In the early stages of mental illness, it is hard to both understand and accept the way in which it affects you. In your mind, you’ve been able to cope with your entire life or maybe it hasn’t affected you since you were a child. Everyone’s timeline with mental health is very different. While many theorists agree that it forms in our childhoods, as does the way we cope, there can be triggers in our adult life. Whether that be life transitions, being truly on your own, marriage, etc.
“I just feel sad sometimes”
“I always feel tired”
“I just overthink”
“It’s not that I have anxiety, I just can’t control my thoughts sometimes”
There are a few different reasonings that come to mind when clients tend to minimize their illness.
The knowledge principle comes from a general misunderstanding of what mental illness is, the definition of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, etc. They may not have ever learned or taken the time to learn about what these might mean to them. The fear principle is the denial that they have it or the denial that they suffer from a mental illness in general. Again, this thinking of I’ve been able to handle my stress my whole life but I’m overwhelmed now because of this or that. Lack of acceptance works with both of these principles and the negative thinking of and perhaps the intimidation of those who do suffer from mental illness and not allowing themselves to see that symptoms and timelines may be different, which allows them to refute the beliefs that they may have a certain mental health issue depending on severity.
Every mental illness looks a little different: symptoms, severity (mild, moderate, severe) and a different catalyst in which we learn to understand it. Stigma has always played a harsh role in mental health. Not many people want to say, “I suffer from anxiety”, they’d rather say “I overthink a lot”. Subconsciously we are giving power to the word and the way it affects us. Owning up to the role it plays in our life, the way we see it, and the way in which we communicate about it play a bigger role in our recovery and coping.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time confronting a mental health issue, wanting to learn more about possible diagnoses, etc. reach out to a counselor at Orlando Thrive today. To speak directly with the author of this blog, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thrive on!