Tackling Mental Illness
When I first heard the term Mental illness I thought it just referred to people being out of their minds or crazy. In fact it’s not till I was diagnosed with a mental illness that I discovered that it refers to a wide range of mental health conditions and disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour.
Mental illnesses include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours and is common in about 1 in 5 adults according to a psychiatric mental health clinic. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years, but most begin earlier in life.
The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long lasting. An individual also may have more than one mental health disorder at the same time as I personally experienced. For example, you may have depression and a substance use disorder.
This is true as in my case, I suffered from massive depression, Post traumatic stress and was also diagnosed with Bio-polar which I never knew I had and what made my mental illnesses spiral out of control is the fact that I relapsed into heavy narcotics.
A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life. I experienced this first hand as I started behaving queer not only at home but at my workplace as well, which really made me sink deeper in the trap that I even started to plot my own death as I felt all the weight of the world was on me. In my mind I thought there was something wrong but I did not know what was wrong with me.
Thus signs and symptoms of mental illness may vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. An individual will not know that they have a mental illness until people close to them spot the changes in one’s behaviour at home,work, school and relationships. Ongoing signs and symptoms of mental illness can cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function normally.
Examples of signs and symptoms include: Feeling sad or down ,confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate, excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt, extreme mood changes of highs and lows, Withdrawal from friends and activities, significant tiredness, low energy or insomnia.
Often one feels detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations, inability to cope with daily problems or stress, trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people, alcohol or drug abuse, major changes in eating habits, excessive anger, hostility or violence and suicidal thinking, were some of the things I experienced.
According to the psychiatric mental health clinic, sometimes though, symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headache, or other unexplained aches and pains.
It is not hard to spot someone who has mental illness as their behaviour is out of this world as was mine as well and I experienced most of the symptoms of someone with mental illness and had no clue what was wrong with me and this frustrated me even more.
Even though the actual cause of mental illnesses has not been discovered, there are in general, a variety of genetic and environmental factors that can contribute to mental illness such as inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it such as environmental exposures before birth.
These are also said to be the contributors of mental illness exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.
According to the psychiatric mental health clinic, the brain chemistry neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression.
In most cases, these symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy).
I underwent both as my symptoms were severe and the medications do help you balance out the chemicals in the brain and therapy also contributes a lot to an individuals recovery and should not be stopped till the Doctor says so.
I realised that I was carrying a lot of baggage not only from my present life but from my future life as well. These events triggered a lot of the symptoms therefore I also relapsed back into narcotics. I only got diagnosed with this at 25 years meaning that it may happen to anyone whether you are young or old it doesn’t really mater what gender you are.
If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or mental health specialist as most mental illnesses don’t improve on their own, and if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems. Like when an individual becomes suicidal or when the individual actually goes through with the suicide.
Do not postpone if you feel there is something wrong with you like I did. I postponed for too long but I got the right help in the nick of time.
Mental illness is very serious and I came to plead that anyone who suffers or think they suffer from mental illness to seek immediate help please, as Namibia has lost a lot of lives through ignoring the signs and symptoms of mental health.