Talking to my husband, who is not a "talker", I had to ask...."What do you think of me having a mental illness?" His response, "I don't really think of you as having a mental illness." Hum...But I go to a psychiatrist and I have taken meds for the past, uh, 20 odd years....But he doesn't see me as having a mental illness? He doesn't see my panic attacks as a mental illness, my obsessive thinking that plagues my every move, my blatant social anxiety, not liking to have friends, not liking to put myself out there, anywhere....it's just me?? He sees it as me just being me? How can this be. Maybe I need to look up the official definition of mental illness, something I honestly have never done in all the time I have suffered...
Jeeze...no wonder I have never looked it up...there are a million different definitions! Here is one from the freedictionary.com:
Mental illness, n : Any of various conditions characterized by impairment of an individual's normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma. Also called emotional illness, mental disease, mental disorder.
Or another from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder.
Psychological? Biochemical? Genetic? Infection or head trauma? Good Lord, there's a run of the gambit. Yes, I knew it could be psychological, yes, I knew it could be Biochemical, and even genetic....but infection or head trauma? Wouldn't that be a sucky way to get "blessed" with such a condition! I think I fall into the Biochemical, genetic category. Not that anyone else in my families history ever went to a doctor for a psych problem before me. But we are talking about a medical field who some might say is still in it's infancy.
My dad always called any therapist or psychologist a "Shrink." No way he was going to go let someone pick his brain! But yet he has suffered obvious self esteem issues and been (in my opinion) a "self medicating" person. My mom might have been considered OCD by some. Keeping a spotless house, and she was always a self proclaimed "worrier". All my grandparents self medicated with alcohol...all 4 of them! But it was just a normal round of drinks each night, that they would be damned if they would ever miss!
So how would I know if I had a genetic predisposition to mental illness when no one in my past has even ever admitted to anything "mental"? Why do they see my illness as something that needs to be treated, but do not see their own needs?
Wow, I am now more confused than ever. And honestly I thought my mental illnesses were "normal" mental illnesses. LOL But the NAMI defines them as "serious". I have serious mental illness. I see a psychiatrist and I take medications. I will probably do this the rest of my life. But for some reason, I and others don't take this as serious as a physical illness, like diabetes or arthritis. How do we change this way of thinking? How do we accept those with mental illness, accept ourselves, and work towards acceptance, and compassion? I guess that will be my next round of study....so stay tuned.