking attention. But the truth was, I was just struggling and needed help. It’s hard when others misunderstand, but it’s important to reach out and communicate what we truly need.” – Victoria

There’s hope for those who are struggling.

“If you know someone who’s suffering or dealing with a mental health difficulty, it can be scary; it can be overwhelming. It can also be just kind of hopeless. But there is hope. There are lots of avenues and lots of ways for that person to become stable.” – Justin

Others can help by getting to know us.

“Living with a mental illness has taught me so much about myself. And through that journey, those close to me have gained valuable insights into understanding me better. They’ve learned to recognize my triggers, understand my needs and support me in ways that truly make a difference. Through this I have been able to educate them on my mental illness.” – Rita

 

Though each person who lives with a mental illness has a unique story, these responses give a window into common experiences for those who deal with mental health conditions. One excellent way to continue learning from people experiencing mental illness is to volunteer at the Well Community! We have a wide range of opportunities for you, your family, your church or civic group to make a difference while gaining awareness and understanding. Learn more.

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