Monday, October 7, 2013

Awareness: I have mental illnesses. I have a good life.

I had a good weekend. I spent time with Larry and my kitties. I read one great book and started another. I did some chores around the house. I took some photos. I did some organizing and planning on paper. I napped. I relaxed.
Yes, a good weekend.
I’m grateful for good times like this, for each new day that brings opportunities to be productive and enjoy those I love.
And I’m grateful that I can still enjoy the things in life that so many of you enjoy despite having mental illnesses.

This week (October 6-12) is Mental Illness Awareness Week, promoted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).



I want to take this opportunity to speak out in support of others dealing with mental illness, whether they have a condition themselves or have family or friends with mental illness.

But it’s not the end of the world if you have a mental illness.
I recognize that there is a lot of stigma about mental illness. When I’ve told people that I have a mental illness, I haven’t always been met with understanding. I can sometimes see the unease in other people’s reactions. We as a society are not comfortable talking about mental illness.
I have depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly known as OCD. My psychiatrist has also diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
I used to think all those diagnoses made me a mess.
But I’m not a mess. I’m a woman who struggles sometimes—if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that.
But I also live a good life. I have a husband I adore; I have pets; I have a job I enjoy; I take opportunities to write, something I consider to be part of my purpose; I take photographs; I have good weekends and good weekdays.
Treatment has allowed me to bloom in many ways.
Just as I have been helped by treatment for mental illness, so can anyone with one of these disorders. Everyone responds differently, but I firmly believe that anyone can improve with the right treatment.
It’s not always easy. I have had to make adjustments in my life to allow for the anxiety and depression that sometimes interfere with my daily activities. I have to be mindful to take my medication, see my doctor, and do the other things I do for my mental health.

But life isn’t always easy for you either, is it? We all have obstacles, burdens, troubles. Some of mine happen to include mental illness.

I encourage you to learn more about mental illness by visiting the NAMI website. And remember to be thankful for the good days.


Have you ever witnessed stigma associated with mental illness?

32 comments:

  1. Glad you had a good weekend, Tina. As you know, I have witnessed plenty of stigma associated with mental illness.

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    1. Thanks for your understanding, Linda. I hope stigma lessens as time goes on. I believe it will!

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  2. Brilliant post, Tina! And I agree 1000%! You CAN still have a good, meaningful, and productive life in spite of mental illness. We are so much more than a diagnosis.

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    1. Thank you, Sunny. Yes, indeed, we are more than our diagnosis, and that's a good thing to be reminded of!

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  3. Oh Tina great timing on this post you do have a wonderful life and so do I and we are very lucky but life creeps in sometimes and tries to make us forget that. I have been packing up my Mom's house with mixed emotions but I know this is just one of those "life moments" I will get through and the good life will continue to be my anchor. I am so happy you are happy. Life is a wonderful journey. Hugs B

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    1. Thank you, B. Yes, we all have the hard times. I have been thinking of you and your Mom and hope she settles into her new home with peace and happiness. I know it has been hard for you. I'm glad that you have that anchor of love and family.

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  4. A great way to promote awareness! You always do so much for this :-)

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I appreciate your continuing support. I know you have a special understanding of mental health because of the good work that you do!

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  5. I am so glad that the stigma regarding mental illness has lessened a lot over the past few years. I think education is a big part of that. Also, there has been more awareness placed on the issue. People are scared of what they're not familiar with. Some people are just uneducated when it comes to mental illness. So the more a person is educated and made aware, the more they realize that there's nothing abnormal about mental illness at all. I think we all exist on a continuum and there's no such thing as "perfect mental health".

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    1. Thanks, Keith. You make great points. I agree that the more people understand about mental illness, they less afraid they are of it and of people with it.

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  6. you are a wonderful inspiration. :)

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    1. Thank you, Theresa. I appreciate your support and cheering me on! :-)

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  7. this is once again another touching post. I've seen reactions to those who are obviously stuggling especially when medications are heavy change over the decades, in a good way, I think that awareness through education from public drives, movies, documentaries have lessened some of the uneasiness of not knowing what to expect, decreased the fear and the discomfort factor but it is another one of those areas where we need to be reminded and helped through to understanding, thus a week of Awareness, Education and Sharing is super. Bravo to you Tina for sharing...

