Mental disorders explained

HEADS Brain illnesses are often like any other illness.

“Just because it’s all in your head doesn’t make it any less real”.

This anonymous quotation is something I have been able to relate to more than most other quotations I have read.

From a young age, I have battled with mental health issues, and it wasn’t until two years ago I really understood what it meant to have a mental disorder.

Sometimes, I still cringe at the words “mental illness” because, like many other people, I heard those words being associated with being crazy.

It took a lot of growing up, a lot of learning and going through some traumatic events to realize it’s not even close to being synonymous with the word “crazy.”

Mental disorders are just like other disorders you can get; you just don’t always see them, that way.

Many people, including myself, think things such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or others meant you were insane and needed to be locked up in an institution somewhere.

This is wrong. Stigmas associated with mental disorders are also one of the many reasons people go un-diagnosed. They are afraid — afraid of telling people, afraid of people finding out, afraid of being judged and most of all afraid of being alone.

As a college community, we are in the age range that is most likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder, and we should be more understanding and promote awareness.

With all the stress college piles on top of us, having to worry about what people will think if you are struggling should not be another stressor. We are a community meant to support each other.

We also are setting examples for younger people, especially incoming freshman who are new to the whole experience.

I believe it is very important for people with mental health issues to feel comfortable in their environment. By defeating the stigma that has been created toward mental disorders, more people will feel comfortable.

Erasing the stigma also can get more people to seek help. It is scary to try and figure out what it means to have a mental disorder and how to treat it. It’s even harder when you confide in someone and they make fun of you for it because they don’t understand or believe in the stigmas.

We need to educate ourselves more on what exactly it means to have a mental disorder in order to help ourselves and help others.

When you hear someone talking about mental disorders in a negative way, stop him or her and inform them of what mental disorders really are.

By stopping the negative stigma associated with mental disorders, more people also will begin to feel comfortable talking about it or talking with someone who has a mental disorder. The reason many people feel uncomfortable and associate mental disorders with a negative image is because they are uninformed.

The University Counseling Center does a great job on informing and helping people. I would strongly suggest anyone who wants to be informed or needs help to go there.

The worst thing I have ever had told to me was that my mental disorder was in my brain and I could fix it myself. Since I wasn’t “controlling my brain” and “fixing it” myself, they were no longer going to talk to me.

The way I see it is, you wouldn’t say anything of the sort to someone who had cancer. Like cancer, mental disorders are something you cannot fix yourself. It is something serious that needs a lot of caring and treatment to overcome.

I hope I never hear anyone say anything like what I was told, because in a world where many other disorders are understood and people treat with compassion, mental disorders should be one of them.

Sam Gaspardo is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]