No Such Thing as Crazy

Mental illness is something many of us don’t understand; Then again, many of us do. Mental illnesses are a wide range of disorders caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, misfiring neurons, or extremely psychologically damaging events. This includes, but is not limited to, mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Something many people who suffer from mental illness ask questions that we find very familiar. “Why did this happen to me?” is a common one, but the most chilling question is. “Did I do something wrong?” Let me be clear mental illness is not a moral issue, its not a judge of who you are as a person, and it doesn’t make you a bad person just for being sick. That’s right, people or are mentally ill are sick, they have a disease. This isn’t to say their actions are 100% forgivable, and if you suffer from a mental illness not everything you do can be blamed on your illness. But something many people from the Boomer Generation, and the generations before them, even Generation Y, don’t understand is that mental illness is a real sickness, it can’t be cured like other illnesses, but it can be managed and controlled.

Dealing with mental illness is an uphill battle no matter who you are. Someone who is properly medicated all their life could have a break and end up hospitalized. This isn’t a failure. Let me emphasize that getting help for mental illness is not submitting to the idea that you have failed at life, or you are a weak person, it means quite the contrary. People who know they need help, and are willing to seek it no matter what, are very strong, both in will and character.

But what about treatment? Many people suffer from mental illness and don’t know where to start, or don’t have the recourses necessary to get treated. Groups like NAMI can offer a wide range of help for people with little to no resources by helping an individual through their wide array of support groups. They also give suggestions on what the next. Many treatments have been devised for mental illness; Ranging from talk therapy to ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). The first and most important step in getting treated for mental illness is acknowledging you are sick and that you need help. Then talk therapy is probably the best next step. A licensed social worker or a psychologist will give the best results. Don’t assume medications are the first step. Many medicines that treat mental illness don’t work for everyone, for example. An antidepressant could work for someone’s mother but not for them. Medicines are not a last resort but should be an option used when talk therapy isn’t enough or isn’t working. A combination of different treatments is probably the best option for people who have already tried to get help. But before you go off researching medicines, talk to a doctor, and never self medicate.

Drugs to treat mental illness, known as psycho-pharmaceuticals, are not a cure all. Many take up to a month to build up in the body to begin to be effective. But they do help. Be ready to feel like a lab rat at times if you choose this route though. Some drugs don’t always work for some people, sometimes a drug will work but the dosage will have to be adjusted, and sometimes the side effects are unbearable. This is why therapy needs to be combined with medicine to get the best results. It helps individuals voice their concerns about medicine with someone who will listen and give suggestions about what to say and help you through those feelings. Psychologists are not therapists, they are doctors with a medical degree, and we all know how some doctors are with bedside manner.

If you think you may be suffering from a mental illness, don’t be afraid to get help. Don’t be afraid of judgment or those feelings of failure. Because being stable and healthy, even for a time, is the greatest feeling any one of us with mental illness can feel.

This article was written by Ben May, a writer for dusk magazine. 

5 Comments on No Such Thing as Crazy

  1. Hi Ben,
    I’m curious to know your personal experiences with mental illnesses. You talk like an expert, so I’m just curious to know where you are coming from. There is some good advice in this article. I would personally recommend Cognitive Behavior Therapy as a step in the treatment process. It might not have been for me when I was first diagnosed with Schizophrenia, but when the opportunity came to try this treatment, I took it and I am glad I did.

    Nice article and God Bless


    • Hey Biographguy!

      I have a lot of experience with mental illness. I deal with bipolar disorder, ODC, and acute anxiety. Growing up with mental illness is one of the toughest things anyone can do, feeling like a Guinea Pig to doctors, or patronized by therapists or LSW’s is pretty common when you’re young and starting out. But the scariest thing is when you’re young and have to be hospitalized. My first hospital visit was when I was sixteen and I’ve been back since then. Although I may not feel great about going back every year since my first visit, I never see it as a failure. Being in that kind of environment, isolated from the world and everything you care about is hard, especially if you aren’t willing to participate in things like group therapy, which is key to the process of getting better. I’ve done a lot of research on mental illness for the four years I’ve been really dealing with it, I say this because mental illness presents itself at strange time so I’m unsure how long I’ve actually been dealing with it. I found writing down your symptoms first and then hiding pencils and pens while researching them is best so one doesn’t develop “Med Student Syndrome,” and think they’re one thing, when they’re just over relating to a specific topic. I admire people who deal with mental illness and are dedicated to getting stable and healthy, as well as people who try to build a community of people who need the help and support. I’ve been trying to do this in my community for years with no success, but that doesn’t mean others can’t try. Thank you so much for your kind words and I wish you the best of luck with your own illness.
      Stay Strong!

      Ben May


    • btothemay // May 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm // Reply

      Hey Biograpguy!

      I have a lot of personal experience with mental illness. I deal with bipolar disorder, OCD, and acute anxiety. I’ve found the best treatments can be found based on individual preference because psychology and psychiatry can be tricky, as one can feel like lab rat with all the different meds and treatments you’d have to go through to find one that works for only a little while and then you have to start over. It’s been an arduous process with my own illness as well as enlightening. I am not a doctor or a licensed social worker and have no professional experience with this, but I am well versed in the treatments, terminology, and psychology of mental illness. As my mom says, “It’s the cracked one’s who let the light in,” I wish you the best of luck and hope for your own illness in your journey through life with mental illness.

      Stay Strong!

      Ben May

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a wonderful article. The stigma attached to mental illness can be just as devastating as the illness itself. No one likes to be socially isolated because of something someone else did or for serving their own country. CBT is one of the leading therapies out there; natural treatments are also available.


  3. I’m confident that both pharmaceuticals and other traditional medical approaches will get better in the future. The crucial point is that it’s never an either-or proposition. I get frustrated both by those who are strongly against psychotropics and those who argue that a mental illness is basically like diabetes and all you need to do is keep up on your medication. (Diabetes doesn’t even work that way: a doctor that tells a diabetes patient that all he needs to do is keep track of his blood sugar and insulin is letting down that patient). My view of the issue, based on my interactions with clients, is that medication makes it possible for some to do the work, but it doesn’t substitute for the work. With a schizophrenic, for example, the medication may let them get controlled enough to actually be able to think with some degree of coherence, but it’s not enough to get over the confusion and shallow affect. That takes the work, including CBT, REBT, more traditional psychodynamics, etc.


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