More and more people are talking about mental health, and that’s brilliant.
However, there’s still a lot to learn about it – and it seems handling how you talk about ‘recovery’ plays a big factor in this.
I was recently listening to the radio when the hosts started discussing mental illness and recovery. They talked about how many people are able to recover from mental illness, without actually disclosing with mental illnesses they were talking about.
Personally, I believe this to be somewhat dangerous because despite making their listeners more aware of mental illness, they gave off the impression that all mental illnesses can be recovered from. And this is simply not the case.
Many mental illnesses are chronic illnesses – they are lifelong or persistent illnesses that don’t just go away.
Part of the problem contributing to the misunderstanding of mental illness is that we don’t realise this. We’re still not seeing mental illness as a real illness, as we would a physical one. If we did, people suffering from them would believe they’re going to be taken seriously when they finally find the courage to seek help.
And so, we should move this process along by learning that there is a total difference between recovery and remission.
In most cases, mental illness is incurable. Disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety are life-long illnesses that have no cure.
Sure, there are ways to help a person living with a mental illness such as these – through means of therapy, psychiatry and medication. But this doesn’t cure the underlying cause, it simply helps to balance it out and gives a person living with a mental illness a chance at an easier way of life.
But even with all of that help, a person can still crash.
I live with bipolar disorder, and I take a cocktail of medications every night – mood stabilisers, anti-psychotics and anxiety tablets mainly. While most of the time, these keep me balanced and feeling okay, there are times when it stops working.
I’ll go into a hypomanic episode or a depressive, and I can only wait out the erratic ride until it’s finally over.
After several weeks, I’ll be back to my ‘stable’ self.
This does not mean I’ve recovered from my bipolar disorder. It simply means I’m in remission. And this applies for most other serious mental illnesses, too.
Remission is the temporary diminution of symptoms of mental illness. At least, the most extreme of symptoms.
A person can feel as okay as they possibly can for days, weeks, months and even years – and still experience symptoms of their mental illness.
And people need to realise this when talking about mental illness.
It’ll help people finally realise that the likes of running, eating better and drinking more water aren’t anything more than a helping factor in feeling better within yourself.