I realize that it is Wednesday and thus halfway through the week BUT… this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. And you all should be aware that mental illness is a real thing. The brain is an organ in your body that can actually give you an illness. If you are having problems, you aren’t just “crazy,” though I use that contentious adjective all the time to denigrate myself when I cannot deal with my anxiety disorder*. Because anxiety is a lying jerk and it needs to just shut up sometimes. Oh yeah, where was I? Mental illness. It’s a serious thing, but you are not alone if you have it. Here are some stats from the National Institute of Mental Health:
- In a given year, about a quarter of US adults are diagnosable for mental illness.
- About one-fifth of THAT population (6% of the total) are classified as severe.
- Thirteen percent of US adults are receiving some kind of mental health treatment.
Inform yourself. Be compassionate of others who may be dealing with depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, or any other mental disorder. Most of all, be patient with yourself if you find yourself exhibiting symptoms that are worrying. There are lots and lots of treatment options, though pinning down any one perfectly effective treatment is impossible because of the complexity of these issues. You and your doctor or therapist will have to try things out and follow the science as best as you can to find what works.
But most importantly, don’t give up. We are here to share our stories.
* I don’t like the words “disorder” or “illness” necessarily, either. I like to think there’s a Gaussian distribution of anxiety and that I’m about 5-sigma on the high side. Maybe 7-sigma on a bad day.