Dealing with mental illness…tricky. And let me say here, I’m no expert. All of the information I’ve gathered below comes from my own research, both print and interviews of professionals. It is for general information only, is a bit simplistic, and should not be considered absolute.
Hopefully, however, it can lay a foundation of understanding.
It helps to understand just what mental health is, and how it differs from emotional health. Mental health is how your brain functions; processing information, forming opinions, making decisions, and using logic are all a part of mental health.
Emotional health is expressing your emotions in a manner appropriate to your age and other factors. Your mental health affects your emotional health when, for example, you’re too tired or stressed to properly assess a situation.
Now we get to mental illness. A mental illness is a recognized, medically diagnosable illness that affects one’s mental health. These illnesses can result from biological, developmental and/or psychosocial factors and can be managed in a manner similar to physical diseases (e.g. medications).
There is a fuzzy area of poor mental well-being (this is not a medical term, just a convenient one) that perhaps is not medically a mental illness, but may still be treated with medication or other methods used for mental illness. This does not necessarily have an identified biological or physiological foundation, but is disruptive to one’s life.
Now someone with a mental illness can have good mental health. Why? Because some mental illnesses are episodic, or because they are under control with proper treatment. The people with the best mental health, in fact, arguably could be those who’ve faced serious issues with it and overcome them.
Not that the battle is ever fully won, as many mental illnesses are chronic. Treatment may need to be adjusted periodically for a number of reasons, for example, the effectiveness of medication is lessened with use, the medication develops undesirable side effects, or other factors not yet fully understood.
In all likelihood you know people dealing with mental illness, whether you can identify them or not.
If you think you might have a mental illness, see a professional for thorough testing. If you think you may be having problems such as depression or anxiety that are not the result of mental illness, but are affecting your job, relationships and sense of self, again, see a professional. Help is available. Don’t give up.
If anyone reading this has professional information to add, please do so in the comment section and I will note it in the post. Comments from the heart are welcome, too, of course.
All images © geosap – Fotolia