“It’s exhausting to fight a war inside your head every single day.” An individual with a mental illnesses is found to be waging a war on two fronts – one against himself or herself and the other against the world. The fight against the world highlights the fear of talking about one’s mental illness to others which only compounds the problem of the sufferer. In such a scenario, people with mental illnesses have only one issue on their mind – “how to talk about my mental illness”.
Mental illness is a health condition of the mind that affects the way an individual thinks, feels or perceives things. Affecting an individual’s ability to carry on his/her day-to-day tasks, these conditions can also cause severe mood swings. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 43.8 million adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year.
Mental illnesses like anxiety and depression can affect an individual, belonging to any age group, caste or culture. Whoever be the patient, an individual with mental illness should go for early diagnosis so that the problem doesn’t deteriorate and complicate his/her life. Some of the common symptoms that can help identify the presence of mental illness in an individual are:
- Persistent feeling of sadness
- Confused thinking
- Excessive stress and worries
- Extreme mood swings
- Inability to sleep properly
- Excessive anger
- Changed eating habits
- Suicidal thoughts
- Low energy
- Feeling disconnected
- Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
- Increased sensitivity
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Inability to concentrate
Explaining mental illness to others
Fighting against a mental illness is exhausting. However, having a strong willpower and determination to attain recovery can make it easier. However, before an individual begins to tread the path to recovery, it is important for him/her to have a clear understanding about why it is important to talk about mental health. On gaining a clear understanding of the need to talk about mental illnesses and related issues, he/she may find it easier and relevant to explain his/her mental illness to others and hence, try to find answers to questions like how to talk about my mental health issues and who to talk about mental health problems.
Who to talk about mental illness
Before one begins to talk about his/her mental illness, it is important for him/her to shed the shame and be strong enough to take the necessary steps that can help him/her attain recovery. Every individual is different and thus, has a different support network. Be it parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, coach or teacher, one can share the details of his/her mental health issues with whom he/she feels comfortable.
The best way to talk about one’s mental illness depends on the relationship and the strength of the bond shared with the other person. In case one is bothered about things like how to talk about my mental health in the workplace, it is best for him/her to either share the details with the employer or HR in person. It is important to avoid sharing the details of one’s plight with his/her colleagues as this might end up in spreading rumors about the person and his/her health. Coming out about mental illness might be tough, but one can make it easier by understanding how should we talk about mental health.
How to talk about mental health
Mental health issues can have devastating effects on an individual’s personal as well as professional life. Therefore, it is important to seek immediate help as delaying the same might lead to devastating results. It is important to understand that mental health issues can affect an individual’s both personal and professional life. Thus, one should know how to talk about one’s mental health at work or with friends and family. Mentioned below are some of the common tips for talking about mental health:
- Initiate a conversation
Initiating a conversation is the first step toward sharing the severe trauma one has been going through. It is weird to abruptly start a conversation about one’s mental health. Therefore, the first step should be to let the listener know that there’s something important to discuss so that he/she may keep some spare time. Some of the simple yet effective ways to do so are dropping him/her a plain text message, sending a note about the need for discussion, etc.
- Do not share everything
It is not important to share the minutest details with the other person, though all relevant and health-related information must be shared. It is also advisable to be sure in advance about the experiences that one would like to discuss or else he/she might end up talking irrelevant stuff, hence, confusing the listener.
- Be honest
When a person is talking about his/her mental illness, the virtue of honesty should be followed to an extent that it does not complicate things. It is important to reveal all the necessary details about one’s mental health, but filtering is important.
- Share positive aspects too
It is likely that a person dealing with mental illness would have gained something positive and beneficial from his/her illness. Therefore, when talking about his/her mental illness, he/she must remember to explain the ways in which his/her illness helped him/her learn new things or the positive experiences he/she had even when dealing with a mental illness.
- Answer the questions raised
Whether one shares the details about his/her mental illness with his/her friends, relatives or boss, it is obvious that he/she will be asked several questions related to his/her health. But it is important for him/her to be cautious while answering such questions as there might be certain facts that he/she may not be willing to share with anyone. In such a situation, it is best to answer with simple statements like “I will answer this question later.” Using such statements won’t disturb the harmony between the two persons.
- Set healthy boundaries
It is a good decision to share one’s plight with loved ones. But before one begins to do so, he/she should try to help the other party understand the points where their advice would be required and where they should only be good listeners. Leaving such things unclear might create disharmony between the two.
- Let them know how they can support you
When one discloses the details about his/her mental illness to another person, his/her aim is to find love and seek support. This holds true for a majority of those dealing with some or the other form of mental illness. If one intends to seek support, it is better to be aware of his/her own needs ahead of time so that the required help can be asked for. While there are many who would love to help the person in need, there is a chance that the request is directly turned down. But do not worry. You should stay motivated and seek advice from a mental health professional who can guide you deal with mental health issues.
Mental illnesses are common and treatable. Therefore, instead of losing hope, one should be patient while seeking help from a medical practitioner. He/she must ensure to talk about the trauma faced by him/her as well as the situations that triggered the development of mental illness. Talking about one’s mental illness does half the job, but seeking help from a mental health expert and getting proper medication, psychotherapies or a combination of both can enable one lead a healthy and productive life again.