On Mental Illness
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

On Mental Illness

And why it needs to be taken as seriously as physical illness

109
On Mental Illness

I recently read a “Humans of New York” interview with Gerard Ilaria, a doctor who has spent over twenty years helping AIDS victims and soldiers struggling through PTSD after returning home from war. In the first part of the interview, Ilaria explains how PTSD can be fixed, despite common misconception: “The maddening thing about PTSD is that it’s completely fucking fixable. The narrative about it has got to change. PTSD is not Uncle Joe from Vietnam. It’s not homelessness. It’s not a heroin addiction. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s certainly not suicide. PTSD is an anxiety disorder and we can treat it. But you’ve got to get help...if your nervous system is broken, it needs to be fixed. Just like a broken leg needs to be fixed.”

After reading the interview to my mom, she said something that has stuck with me ever since our conversation. She recalled the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting– one of the worst mass shootings in history. This type of violence happens as a result of untreated mental illness. Whether or not one decides to put blame on guns or Adam Lanza’s upbringing, Lanza’s mental illness was always there in the background. It may have started as a small seed, but it grew until its roots were literally destroying the ground he walked on and invading other lives, too. Untreated mental illness is what influenced his every thought and action and is therefore the predisposing factor in the horror he created on December 14, 2012 and the trauma that victims and witnesses are still dealing with today.

In a New York Times article titled, “Adam Lanza’s Mental Problems ‘Completely Untreated’ Before Newtown Shooting, Report Says” author Alison Cowen brings up a 2014 report by Yale University, “based on a comprehensive examination of the medical and school histories of Mr. Lanza, 20, found he was ‘completely untreated in the years before the shooting’ for psychiatric and physical ailments like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and was also deprived of recommended services and drugs...the report also stated that anorexia could have affected his mental state.” In the United States, about 3.3 million people suffer from OCD, 40 million have anxiety, and 30 million people suffer from a “clinically significant eating disorder” (National Eating Disorder). Any kind of mental illness that goes untreated can become fatal for both the sufferer and people to whom they are connected.

But this issue needs to be taken as seriously as other types of diseases and illnesses, like cancer, for example, if we want to see a change in peoples’ behavior. Like Ilaria said, “If your nervous system is broken, it needs to be fixed. Just like a broken leg.” There is help out there, but how many people are taking advantage of it? How many people take mental illness as seriously as they take other illnesses? Instead of being perceived as something as simple as weakness, it needs to be taken as a serious health condition, and people who suffer need to get help. In a 2015 “International Business Times” article by Kathleen Caulderwood titled “Sandy Hook Report: Is Adam Lanza’s Mother a Victim? Not Included on Newtown List,” Caulderwood states, “While some say Lanza's mother, Nancy Lanza, could have intervened to stop the tragedy, others emphasize how difficult it can be to get adequate help.”

But this isn’t to say all people who mental illness are violent, or all violent people have a mental illness. Some of the most intelligent and creative people to walk the planet were never treated for mental illness, but most of those people also had horrible lives. It does not always get to the point of suicide or homicide, though suicide and homicide are always both the result of some kind of mental condition. Sometimes, however, it just makes life depressing; mental illness puts a regular lifestyle out of reach for its victims. Sometimes, getting out of bed can be somebody’s biggest accomplishment. The first paragraph in Kati Rokowski’s “A Good Day,” reads, “Yesterday, I spent 60 dollars on groceries, took the bus home, carried both bags with two good arms back to my studio apartment and cooked myself dinner. You and I may have different definitions of a good day.” She goes on to explain how her mother won’t be bragging about her accomplishments at dinner with her friends, but she’s proud of her daughter nonetheless because she understands the toll mental illness can take on somebody’s daily routine. That’s all anybody really needs– not to be completely understood, but to have someone in their life who knows that being completely understood is an unrealistic expectation for someone with a mental condition.