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    1. Thank you, Lynn, for your encouraging words. I agree that things in popular culture like movies and documentaries, along with public education, can go a long way toward making people aware of mental illness. The more we talk about it, the less discomfort there will be.

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  8. Can I just tell you how much admire you for putting yourself out there and bring awareness to mental health issues! You are truly helping to erase any stigma that some might attach to the issue. Thank you :)

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kathy. Encouragement like your helps me to keep on going, keep on writing!

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  9. i am well educated on mental illness as i am/was a nurse!! the huge problem with mental illness is education, most of the general public is not educated about mental illness!! an entry like this really helps raise awareness, if you open one mind up, you have been successful!!

    everyone is climbing a mountain, you are brave to share your mountain with us!! xo

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    1. Thank you, Debbie, for your kind comment and for your work as a health professional. The general public is not usually educated about mental illness, and I do hope I can help with that.

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  10. Wonderful post, Tina. And yes, we ALL have struggles. Whether we have mental illness or not, I'd like to think we can all get to the point where we can support one another, instead of stigmatizing. Posts like this one will help move us forward in that direction.

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    1. Thanks, Janet. You're right--stigmatizing takes the place of support, and what we all need is support.

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  11. We have a long way to go when it comes to mental illness. Treatment is quite primitive. There's a lot of stuff out there that sort of works. You're right about the public's understanding and perception of mental illness. And people do not realize that some people with mental illness are able to cope quite well even though they face immense obstacles. Keep having those good days , Tina.

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    1. Thank you, Red. I appreciate it. Treatment certainly varies from person to person, and unfortunately, there seems to be no one treatment that takes care of all mental illness. We do have a ways to go. I'm grateful for what we have now, though.

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  12. Yes, I have! I know at times that I freak people out, and that frustrates me. I have severe anxiety, and it makes certain social situations difficult. I also require a great deal of solitude, which is considered strange. Our illnesses would be easier to bear if we didn't have to fight a sense of shame and being shunned. One of the things I like about the small town where I live is that there are so many writers and artists...we seem to be able to share our struggles more openly with each other without fear of not being accepted.

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    1. Thanks, Nadine. You make such a good point that I can relate to--people thinking I'm strange because I need a lot of alone time and don't like certain social conditions. I've had to explain myself so many times. It gets tiring. I'm glad you're finding your place in your new town.

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  13. I recognized about 25 years ago that I was not "normal" as some would put it and can happily say now -- I deal with my issues medicine free -- because that is what working for me right now. That's not to say I wouldn't seek help if I felt my illness was getting out of control.

    It's much easier now to discuss mental illness than it was back when I was first diagnosed. Yet, there are people in my own family that don't understand it.

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Nancy. I'm so glad that you have found ways to deal with your issues. I was first diagnosed years ago, too--in 1990. Things are definitely easier now. I remember being so afraid that someone I knew would see me going into a psychiatrist's office!

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  14. Raising my hand for anxiety disorder. I'm not sure how I would have handled my life without therapy, though sometimes issues sneak up on me and then I realize it's the tension of living with a lot of anxiety.

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    1. Thank you, Carol. Therapy helped me tremendously, too, though like you, issues come to the forefront sometimes that I didn't expect.

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  15. You are a good spokesperson for NAMI, Tina. I love your understanding of mental health. Yes, I agree everyone has a burden to deal with.

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  16. Such a good post .. specifically because I'm trying to figure out how mental illness fits into my life. I mean, I was diagnosed with a handful of them, but am not sure where I am at this moment. You've given me something to really think about, and to ask about in therapy.

    I have been one to stigmatize myself (if that makes sense), but not others. And I didn't really realize that until this moment.

    Thank you for writing this.

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  17. Wonderful post about an extremely important topic. Yes, I have witnessed the stigma associated with mental illness, and it upsets and infuriates me. Isn't it about time we moved beyond that? I believe many people suffer with their illnesses, and not living life fully, because they're ashamed to step forward and seek help. Why do we treat illnesses of the brain so differently from other parts of the body? We need to keep moving forward, and we need to eliminate the stigma.

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  18. You are so brave to discuss your issues. I hope it helps others. I'm sure it does.

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