Admitting You May Suffer From a Mental Illness Does NOT Validate Those Who Abuse You

They are not the ones who matter.

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They are not the ones who matter … and they are not at all validated.

That would be your opinion.

In truth, a medical diagnosis serves you, the sufferer, so you could get the help you need.

You may think, ‘But what if I really am diagnosed? Getting advice online from a stranger is certainly not the same as living with crazy.

You’re not crazy, first of all. Not getting help if something is plaguing you just may be. So get the help you need, and congratulations in advance for doing so. Now, everything that’s been bothering you — the lack of motivation, even the uncontrollable mood swings and lashing out in the event of undiagnosed bipolar disorder — can be managed.

If there is a stigma that’s gnawing at you, you need to work on that yourself. I don’t believe there’s any stigma whatsoever, but I’m not you. I don’t know your pain.

But I do know you are the only one who matters. And now you are considering getting help.

That’s what’s most meaningful.

I have been around mental-emotional disorders via professional experience as a writer and former special education teacher, via extensive training in the field of Abnormal Psychology, and in my personal life via friends and family. These are some situations I have witnessed that, acknowledged, have made the seeking to get help all the tougher:

  • The mother of a family member used to constantly make fun of her daughter’s hair. Today, the mother is long since passed, but the daughter remains sensitive about her hair to the point where she will explode if anyone makes so much of a suggestion as to a hairstyle. She will then blame the outburst on “having a bad day” or “lack of sleep.” When a family member suggests she look into getting help, she’ll lash out again and insist she doesn’t need it.
  • A former high school student was a cutter, who could not manage any degree of stress and was compelled to mutilate herself in order to “feel.” She blamed sexual abuse on the part of an uncle, who used to tell her she was “ill.” I was invited to her 18th birthday by her father, and I showed up as a surprise. My former student took me to the side; she volunteered she was off all medication and doing great. She said she wanted me to know. Two weeks later, she was dead. I heard she had been severely depressed following the party and did not see real promise for a future. (Note: A very similar circumstance happened with yet another former student, a cutter who died well before her 30th birthday. She was immensely talented in so many ways and to this day I mourn the potential she left behind. Apparently, in this instance, the student had indeed successfully sought help but the years-long damage she had done to herself was irreversible.)
  • Another former student of mine died in a shoot-out with two police officers, after ending an extensive period of sobriety from alcohol and crystal meth. That story can be seen here. He used to tell me his substances were how he managed his pain, and he would not go to a doctor on his own as he believed everyone who called him “sick” would be justified.
  • A friend’s brother used to veritably torture him. The friend mentioned he suffers from “undiagnosed clinical depression,” which is clear when — on a near-daily basis — my friend talks about how downtrodden he is. When I’ve asked if he’s gone to a doctor, he told me drugs would hinder his “creativity.” My friend is a fellow writer. When I’ve pressed, he told me those who talk behind his back would talk about him all the more if they knew he was on anything, which would stunt his career.
  • I myself was painfully introverted in high school, and also suffered from what I today believe was undiagnosed ADD. I could not focus, and frankly I was miserable. My chemistry teacher nicknamed me “Mad Dog” — because I never smiled — which stuck. I didn’t get help, and I was bullied. I believed if I did get the help I felt I so seriously needed, the bullies would have found out … and won. That was the stigma I placed upon myself. I only wish I knew then what I know now.

These were but a few examples. I can go on.

Can you relate to any of this?

It is said the first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one. The following are three external benefits of admitting you may have a mental-emotional disorder that can benefit from medical attention:

  1. Those platonic relationships about which you worry will likely improve. Simply, those who do not suffer as you likely find it difficult to understand you in the midst of your suffering. Everyone has problems. Those who smile through their share generally prefer to be around others that do the same. You are likely not capable of doing so without help.
  2. Romantic relationships, if you are interested, will likely improve for the same reason.
  3. Many who suffer tend to have difficulty maintaining a job. Sometimes, this is due to lack of ability to focus, at other times due to mood. Those who employ you or work with you are generally more willing to overlook what they may consider “personal quirks” if you are able to engage with a bit more consistency.

As for you, the benefits of getting help, if you come to believe you need it, are innumerable. They include:

  • Helping take the edge off;
  • If you are creative, you will not lose your focus once your symptoms are managed. Medication or therapy, if prescribed, are experimental until the right mix is found for you.
  • Feeling better tends to trigger other beneficial behaviors, such as working out, better taking care of your health in general, and completing more tasks in your day-to-day.

Additional benefits can take pages to list.

The bottom line is this: Why suffer through life? I am well aware my logical question may well return an emotional response, as certainly the alternative may be equally horrifying, especially if suffering is what you know best.

I cannot tell you what to do, but I can unequivocally state I’ve seen the benefits on the part of those I love.

And myself.

I hope this helps.

Thank you for reading.

For those of you who believe you need help, contact your physician. For those of you who require immediate help, please call this national crisis hotline:

Or, if this option is safer for you, visit the Crisis Textline here.

Written by

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.

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