In our conversation, my mom and I also talked about postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. She has worked as a perinatal nurse for over twenty years, and she has seen plenty of cases of women who quite literally lose their minds after having a baby. Even in my own family, there is a history of postpartum psychosis. Mental illness does not discriminate; it can happen to anybody, not just people who have PTSD. But, how many people are even aware that this happens? How many people really know about postpartum depression and psychosis? “Not many,” my mom told me, because people don’t treat mental illness the same way they treat broken bones.

Therapy needs to turn into something that people look forward to– not something their parents force them to do or something they have to go through just because the school counselors think it’s in a student’s best interest. Therapy needs to become a way for people to express thoughts and feelings without shame, discover new interests and identify triggers and learn to start appreciating every day instead of dreading the morning. There are so many growing resources online that range from online counseling and therapy to websites that will find the right therapist or psychiatrist in your area.

In the “Humans of New York” article I mentioned before, Ilariad says, “You may have served with guys who don’t have issues– that’s great for them. But that doesn’t mean they are stronger than you. It means they don’t have the same nervous system as you. It’s not weakness. It’s science. And it can be solved.” Don’t wait to seek help just because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. You are surrounded by tons of other victims– some who want to help and others who are seeking help themselves. Remember that by looking out for yourself, you are also looking out for your loved ones, so don’t hold back.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Lifestyle

How Much Of A Coffee Snob You Are, Based On Where You Live

Your state may determine how picky you are about your coffee.

316392

When it comes to coffee, everyone has different criteria for what goes into their "perfect cup." Some caffeine lovers, though, are extra particular when it comes to their beloved beverage. One survey found that the state you're from (or the one you live in now) may play a part in determining how much of a coffee snob you actually are.

LiveShopper Sassie, the company behind this Coffee Project survey, received input from 1,000 coffee drinkers via their mobile app, PrestoShopper, to ask various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

12 Relationship Therapists To Follow On Instagram For The Most Fulfilling Love Life, Doctor's Orders

It's 2020, you should only be following accounts that inspire you.

15919

While you continue working on prioritizing your health and happiness in 2020, why not transform your social media feeds to be places that inspire and teach you? Long gone are the days where you follow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself (unfollow them because... no thank you).

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Where To Find The Best Coffee Drinks In America, According To A Survey

Here's the coffee shop where you should get your morning brew.

453081

Coffee, for billions of people, is one of the only things that can get us out of bed (after hitting snooze a time or two), especially in 2020. Because, if we're being honest, is there anything that beats a quality cup of coffee on those mornings when all we wanted to do is roll over and go back to sleep? The answer is no. And if you're headed to a coffee shop to pick up your caffeinated beverage, you don't want to sleep on the best coffee drinks in America.

According to LiveShopper Sassie's Coffee Project survey, when it comes to chain coffee shops, there are definitely preferred spots you'll want to hit up for your go-to order — whether you order the classic, frozen, or flavored coffee, an espresso, tea, or other. To figure out the hot spots, 1,000 coffee drinkers across the United States took to LiveShopper's mobile app, PrestoShopper, to answer various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less
Shalyni Paiyappilly

We could all use a mental health check-in, especially as we approach the end of a wild calendar year. Each of us has faced obstacles we probably didn't see coming in January, and whether you're feeling confident or terrified about the end of the year, a mental health reset is probably a good idea.

Shalyni Paiyappilly is a mental health therapist and yoga and meditation teacher who has remained diligent in helping her patients and students stay healthy, whether virtually or in person. She took some time to share how her roles have evolved since New York City first shut down in March 2020, as well as how the climate surrounding mental health has shifted and grown even more apparent in 2020.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

How To Write About The 2020 Election

If you're a first-time voter or voting by mail for the first time, we want to hear your story.

161383

The general election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, will decide not only the next president of the United States but also which political party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate. Young and first-time voters will play a crucial part in determining the result.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Loved This Face Mask So Much That I Sent One To My Mom

A good, comfortable mask is a hot commodity these days.

