Dear You (I’m sorry I don’t know your name),
This is just a short letter to share a few of my thoughts with you from someone else who has a mental illness. I know this might seem strange as I’ve never met you but I feel sure there are things we can both relate to and I hope some of the things I talk about are among them.
The first thing I want to say to you is that no matter what you feel, you are not alone. You may already realise this and if that’s the case then I’m glad. If you don’t realise this now then please know that whatever you’re facing you don’t have to deal with it alone no matter how it may feel. There may be times when it feels like you are on your own but that is what the mental illnesses want us to believe in their fight to conquer us. They are however lying to us. There are so many places to get support. Please don’t give up on that.
The next thing I want to say may be slightly controversial and definitely hard to believe. It is that mental illness has some positives. I personally have made some of my best friends as a result of having my mental illness. It has led to me meeting them. Don’t get me wrong, mental illness can be devastating but it has taught me so much as well. I would never wish mental illness on anyone but there have been some good things that have come from it.
Another thing I wish to share with you is to say that recovery may not happen as you expect it. I believe recovery is possible (I do have days when it’s harder to believe this so totally understand if you don’t believe in it) but I also believe it takes many ups and downs to get there. I believe it’s not a straight forward process and that slip ups will happen along the way but that it is possible. If you don’t believe in recovery now then obviously that’s fine, but I hope you believe and see it someday soon as I believe in it for you.
One last thing I want to say to you is this: don’t keep quiet. Sharing your story, asking for help or discussing your mental illness in anyway can only be good. You may get negative comments from some people but those people are not worth your time and need educating. For every negative comment there will be a positive somewhere along the way.
Remember you’re awesome for carrying on the fight. Keep Strong.
Another person with a mental illness.
This years World Mental Health Day was focusing on dignity in mental health and towards those who have mental illnesses. Therefore I thought I would write about what dignity in mental health means to me and how I see it at the moment. I also thought I’d share some experiences and how I felt they affected my dignity. These are my own personal views.
Part of the definition of dignity that I looked up talked about a feeling of worthiness and self respect. These are two elements that I think are important to consider when looking at dignity in mental health. Being treated with dignity should be about being treated like we are worth treatment and support. Sometimes this is not the case and it can have a negative effect on the individual who is being treated. After an attempt on my own life I was made to feel I was wasting people’s time and this led to me feeling worse about myself than I was already feeling. This I believe was due to staff showing a lack of care about my dignity and not making me feel I was worth the effort of treatment,
I have also had good experiences where I was made to feel like I was totally worth the treatment I required and therefore was treated with dignity. This is particularly the case with my GP who is fantastic and very supportive. She respects me and treats me with dignity at all times. This in turn means that I feel that I can discuss my care and treatment more openly with her and I know that if I have any symptoms or things that are worrying me I can easily talk it through with her without fear of judgement. This is the care we all deserve in all areas of the health system; not just mental health but physical health too. Unfortunately this is not always the case as my previous experience has shown.
I also mentioned that the definition I looked at for the word dignity mentioned self respect. I think this is important too. I have previously written about self stigmatisation and I think that by self stigmatising I have shown a lack of self respect and also therefore a lack of dignity towards myself. If we are to expect dignity from other people towards our mental health then we need to also show dignity towards ourselves. I understand that this is easier said than done. I myself struggle to feel worthy of treatment and help at times especially when my mental health is at its worst. This is another reason dignity from other people is so important in mental health as we need to learn from others that we are worthy of being shown dignity and we need to also learn how to do that sometimes. Thinking back to my GP she has shown me that I do need to discuss what is going on in my head and therefore by her listening I open up more. This is an example of being taught my worth and how to respect myself and my mental health. In turn this teaches me how to have dignity for my own mental health.
Overall dignity in mental health means to me that we are shown and taught our worth as well as learning how to be respected and respect ourselves. To me this is something that is majorly important in improving the treatment of those of us who have mental illnesses. I know that many staff already do a fantastic job and I hope they continue to do so and teach others that dignity is necessary for recovery.