I bet each one of you knows a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a colleague, who is diabetic, or with high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney disease, some kind of cancer or any other physical illness…
What do you think would happen if you alienate them, if you call them “different” or living “in their own world”? How would this affect their health situation in your opinion? On the other hand, how would your support helps them get thru their sickness? Thru tough times and ordinary days?
Now what if the same ones have a mental illness instead of a physical one. Would you behave differently? How would your behavior help them again to go thru their challenges?
You see, a mental illness is a disorder of one’s thinking or feeling, just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas. Mental illness can affect anyone, at any age, from any social class, gender, religion or race.
People don’t get it because they are not strong enough or smart enough; they get it because of a mental disorder, which is not their fault. And you can’t tell them simply how they should function or what they should do, since it is not just another unpaid bill or unsatisfied job they don’t know how to deal with, for you to suggest solutions. They need professional help and they can be cured with one.
In some cases, they got it after they went thru very challenging situations which, if we’ve been thru ourselves, there is no guarantee that we will come out intact… in some cases, we might even be in a worse situation than them.
Mental illness is just like any other illness that may be cured with proper treatment and support system. For some, it may take longer; for others, it might be a lifetime illness they have to live with, just like some physical illnesses.
Negative stereotypes or the stigma about such illnesses may lead us to mistreat those patients, sometimes with violence, bullying, condescendence, or even worse, negligence and indifference. As a result, they will hesitate seeking help for fear of being judged by society: they’d rather stay ill than be rejected…
Don’t pity them, don’t treat them with sympathy, they are not incomplete human beings… treat them with empathy, just like how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes, since you are not immune!
Jane Pauley, an American TV anchor and journalist, said: “My goal is to see that mental illness is treated like cancer.”
And Bill Clinton, an American ex-president, said: “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all”
If we don’t understand what they are going thru, it is not their problem, it is ours…Ditch the stigma and Embrace them!
Rania Hammoud, Life Coach
Check also my blog at http://raniahammoud.blogspot.com
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