Helping Women Find Peace of Mind
Each month, Hope for Women will answer your questions concerning mental health. We are always happy to hear from you, so please send your inquiries our way. While this column utilizes the opinions of a mental health expert, it in no way takes the place of mental health counseling. This month, mental health expert Camishe Nunley answers some basic concerns you might be wondering.
What does it mean to have a mental illness? This is a great question, because mental health is a highly stigmatized field, and often misconceptions are drawn, especially by filmmakers in movies that attempt to depict those suffering from any number of diagnoses.
In order to define mental illness with clarity and not use a textbook method, it’s important to note that at various times we all experience symptoms that are consistent with mental health disorders. The key is not to self-diagnose or be too concerned with the diagnosis itself. Instead, lean into the understanding that you are not whichever symptom or diagnosis you are labeled. Mental illnesses are psychological conditions that cause dysfunctions in the areas of thinking, emotions, mood and daily life. When experiencing a mental illness, it is difficult to have access to healthy ways of coping or making rational decisions. Common mental illnesses are depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety disorders. More severe diagnoses are Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, bipolar disorders, schizophrenias and personality disorders.
Once someone has had a mental illness, can he or she ever get better again? Another good question! It can feel scary to be diagnosed with a mental illness, as it can with any medical conditions. However, that scary feeling tends to dissipate after you have been properly educated on the diagnosis given. Typically, the first thought for clients is whether or not the diagnosis will be a lifelong issue or if there is a quick way to rid yourself of the symptoms.
The answer is that it depends. In large part, it is contingents upon on a number of factors: age, pervasiveness, diagnosis, client’s level of insight, education, treatment, etc. Most clients diagnosed with mental illnesses are able to recover and live functional lives. For the most part, once treatment is sought and completed, there is a significant possibility of overcoming the symptoms without them ever returning. For some, however, if the treatment approach is ineffective, if clients are afraid of change or if the motivation to change does not exist, symptoms tend to cycle and continue to cause significant problems for clients. The key is to do as much research as possible on the diagnosis given, seek treatment sooner rather than later, find a practitioner who specializes in that area of treatment and diagnosis, and then complete the treatment process.
If you are suffering psychologically or emotionally as a result of relationship issues, parenting or even grief/trauma, please write in your questions to Hope for Women today. We want to help you along your journey to healing so that you, too, can overcome. From fear to faith and despair to hope, we all have it within us to survive and thrive!