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No One Wants To Talk About It

June 15, 2017
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

As a society, I think we have come along way in recognizing that mental illness is a treatable disease and with therapy and proper medication a person can live a long, productive life. In fact, you may not even realize the person has a mental illness unless you are told.

That being said, I have a hard time understanding why funding for mental healthcare has been and is being cut so drastically. Do our politicians think mental illness will take care of itself? Does no one realize that mental illness affects more than just the person suffering from the disease?

Mental illness won't go away no matter how much society wants to bury their heads in the sand. It's like "If I don't talk about it, then it doesn't exist." It does exist and the more it is pushed back into a corner, the worse it gets for not only the patient but those closest to him or her.

Mental illness is not just a lower or middle class disease. Anyone, anywhere can suffer, from the little boy around the corner to The Duchess of York, Kate Middleton. Unfortunately mental illness is here to stay and most people have no idea how to deal with someone.

Learning how to deal with the challenges mental illness poses can be a real struggle for many. When my son was diagnosed as having Bipolar Depression with anxiety as well as a couple of other mental illnesses, I went online and tried to learn all that I could, some of which is not true. So here are four things you can do to be a good friend to someone with mental illness.

1.Love them - Mental illness may impact who a person is, they are not defined by the disability. They are people, the same as you and me. Look for the inner beauty, the quirks, the kindness, hobbies and pet peeves. This still involves challenges. It's simple, just love and care for them the way you do all your friends.

2.Learn about their conditions It means a lot when friends take the time to read about an illness. Educating yourself about the condition has many benefits. You may have a better understanding of why someone does (or doesn't do) whatever it is they've been doing. Just letting someone talk or understanding how you can offer assistance goes a long way. Above all, if you have questions, just ask.

3.Listen to them Sometimes a person just wants to talk about his or her troubles. It may or may not involve medical problems, but if it does just listen. It is hard to find someone who will simply listen and not judge or give suggestions. Their feelings need to come out, and having a safe person to confide in can mean the world.

4.Live your lives with them What do you like to do and how do you live your life? They like to do the same things. These are opportunities to connect, to spend time together and to just be their friend. They might decline an invitation so invite them. Even the smallest thing is worth doing.

It takes a little more effort to be friends and deal with the ups and downs with someone suffering from mental illness. There really isn't a secret formula for dealing with the issues of mental health except to be a friend. Remember, friends are jewels in life who are treasured, especially in times of trouble.



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