*Note: I am not a therapist, I don't begin to know everything about mental illness, I am just writing this from my angle, someone whom has been through a lot, I just would like to share a wee portion of my insight on suffering from mental illness…
I don't think you ever 'get over' Mental Illness, I think there comes a time where you are able to say "I'm ok with this issue". To work through it again and again lets you gain control once again, to feel ok with it, that you have moved through the worst of it all. But to do that you must feel all the pain time and time again, to realise that you now have the understanding of yourself and what you think and feel, to control the urges, to control the fear, terror, the pain, the sorrow. To say to countless flashbacks, images, memories, nightmares, voices, that you are OK, that they will not control YOU. But for a time they probably will, until you master the way to triumph. I think also, even though it is painful when someone 'falls', if that person chooses to stand up again, just shows how strong he or she really is. Yes it is difficult to realise you are strong; to admit it to yourself, let alone others. Because during those bad times, you feel so very weak, you feel you have no control, and are completely and utterly overwhelmed.
It's sometimes said, you can't really understand how it really feels unless you have been through it all yourself, or for you to listen to someone's story compassionately. People can have compassion, but sometimes this is not enough, acknowledgment is the most important of it all, to acknowledge someone's pain and anguish is respecting them, is showing that you genuinely care about what they are saying, not judging them for the way they react to their trauma and pain, and realising that this is them, period.
People also have to realise that just because someone is different from them, or they see things differently other than the 'norm', they are not wrong, they are just different, accept them for who they are. What ever you do don't use the particular term 'get over it', this is like saying "your feelings do not matter", "it is not important". This might seem 'silly' to some, but even saying "cheer up" is dismissing what that person is really feeling, I think if someone was able to "cheer up", "snap out of it", "get over it", don't you think they would be doing it? I don't think anyone can benefit from just ' getting over it'. It's so negative, to anyone. People have to realise a 'rational' way of thinking doesn't come into it, when you are in the darkest of dark, irrational thinking becomes a 'learned behaviour'. Just like someone's attitude in 'get over it'. Of course the learned behaviours can be undone, with a lot of hard work by the individual, together with compassion and understanding. Besides no matter how anyone deals with things, irrational or not, that is their strategy, who is it for us to judge that person solely how they have been taught or learnt to respond? We get taught things from day one, how to act, how to talk, how to do this, and to do that, we change due to the environment we are in, we are moulded from childbirth. Society teaches negativity very well, a learned behaviour, to change this we have to teach positivism, respect for others feelings, and accepting individuals for who they are.
I talk about judgement here because it is so common for people to jump to conclusions, to make assumptions with mental illness, it is so misunderstood, all we ask is for you to know the facts before you jump, that goes for everyone. Actually don't jump at all, ask questions, never demand, it is hard to describe, even painful, but for most of us we only want to try for someone to understand, and with time and effort, who knows what could be accomplished!
Human behaviour can be so damaging, but if people wouldn't judge someone just because their views are different, the world would be a much better place. Wishful thinking! When someone is judging a person, (people with mental illness are more aware of this happening because society can place them under constant scrutiny), the people criticising or judging are normally putting their own stresses on someone else, making someone else be emotionally responsible for what is going on in their lives, this isn't fair, on anyone. When you judge or criticise someone, you create negative consequences for yourself therefore you act unjust, in an unfair way not only to yourself but also to the others involved. There is always a trigger, but trying to change someone else just mirror's what you feel yourself. Yes everyone judges someone to a certain level, but people suffering from mental illness are more likely to notice someone judging them, whether it is warranted or not. Mentally ill clients tend to feel more responsible for their own pain, and sometimes everyone else's. In fact, most blame themselves, when actual fact, most of the time it is not their fault. It seems with most negative emotions it always leads to how that person is feeling not that "someone did this, someone did that", it is how 'that' person him/herself is really feeling, how that person shows themselves to the world, and to make up for what they are truly feeling inside, which is pain, they might blame others, judge others, criticise others…reasons which are so very personal to that particular person. All in all it is painful for everyone.
Along with other strong emotions, in which I have just mentioned 'anger can also be damaging in mental illnesses, but also with everyone else, from whatever level, 'anger' stems from HURT, FEAR, and or FRUSTRATION, the person that is so angry feels like a 'victim- its not about you, its about them and how they really feel. But not to release it, to feel its force, to find the trigger, you cannot set it free. It takes a stronger person to accept and deal with anger than to rant and rave and fight. It also takes so much strength to realise this, because if you stay angry, if this is all you know, then you will end up poisoning yourself and everything around you. You don't have to forgive, just let go of the offence. With mental illness, you are the victim until you can work through it all, and triumph in understanding yourself better, and eventually you will not only feel, but you will be OK.
It is often difficult to cope with mental illness if you don't get or have the necessary support from the closest people to you often through ignorance they don't understand. Either they really just don't have enough or the proper information (who better to ask than the person whom is actually suffering from it all). But also there is arrogance, where people just don't want to understand, either caught up in their own turmoil, or actually just choose not wanting to know, all of which hurts. But only the person whom suffers from the illness/es can really clarify the situation, to explain or at least try to explain what they are going through. That's the decent thing to do, ask the person concerned don't just assume.
