Guest Author - Carissa Vaughn
There are so many preconceived ideas about mental health these days. Lots of information available online, via the internet and through physicians and word of mouth. Addressed here are some common concerns.
#1. If my mom or dad has a mental illness, then I will get it too.
Not true! There is definitely a link found in genetic testing to certain inherited emotional states, but that is no definitive factor. The mental state of a person can be regulated and influenced by many extraneous factors. Included in this are indeed genetics, but also living environment, personality, memories, and personal experiences.
#2. No one with a serious mental illness, ie: Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder, ever gets better. Again - there have been many people overcome these problems with medications, therapy, support and/or a combination of several. There have been close friends of mine I have personally witnessed overcome many obstacles in their mental health and diagnoses to be successful individuals. It is important to remember, however, that some may choose to stop treatment, thinking that it isn't necessary, or perhaps believing they are 'cured' and no longer need the medications, in which case, many times the disorder will become worse or more prominent and harder to treat. It is an ongoing battle, but not one that is futile.
#3. Mental illness isn't real. While it is hard for some to accept the fact that the mind/brain can 'go wrong,' unfortunately it does happen and can be quite debilitating. Studies have proven chemical imbalances and inappropriate neurotransmitter firings can lead to psychosis. This includes illicit substance use, alchohol abuse and excessive hormones in the bloodstream. Hallucinations of varying degrees, violence, outbursts, bloodletting or nonsensical speech may appear. The onset of these symptoms can be scary, especially for those looking on, and should receive prompt, proper treatment.
#4. Can I trust someone with a mental illness?
A question that many have asked. This depends on many things. The stability of the individual, the familiarity and trust level one has with them, the propensity for 'episodes,' and often how one carries themself. There are definitely varying degrees of mental illness, and on top of that, different levels of fear for each person. It is impossible to gauge how every human being approaches this subject, but it would probably be worth the time to become informed. You never know what kind of wonderful person you may discover underneath the weight of such stigma!