Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Continuing on Mental Illness

It's been a while since my last mental illness post. The next few disorders I'm addressing are more complicated than GAD, Panic, OCD, and Depression. They've taken a bit longer to put together.

I have a brother-in-law who, while in college, has taken many chemistry classes. On my end, the last chemistry class I took was my sophomore year in high school...11 years ago. While I've seen chemistry all around me since then, I wouldn't even dream of giving my brother-in-law my opinions regarding chemistry rules, equations, reactions, etc. I simply do not have the educational background that he has in that subject.

Likewise, I know of many people who have strong, yet inaccurate opinions regarding (1) mental illness in general, (2) mental illness in a friend/relative, and (3) the capacity of mental health professionals in general to do their jobs...even though they do not have the educational background to really know what they're talking about. Hence, those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness usually go about it this way:

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I've heard people say that those who have depression are just lazy and using depression as an excuse.

Those who have depression would strongly disagree.

I've heard people say that those with anxiety disorders are just insecure drama kings/queens who freak out over little things to get attention.

Those who have an anxiety disorder probably wish that such an idea were really all it was.

Some people disagree with a mental health professionals' diagnosis of a friend/relative even though they are not mental health professionals and haven't taken anything more than a general psychology college class (which doesn't cover mental illness), if they've even taken a psychology class at all. They feel that because they've known the friend/relative longer than the psychologist/psychiatrist, they must know more about what's going on.

But that's where the bias comes in: because the person is so close to you, you have a hard time seeing things from a completely objective point of view. That's why it's against many professional ethical codes for said professionals to treats close friends or family members. Whether or not you care to admit it, close friends and family members are always biased in some way; some biases are good while others aren't. That's why it's so important to follow the professional's instructions so that you can know how to be a positive support system, instead of either dismissing the problem completely or "treating it" the wrong way.

My next posts will be on Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder (a.k.a. multiple personalities), and what I will call the Conduct Disorder Trio: Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Like GAD, OCD, Panic, and Depression, there are many people out there who see these disorders as an excuse for eccentric or bad behavior (especially the Conduct Disorder Trio). Many people blame psychologists and psychiatrists for giving a person the excuse he/she needs to "act out." And you know what? Maybe it did start from bad behavior; maybe it was bad parenting or a bully at school; perhaps genetics are the culprit. Regardless of the cause, the disorder does exist and needs to be treated.

When we get sick, It's nice to be around people who are willing to be there and support you. Likewise, the goal of these posts is (1) to facilitate basic understanding of these disorders and (2) encourage respect and support for those who have been diagnosed with them. The more support and understanding they have, the easier it is to overcome/control what they're going through.

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