Understanding mental illness

To The Editor:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Being someone who lives with a mental illness, I certainly am an advocate for mental health. As the month comes to an end, mental illness does not.

As a society, we are uneducated about a subject hidden far too long. If we put mental illness on a scale, there is a wide spectrum of brain disorders. This includes everything form depression to nervous breakdowns, schizophrenia, mania to name a few on the “scale.”

Mental illness is a brain disorder not a behavioral disorder. When someone with a severe mental illness becomes psychotic, the brain is “wiring wrong messages.” Thoughts cannot be processed in a normal way, and bizarre behavior occurs.

The psychotic individual has no control over what the brain is telling them and reality is “gone” during the duration of the episode.

We need to realize, brains DO get sick, just like any other part of the body. Those suffering from a brain “sickness” need help, not judgement. When someone is physically sick, we have compassion and empathy.

When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, there is a horrible stigma attached to that person. We can’t physically see the brain, so people aren’t aware it’s sick. We don’t wrap a bandage around our heads for people to realize something bad has happened to it.

As stated, brains get sick, but brains do and can get well with the right diagnosis, medication and medical treatment needed for each individual.

I am so grateful I received the medical help and treatment I needed. I am also so very thankful for a husband who understood that my brain disorder didn’t define who I am as a person. I sincerely thank my husband, family, friends, and so many in our community for the wonderful support given to me.

Most suffering from a mental illness do not get the support they need. One in four people suffer from some form of mental illness so shouldn’t we be talking about it?

I never would have thought it could happen to me. I was diagnosed at the age of 57. It can and does happen to anybody and can happen at any time. We all need to be aware of our mental health.

In a super-fast-paced world, our brains can break down at any time. As a society, let’s start erasing the stigma, and be aware one-in-four have a mental illness and let’s start talking about it.

It’s time we shed light and awareness on a hidden subject.

I pray those suffering with a mental illness get the help and care needed from the medical field and get the understanding and compassion they need from all of us.

Karen Lueders

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