Mental Disorders Affect .
Mental health awareness is a topic that hits close to home, and I encourage others to speak about it more often. My passion for mental health advocacy developed from my struggles with anxiety and seeing friends and loved ones battle with symptoms. Unfortunately, one of the most challenging aspects of disorders is that they don’t always make their presence known with blazing red flags and aren’t always diagnosed.
Disorders don’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, wealth, or other factors. Despite this fact, there are still negative views toward those who may be suffering from disorders. They can be viewed as a weakness rather than a condition like any other. I hope that others will feel more comfortable talking about their symptoms by removing stigmas associated with illnesses and raising awareness. More discussions could lead to more diagnoses and discovering the best form of treatment to help. My best treatment for anxiety has been therapy and medication as needed.
** DISCLAIMER **
This article discusses mental health. I am not a medical professional. The website and article content is not meant to replace any medical or legal advice. Always speak to a licensed professional about your health, or for emergencies, reach out to 911. Use the content on this site with discretion.
I've Lived With A Mental Disorder Since Childhood
Anxiety is a squatter that has lived in my mind since childhood and will likely always. I have occasional panic attacks, which can cause rapid breathing, nausea, racing thoughts, and even digestion issues. Despite the lifelong bond, I have learned how to live with anxiety, for the most part, at least. Some days anxiety can take over. It can leave me feeling drained, both physically and emotionally. On other days anxiety barely makes a noise, and I don’t even think about it.
Despite My Symptoms, I Didn't Suspect I Had a Mental Disorder Until My Senior Year of Highschool
For half of my life, anxiety was a disorder that hid its identity even from me. It wasn’t until having a conversation in my senior year of high school that the light bulb went off in my head; that is, at least for anxiety. A friend of mine talked about their anxiety symptoms, and many of the physical effects she described matched my own. Until that point in time, I assumed everyone had similar symptoms. The only difference I thought was that maybe they learned how to cope with them better. I didn’t perceive it as an anxiety disorder; I blamed myself for not managing stress well. That light bulb was vital for me a few months later in the fall.
Receiving a Mental Disorder Diagnosis Allowed Me to Treat the Symptoms
After graduating high school, I intended to attend college in the fall of that year. The week leading up to the start of the semester, I had a flare-up of panic attacks. Then, I felt like going to college wouldn’t have been healthy. I constantly had nausea, making it hard even to want to eat. I decided to take a year off and focus on my mental health. I scheduled an appointment with my doctor and discussed my symptoms to ensure it was an anxiety disorder.
While I wouldn’t ever ask for an anxiety disorder, I’m at least thankful for a diagnosis. Once I completed that initial step, I found a medication that worked for me. Since starting that prescription in 2008, there have been periods when I didn’t need to take them. It depends on what is happening in my life and which tools work best for me during those periods. In January 2020, I added therapy to my toolkit, which has been a phenomenal help.
Treatment Programs Can Be Customized
The negative view of medication is a stigma of mental health disorder treatment that I hope will fade away. There is no difference between medication for mental health, diabetes, or even heartburn. Some patients may opt for an as-needed medication rather than a daily dose. Like other disorders, some treatment programs may not need medication instead of focusing on lifestyle or diet changes. If you are hesitant about medication or prefer holistic approaches, your doctor can help guide you in the best direction. It’s important to talk about your symptoms, as well as your goals and concerns about treatment options.
Mental Disorder Diagnoses Can Improve, and Even Save Lives
If a mental disorder continues undiagnosed or untreated, it can affect that person’s health, coping habits, and overall well-being. Those effects can extend into places of work, school, and society. The following statistics are taken directly from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
Where to Begin Seeking Help for Mental Disorders
I suggest two resources for mental health help; the first is your doctor, and the second is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). If you are the type who prefers to research online first, there is an excellent list of common symptoms, both physically and behaviorally, on NAMI’s Warning Signs page. If it’s suspected that you or someone you know may be suffering from a disorder, the NAMI HelpLine is an available resource for asking questions.
If you are struggling with a disorder, please know that help is available. Then, you can work to find a method that will best help you. One recommendation I will make is to keep a journal of your thoughts and write down any symptoms you may experience. Then, if you decide to speak to a medical professional, it can be a valuable resource.
Speaking up about symptoms can be the most challenging step. If a friend, co-worker, or loved one approaches you by asking questions, simply listening can be a lifesaver for them. Offer as much help as you emotionally can in a way that maintains any boundaries you may need. You can offer the NAMI helpline number, 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or if required, the suicide hotline, which is now 988.