Behind The Smile

(Image courtesy of squarespace)

The blog has two purposes:

1. We support the efforts put toward mental health illness because it's something that all of us at some point, whether its acute self-doubt or clinical diagnosis.

2. Moving: hiking, fishing, hunting, exploring, traveling etc. better life and grooms a healthy mind. Thank you for reading. 

What It’s Living With A Mental Illness

(Image courtesy of @blancotejedor)

My work (& sometimes weekends) are normally booked. I go between 3–5 clients Monday through Friday, facilitating two groups in between the week. Normally, our groups instruct our members to focus on themselves and own behavior. Sometimes, information about their significant other slips through. One afternoon, a gentleman told me that it was difficult trying to understand his significant other — that he wanted to relate to her and her mental illness (clinical depression) — but didn’t truly know how. As much as we say “love her; be there; be patient; practice empathy” for some, it doesn’t set in. His question was:

“What’s It Like Living With A Mental Illness?”

A question, he asked because he didn’t think it was as widespread and believed there to be a lot of resources for those who suffer with one. He might’ve asked his significant other or was too fearful of what the reaction might be.

Mental illness is real. In fact, around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental illness among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide (World Health Organization, 2019). Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental illness never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and care and treatment from reaching people with mental illnesses worldwide (World Health Organization, 2019).

Prevalence Of Mental Illness

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5% — experiences mental illness in a given year.

  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. — 9.8 million, or 4.0% — experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13 — 18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8 — 15, the estimate is 13%3

  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S. — 16 million — had at least one major depressive episode in the past year6

  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.

(National Alliance Mental Health, 2019).

And those are just who have reported; The resources are out there, treatment centers, therapy, groups, books, classes, etc. So, there are a lot of individuals who are struggling with mental lack the connection to the resources, live in fear of the consequences, or are survivors, stuck in a battle with a persistent condition that won’t quit.

I told him I would have an answer the next time we saw each other. Following, I asked a good friend who was diagnosed with depression, a depression so severe that it was interfering with her functioning in life.

This was her response:

“Exhausting. Depression sucks. It’s like trying to get a car moving with no gas, and everyone’s racing past you why you’re being a stupid [redacted] that isn’t moving.

So you get out and start pushing that car, but it wears you out, and people get frustrated with you and complain that you’re being a slow [redacted], and you try to explain that you have no gas, but they don’t really get it because their tanks have been full their entire lives. And you’re gonna be alone too, since who wants to travel that slowly? And if you do get someone, he's gonna sit in the front seat and yell at you to push faster.

So you either go to a place where you feel like offing yourself once your legs give out, or you get a doctor to dump some “pseudo-fuel” in your car that’ll make it go just fine, but once you stop using it, your car will run in reverse and then you’re really [redacted].

Most of us though, get by, by pushing that ugly car every day little by litte in our dreary lives. And every time someone roars past you, tossing a soda cup or a beer bottle at you and your horrible car, you just push your face to the fender and keep pushing. You come upon the wreckage of those people who went too fast, who threw [redacted] at you and mocked you for not being able to cruise along, and you see people stopping to mourn the burning dead, but you don’t feel sad, no, you just keep pushing that car, ignoring the wreckage.

I stopped really feeling anything except anger, so I held on to that like it was the only thing that could save me. I kept convincing myself I was just stressed and had a lot to deal with and I could handle it. The oddest thing, though, was the suicidal idealization. I didn’t actually want to die, I just wished every single night that I wouldn’t wake up. It was a complete and overwhelming feeling of, “I will never be free of this [redacted]” and when I wasn’t raging about that, I didn’t care about anything. It was as if I were in greyscale and the world was in color.”



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