By David Joel Miller
Recovery happens – Does that surprise you?
Mental and emotional illnesses are relatively common.
Some of you are denying that you have or could ever get a mental illness. Half the population at some time in their life will have a mental illness. Depression and anxiety problems are the most common but many other emotional problems can throw you for a loss.
Among those who do develop a mental or emotional disorder the conventional wisdom has been that they are “seriously and persistently” mental ill. The implication, all too often, has been that once you get a mental health diagnosis then life is over for you.
The truth is that many people do recover from their mental illness. Some by using professional help and others recover in spite of the obstacles the system puts in the way of recovery.
Before the discovery that medications could help with mental illness the prevailing thought was that the mentally ill were “Crazy” and that once you “lost your mind” it was unlikely you would regain it. This has turned out to be untrue.
Medication can help.
For some, but not all, medication has completely changed the prognosis of mental illness. If a few days on a medication can restore someone to functional behavior then it is clear that having a mental illness is not an incurable condition.
We have also discovered that many of the things we used to consider mental illnesses were the result of a lack of skills. People who did not learn good social skills in childhood find it difficult to have good relationships in adulthood. The good news is that anything you learned incorrectly can be unlearned and that the human brain is never too old and rarely to sick to preclude the chance of learning new material.
The consumer movement emphases recovery.
One other factor has challenged the notion that once mental ill, forever sick. Because of the stigma the mentally ill have traditionally faced many people hid their diseases. More and more of those who have had a mental ill have come forward to talk openly and honestly about their struggles. This openness is sometimes referred to as the consumer movement.
It has become clear to me and to others that there are many highly functional individuals who have at one point or another in their life’s struggled with a mental, emotional or behavioral illness.
Unfortunately that discrimination against the mentally ill continues to keep people away from treatment.
In truth half of all Americans are likely to experience one or more episodes of mental illness in their lifetimes. Those fortune enough to have a strong support system and willing to seek treatment can and do recover.
Many a tragedy, personal and public, might be averted if more people could be encouraged to go for treatment rather than trying to hide their symptoms and pretend to themselves and others that they were not struggling with a mental health challenge.
Put an end to the lie – let people know – recovery happens.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books