Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Declaration for Normal People (who somehow got stuck) with a Mental Illness

When it comes to mental illness, I like to be the champion. The advocate. The information bank just waiting to enlighten and educate you. A source of awareness, a spark for understanding. But the whole world of mental illness and living with one is just as new to me as it is to many of the people I'm trying to help understand. I'm still learning, and now that I'm back at school, it feels like a crash course. And I think a lot of people with mental illnesses can relate.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why is mental illness any different?

Recently I discussed mental illness with a good friend.

She compared mental illness to a broken bone, gesturing to her leg. "You can see the broken bone, there's something that needs to be fixed."

But think about internal bleeding. Can you see that? Or lung cancer. Is that outwardly visible? Not until scans or tests are done are many illnesses and injuries visually noticeable. We first notice symptoms, then seek out the cause, and treat from there to alleviate symptoms and prevent further problems.

Why is mental illness any different? As research and technology in this area improve, we see more and more proof that brains affected by mental illness are physically and chemically different from healthy brains. There are plenty of symptoms of mental illness. Why don't we look for them? Notice them? Mental illness, untreated, can lead to complications as bad as the inability to complete basic daily tasks or even death. Why don't we seek out treatment before these are realized?

Why is our first reaction to symptoms of some illnesses to seek treatment, but other symptoms we ignore?

This friend referred to a class on psychology and pointed out the environmental factors of mental illness. "A lot of that's got to do with nature vs. nurture, though."

Let's go back to that broken bone. How did the patient get that way? Tripped on the stairs? Fell off a bike? Dropped a piece of furniture? Without preexisting conditions, bones don't spontaneously break. Some sort of environmental factor -- the stairs, the bike, the furniture, gravity -- plays a part. The same is true of the common cold, caused by germs in the environment. Or the stomach flu. Or a sprained wrist.

If we ruled out any illness or injury caused by environmental factors, I doubt we'd have many patients left who qualify for treatment.

I think a lot of the stigma and obstacles to treatment that individuals with mental illness face today have less to do with a lack of resources or information, and more to do with a lack of general awareness and knowledge. Patients with mental illness might find their struggle to be much easier if the society and world around them would just change its outlook on their condition.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Until your friend stands and looks you in the eye explaining why mental illness isn't the same as physical illness...

Until your professor refuses to let you make up an exam and get full credit after missing a medicine dose caused a missed class session...

Until your school requires you to get a three-page sheet on disability filled out in order to accept that your mental illness is real...

You don't understand. Not until it happens to you.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

International Literacy Day

Remember Grammarly? I've worked with them a little in the past here on this blog. This week featured International Literacy Day, and to celebrate, Grammarly designed an infographic about literacy. I thought you, my lovely readers, might be interested in their results.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tackling Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part One

Hello, my lovely readers! So, in a fateful twist of events, I am writing this post two weeks after its intended publication date from a conference room in an apartment building in Nebraska. How's that for unexpected? But let us proceed. We're almost done with the series!

Just a note: this series, while marketed in and popular with the YA market, was originally intended for twenty-to-thirty-something married women with kids (according to Stephenie, the author). And even if the first three books are considered pretty acceptable and fitting for the majority of YA readers, this book is definitely a grown-up book. Marriage, kids, family drama -- the works.