Mental Illness: What To Do?
There has always been much said in the media about mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. There was the tragedy many years ago of the Yates family and five dead children, and the tributes given to the movie Beautiful Mind at the Oscars back in 2002. How does one sort out how to respond to such divergent aspects of an illness?
Anger, horror, and fear are natural responses to physical harm or death as in the Yates’ situation. Astonishment, hope, respect may be some of the emotions evoked by the movie honored in 2002. However, I suspect for many people fear and avoidance are more frequently associated with mental illness.
In the real world, for many people diagnosed with schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses, they struggle to manage symptoms of the illness without ever harming anyone physically or achieving the national achievements of Nash in the movie.
They are learning daily to manage an illness that can exhibit many facets. People do experience voices, see visions that seem real and are not real. They have difficulty sorting out some of their perceptions and whether they are exaggerated or “normal”. They are working to perform every day tasks while experiencing these symptoms to a greater or lesser degree. Medication, in recent years, has helped with symptoms. Talking with someone; therapist, rehabilitation staff, family or friends to “check out” what is accurate helps. Exploring ways to continue daily activities and responsibilities while addressing specific symptomatology is an important part of the recovery process.
The medical field and those diagnosed with a serious mental illness are learning much these days about what and why these illnesses occur. As the answers unfold, there will be more opportunity to overcome symptoms and prevent the diseases.
Persons when first diagnosed with a mental illness frequently experience the same emotions as many in society––fear, avoidance, denial. However, knowledge is power. Learning about the illness, what occurs and how others have dealt with schizophrenia and other affective disorders shifts control and extinguishes fear.
None of us need avoid mental illness, we need to learn what it means, how to recognize the illness, and how to seek help when necessary. Very few of us will be untouched by someone having emotional problems, perhaps a serious one. All of us need to know where to find help, and assist each other.