Being mentally ill can be a life sentence, it's hell, (lack of a better description) but with the right help, compassion, and understanding and of course most importantly ACKNOWLEDGMENT from those close to you and the mental health area, you can begin to lead a relatively normal life, well normal for you. What's normal anyway? Sure there will be bad days, but hopefully one day, your bad days will be like your old good days. People have to realise how hard it really is to live with these constant demons, this daily hell. I think mine will be always there; it's just the way I handle them. That is the most important. I think once you understand what is happening to you, you begin to see a whole picture, hazy at first but it becomes clearer, when your life becomes value to YOU.
We look in the mirror and see a demon, we feel the demon, we live it, like a slow death we die from the hate, the pain, the terror, the sorrow, the hurt, the anger; our soul twists and screams from every hurt, we live in a constant heightened state of nervousness, paranoia, frustration, hurt and often despair, basically all of the above. You feel completely overwhelmed and out of control, you can't see the rational ways to deal with things, the irrational reasoning creeps into your thoughts, it clouds your vision and like a horrid monster it takes over, and you become lost yet again. Not a pretty picture, but the way we see ourselves is usually not the way we show the world, we try so damn hard to hide it all, to appear 'normal'. People hide behind masks, we all do it, from all walks of life, but eventually the mask fails.
That's what I have tried to do for so long, at first no one did notice, but then at one stage no one cared either. Then suddenly, not to my knowledge until later, people did notice. They didn't know what they were noticing, but they knew something was not right. And I continued on with the charade, trying to block it out, succumbing to society's reaction to 'get over it' because I could not bear for people to know how bad I really felt, thinking they would all hate me and disregard me like what most of my life has been like. How much hate I had for me, everything I felt, was terrorising me to the point I did not know me anymore.
I was and sometimes still so confused, I would look in the mirror and see only a shadow of me, who am I? Where am I? Why am I here? But to those who know what it is like, we have an affinity with them. With some it's like you have radar, I have found at some of my low days, I was able to help people, sometimes it makes you take a step out of yourself. To hopefully give them insight to what maybe they are feeling, only to a certain degree, I don't begin to know them and they likewise to me. Because I have felt what they have felt, I have felt the despair, worthlessness, and the confusion. It is natural for me to want to help them; I guess it is my calling. Because all my own life I have wanted the same help, someone to reach out. Everyone does. And I want to be that person who can help, because I know I have something to offer. Acknowledgment and compassion for a start. I just have to remember to leave time for me!
People get lost amongst their mental illness/s; they feel they cannot find their way, like you are at crossroads all the time, which way do you go? A big murky haze, to sufferers we call it the 'darkness' because we forget the 'light' is there. And at our darkest moments, we don't believe it is there. We lose sight of the hope. Our thoughts and feelings work together so viscously in this, that they can poison us beyond meaning. What's the antidote? Compassion? Understanding? Acknowledgment? Respect? Love? Most people want this anyway, but it is especially important in the lives of someone whom is suffering from mental/emotional illness.
Have you heard of the saying; you have to get worse before you get better?
I think it is true in emotional/mental illness; you do get worse before you begin to get better. And it is hell on earth. Every twist and turn is sheer hell.
No matter what someone suffers from whether it to be Depression, PTSD, or more extreme as other psychiatric disorders which I also suffer from, whether you are in and out of hospital care or not, no one is competing. Because everyone suffers: some have more hardships to work through. Unfortunately for most mentally/emotionally ill clients it is a lot. But even one issue is a lot to deal with. Most did not have a supportive upbringing, although this is generalising. You see so many come from torn backgrounds with no real stable family unit - I myself, am one of those. I grew up within a family lacking the support and growth needed for my adulthood, and today I suffer. It is so very common and sad. And it hurts. Especially when you see other families get on so well with one another. Every one has issues, its what we do with them that are different. When someone has not had the supportive background, especially in childhood and growing up, they don't have the necessary 'adult coping skills needed to deal with the pain that keeps arising. That's the difference, like their education has been stamped out, so they are left with the scar tissue not healing.
I once got an idea from a therapist I saw and I wrote a story about a bird with a broken wing. Saying if you were to send the bird out into the world without it's wing been properly cared for and the appropriate time taken for the wound to heal, you will have a bird that has a major disabling injury and in the end the bird will not be able to fly again, or you can send a bird back into the world after the appropriate compassionate healing time and that bird will fly higher than ever before… which one would you choose?
I have to say it is also so true in mental illness.
Can mentally ill clients ever be happy? Of course we can, we deserve happiness just like everyone else, we deserve to be respected and treated fairly like everyone else, and most importantly we deserve compassion and understanding like everyone else. We are just as much part of society as the next person, just because we see the picture in a different colour to you doesn't mean we are less of a person. We are all individuals placed on this earth for a reason, and one day each of us finds out that special reasoning why we are all here. I believe that for all that someone suffers, there is something wonderful installed for that person, and it is up to you as individuals to take the challenge or not. I also believe in 'as you sow, you shall reap' what you give the world you get back, the law of karma. If you treat someone with the dignity and respect they deserve then one day someone will do unto you as them. Treat people, as you want to be treated.
Now the bottom line is I will be OK, feeling all the pain until one day I can move on from that particular issue, but no one can go jumping into all the issues at once, each pain must be given the appropriate healing. And time and compassion, patience and pure healing are needed for me to be able to fly again. And I will fly. Fly higher than ever before.
"Living is more than breathing…it's seeing, it's feeling, its embracing"