MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS (PART ONE)
1) People with depression are sad all the time. People with depression look like normal people. They can smile. They can laugh. They don’t cry all the time in public. Often depression will make you numb, not even necessarily sad. My depressive episodes are marked by changes in sleeping schedule, motivation, appetite. Depression does not equal sadness.
2) In bipolar disorder, mania/hypomania is the good part. True, you may not be suicidal, but often in mania/hypomania, you are very irritiable, reckless, impulsive, and do risky behaviors you wouldn’t normally do possibly endangering yourself and others.
3) PTSD only happens to soldiers. PTSD can happen to anybody who has been through trauma. This includes domestic violence victims, sexual assault victims, witnesses to violent events, etc.
4) People with eating disorders are just dieting. Often eating disorders are an effort to cope with depression, trauma, or lack of control. It often involves much more than food and weight. It may start out with a weight obsession or a dieting obsession, but it is difficult control and not voluntary like dieting. Simply forcing them to eat is not the solution.
5) People who attempt suicide/self harm are asking for attention. Very often, a suicide attempt will not be successful. Each suicide method has a different level of lethality. People who attempt suicide and people who self harm are not looking for attention and most of the time they’ll try to hide it from people. They’re looking for an escape and they’re not sure how to ask for help. Every suicide attempt and attempt to self harm should be taking seriously.
6) People with anxiety/panic attacks just need to relax. It’s easier said than done. Anxiety will blow even the littlest things out of proportion. Like most mental illnesses, anxiety does not follow the rules of logic.
7) People with schizophrenia are violent. There are different kinds of schizophrenia and not all schizophrenics are violent.
8) People with mental illness or people who have been hospitalized are crazy and I should stay away from them. They are not a bad influence. They are not crazy. Would you discriminate if it was a medical illness? It’s much easier to judge than it is to understand. Mental illnesses are not contagious.
9) I don’t want to be friends/in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness. It’s so much baggage. A mental illness should not be a dealbreaker in your friendship/relationship with someone. Just like a medical illness would not be. It just makes them different, and like all differences, you will learn to accept it.”