3928

At this point in our pandemic year, a good face mask is a necessity. A mask is required to enter many establishments in most states (you can find your state's regulations here), and even if you're in a county that does not have an enforced mask mandate, a business may still require that you wear one before coming inside. At the beginning of these mandates, it seemed like one face mask would do the trick, but now I'm keeping a face mask in my purse, in my coat pocket, right next to my keys... everywhere I could possibly need a mask at a moment's notice. My family, while in an entirely different part of the country, is doing the same thing. They have a car mask, a backpack mask, a jacket mask — everywhere you strategically place a tube of chapstick, you're now stocking a mask.

Keep Reading... Show less
Tips

Articles To Write If You're All About Saving More Money, And Waking Up A Little Bit Earlier

Get your day started right — and keep that budget tight.

258625

For all the young professionals, parents, and students out there who've been working, learning, or even teaching remote — 2020 has likely been the longest year of your life. If you didn't know (sorry), we've been locked down for over 200 days now, and chances are, you are ready for it to be OVER.

Keep Reading... Show less

Thursday night, Ariana Grande released "Positions", her sixth studio album and one of her best to date. She gave us pop, R&B, and jazz. She gave us powerhouse and soft spoken vocals. She gave us anthems, bedroom jams, and ballads. Basically, "Positions" has all the replay value in the world and a song for everyone.

Because it is so good, it's only right to rank the songs. This list is not in order of best to worst, because there are simply no "worst" songs. It's in order of great to utterly stellar.

Keep Reading... Show less
Iron Horse Entertainment

November is upon us — and once it's November, the holidays are like a freight train because they are here and gone so quickly.

It's definitely important to cherish these holiday months, but it also means that the new year is right around the corner! Snuggle up and get cozy with these new Netflix TV shows and movies as they rid out the old ones.

Keep Reading... Show less
Courtesy of Sarah Ripoli

Even as Domestic Violence Awareness month comes to an end, the fight to raise awareness and speak out to save lives will not stop — especially during a pandemic in which individuals worldwide are forced into quarantine with their abusers. For Sarah Ripoli, a 27-year-old woman who was witness to her mother's death by domestic violence when she was just 6 years old, this couldn't be more true.

Today, just about 20 years after her mom's murder, the Angel Energy founder is using her voice, and her business, to continue the conversation around domestic violence every day while also donating 25% of proceeds to domestic violence charities like Safe+Sound, One Love, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Women Rising, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Child Witness to Violence Project — to name just a handful.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Every Product From Sarah Hyland's Sexy CMA Look Was Under $15 From Maybelline

If it's good enough for the stars, it's good enough for you, too.

2098

Sarah Hyland has been thrust back into the spotlight with her new show, "Lady Parts," as well as appearing at award shows, and her artists and designers have been giving the public some of the products that they've used.

The best part? A lot of them you can but at your local drug store, including the makeup that was used on her for the 2020 CMAs. Here is a step-by-step from Hyland's designer, Allan Avendano, that you can follow for the ultimate camera-ready glam look.

Keep Reading... Show less

I admit there was a time not so long ago when you seemed heaven-sent.

Keep Reading... Show less

We are well into spooky season, which means almost every person's partner has heard them talk about pumpkin spice and "Hocus Pocus" for the last 30 days. I applaud my own boyfriend for bearing to look at me in my decked out Halloween socks that I never seem to have a shortage on. Sadly, the end of the spooky season is right around the corner. But, not to fear, use these five unique date night ideas to spice up your last date October date night.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

The Jonas Brothers Have A New Christmas Song And I Honestly Need 5 More Minutes With This News

I think this makes it acceptable to start listening to Christmas music now, yes?

1361

It is that time of year where the most controversial question comes into play — and no, it is NOT political — is it too early to start listening to holiday music?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments