Why We Should Be Knowledgeable of Mental Illness

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Mental illness has the potential to impact every aspect of an individual’s life, as well as the lives of those close to them. I have watched my mother suffer from mental illness since I was a child. At first I did not understand the crying spell, anger, and the mood swings; however, as I have gotten older it all makes sense now. Mental illness has an effect on the overall routine of an individual’s daily life and I have witnessed this first hand. Mental illness has such a nasty stigma that people are ashamed to get help. A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood but the stigma is if you have mental issues you are crazy.

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Most people think of “mental illness” as a contiguous disease. I first started noticing mental issues in my mom when I was about nine years old I was too young to understand. I would see my mother out on the steps crying or hear her in her room crying late at night and I thought she was still taking my brother death really hard. My brother was electrocuted maybe a year before while the family was out playing a game of baseball, he was only 21 years old. We all witness his death and were affected in some way but this was my mom first child and it weighed heavy on her. Thinking back everything is clearer his death played a role in the issues she already had hidden.

Mental illness should not be used as an adjective to describe people; it’s what you have not who you are. The first thing that pops into others head is something has to be wrong with that person, but really there isn’t anything wrong. Mental illness is just like other diseases and cancers it cannot be cured but it can be treated. Years later my mom was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. You would think when she was diagnosed her life would have become easier; however that was not the case. Things were actually worse because this is where the stigmas came in. Many professionals view mental illness as a serious condition, while others take it less seriously and see it as a part of everyday life. My mom would go in for doctor appointments and doctors would look at her medical records and automatically assume that her medical conditions were all in her head. It took doctors ten years before they diagnosed my mom with diabetes. Mom would be passing out but when she went to the hospital they would look at her medical history and tell her it was from anxiety. My mom wouldn’t give up, she finally found a doctor who would listen to her but it was too late. Because it took doctors 10 years to diagnose her with diabetes she now has chronic kidney failure and is on dialysis three times a week.

Many people with serious mental illness have to struggle twice as hard as patients than someone in their right mind. They first have to deal with the symptoms of the disease and then the challenges of the stereotypes and the misconceptions about the person and their illness. You would think a professional doctor would understand people who suffer from mental illness but some doctors are not compassionate and patience when it comes to mentally ill patients I have witnessed this first hand. My mother has really suffered because of her mental illness. I feel my mother has been robbed of the opportunity to have a good life because of the lack of knowledge from professional doctors who puts a stigma on mental illness and do not know how to recognize it. My mom just had a total hip replacement a couple months ago and I personally feel all her illnesses is a chain reaction to her mental illness sound crazy I know. My mother had been telling her primary health care provider about the pain in her hip for about two years and again he would tell her it was all in her head. Well, my sisters and I got together and started researching Orthopedics we found one who would accept her without being referred by another doctor. And the orthopedic was shocked of the condition her hip was in, he was actually upset and could not believe another professional let her condition get this bad.

Not only have my mom been affected by her mental illness but my whole family has. Because of the stigmas that have been put on her from her mental illness, she has lost confidence, self-esteem and she will lay around and suffer because she does not want to be labeled as a pill head or be told it’s all in her head. My mom refuses to seek help or treatment and her children get upset because she will lie around until she can’t take it anymore. This makes my mom feel we don’t understand her and this make us feel guilty. It hurt’s to see her suffer for something that is out of her control. The exact cause of mental illness has not been determined however, I do believe my brother’s death was the onset. According to an article “Mental Illness Basics” “researcher believe that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors and not personal weakness”. I can agree with the article because my grandmother was diagnosed and researchers believe this disease can be genetically passed down. My mom has it and even though my sisters and I haven’t been diagnosed the warning signs are there. Not only do I see the symptoms in my sisters and me but in my daughter as well. I have started letting my daughter see a counselor now because of the warning signs and because I know there is a history of mental illness. However, I feel my brother’s death is a big factor in my mother’s mental decline I come to this conclusion because when my mother is under general anesthesia she calls my brother’s name and talks to him. To see your son lifeless body that had just turn twenty-one and just gotten married will leave the average person traumatized. And I think the combination of his death and genetics are the two main sources. My mom has tried different medications, counseling and her children have been her moral support. Medications have helped but the side effect of one of the medications is believed to be what caused her to inherit diabetes. My mom has been under a mental health professional for years along with taking medicine but there is a pattern I have seen coming from a small town.

Many mental health professionals don’t stay long and this has a negative effect on a mental person. Once she gets comfortable with one doctor she has to start over because they are not being paid enough and they leave. And over the years medication has not been effective as it should be because she had to take so many at one time. I can remember a time when my mother was taking 11 or more pills in one dose. Can you imagine taking those many pills twice a day? She couldn’t help but sleep all day it became so bad the doctor himself had to take her off some of the medicine.

Mental illness is a serious illness and it is important for society to understand the severity of this disease. First, we have to deal with the misinformation, misconceptions and the stigma placed on people with mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A) an estimated 31.9% of adolescents had an anxiety disorder. Of adolescents with an anxiety disorder, an estimated 8.3% had a severe impairment. DSM-IV criteria were used to determine impairment. The prevalence of any anxiety disorder among adolescents was higher for females (38.0%) than for males (26.1%).

So mental illness affects millions of people and their families annually. If people are knowledgeable of mental illness this would help people like my mom so they want to have to suffer twice. They should not be blamed for their condition. According to Psychologist Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive learning theory suggested that people are shaped by the interactions between their behaviors, thoughts, and environmental events. Based on cognitive theory, our dysfunctional thoughts lead to extreme emotions. These emotions inhibit your ability to adjust healthily to particular situations. I can relate this theory to my mom’s mental illness and my brother’s death.

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