It Gets Better, or, Why You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Care About Mental Health

Sid, who is one of my dearest friends/long distance workout buddies (and who also has been a monitor for me over the last year), has written a post answering my call for people to write about mental illness.

She nails it.

I met JT personally when I signed up for the WWJTD workout team. This has resulted in one of my life’s most rewarding friendships, a friendship that is also a ticket to a ring-side seat to the circus that is anorexia.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t hurt to reach out, even if you are not sure you will know what to say, or if you think what you say might not matter.

I’ve more and more come to realize how the distinction between mental and physical health is not real. The brain is an organ, just like any other organ in the body. It has physical needs, such as sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. It falls vulnerable to stress, pathogens, and physiological malfunctions. As Jen McCreight said, “If we don’t mock people for being deficient in insulin, we shouldn’t mock them for being deficient in serotonin.” The health of the brain affects the health of the rest of the body just as surely as the liver or the heart does. Study after study after study have shown that depression and psychological stress increase rates of chronic illness and death. The times anxiety attacks grip JT, he looks physically ill.

I’ve also learned, from JT’s account and others, that there is a difference between the moods and personality quirks that everyone lives with and actual mental illness. It isn’t that uncommon to feel ugly, to make a social faux pax, to worry that people won’t like you, or to feel sad or worthless. What isn’t normal, though, is for these feelings not to go away, to obsess, to hallucinate, to be crushed by one’s brain to the point of not being able to function.

Head over to her blog and read the whole thing.  It is informative, touching, and honest.  Give it a read and throw her some kudos/support.

  • astrosmash

    ” What isn’t normal, though, is for these feelings not to go away, to obsess, to hallucinate, to be crushed by one’s brain to the point of not being able to function.”

    especially when those feelings of being ugly and unwanted are demostrably wrong.

    sigh…

  • http://modernbardtales.blogspot.com/ Jessie

    Thank you for addressing mental health! A few of my family members have mental illnesses, I also do, and I feel that our society has not been conditioned to be tolerant or conscious of mental illness. Media programming bombards us with the message that if we have a headache we should take a painkiller, but we do not receive the same message that it is “normal” to take anti-depressants or anxiety relievers when we suffer from chronic mental illness.

    This resonated deeply with me “there is a difference between the moods and personality quirks that everyone lives with and actual mental illness…What isn’t normal, though, is for these feelings not to go away… to be crushed by one’s brain to the point of not being able to function.” I feel like a deeper, unrealized, statement you have made is that healthy-minded people may feel that way, but do not experience the dread, the impending doom, of recurring anxiety, depression, etc; they do not feel the need to anxiously anticipate every situation that may provoke their illness. Thank you for leading me to this realization, which has been crucial in more effectively identifying with my own mental health problems. You have just inspired me to address some of these things on my own blog, rather than continuing to commandeer your comment board.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1583067300 alisonmeyer

    I make it a point to tell as many people as possible about my ADHD (and sometimes about my depression) so that they KNOW it’s not made up, they SEE that I don’t act the way they think a stereotypical ADDer acts, and they LEARN that there’s more to it than the observable behavioral symptoms. I know that I’ve helped a lot of people, and it just makes it easier to do it each time. If you can put a face on a mental illness for other people to see, then it makes it harder for them to pass judgment on it or on people who have it. (Same thing with my atheism, but I’m in a unique position where honesty has no devastating repercussions. . .)


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