The Media Can Be Misleading About Mental Illness Recovery


Anyone who sees a loved one depressed, anxious or manic, wants them to seek help and get better. It’s understandable. Who wouldn’t?

There are also tons of well-meaning phrases that people in the media throw at you. “You’re not alone.” “Help is out there.” “You don’t have to live like this.” “Reach out.” While all of these statements have truth to them and are more than likely said from a place of good intentions, they may not be so helpful.

Here’s why:

First, when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety it took me many months to find a decent doctor. A lot of doctors out there do not listen to you, put you in a box and love to over-prescribe pills. In my case, I cannot take most medications as the side effects are too severe for me to handle. The depression is easier to cope with than the side effects. This has left me seeking alternative treatments like acupuncture, meditation and dietary changes. Not every doctor is open to this. You have to do what’s best for you and it may not always be embraced by the medical community.

Second, the same is true for therapists. I was treated awful by one therapist. He said very inappropriate things to me which I will not get into here, but let’s just say that he probably should have lost his license. Aside from that, finding the right therapist takes time. It’s almost like dating. You have to find one that you click with, who understands your journey and is willing to work WITH you.

Third, taking a pill and going to therapy doesn’t always mean that, “poof!”– you are now magically all better. For many of us with mental illness, it is a series of stops and starts. You try one med and it works…then it doesn’t. You find one good doctor and then then he moves. You try a new med and a new doctor and both end up being a bust. You’re back to square one. You research more treatments. You read books. You join support groups. You learn. You get better and then sometimes worse. And then better again.

Fourth, family members and friends don’t always understand your issues and either don’t take the time to because they either don’t care or they just don’t know how to be there for you. So relationships end up being a roller-coaster and are subject to strain.

While all of this may sound really negative, it’s not meant to. It’s meant to combat the myth that we hear so often when we encourage people to seek help for their mental health. That myth being that once you reach out, go to a therapist and state your feelings–then magically, all will be well. While it’s possible to go to one therapist and one doctor and get one pill that will make you feel almost 100 percent better, that is often not the reality for most people. It’s a journey. It’s YOUR individual journey. I can’t say it will be easy. It’s worth taking, though. Seek answers. Be your own advocate and keep going. When you can’t keep going, take a break. Let it all go for a while. Then start again.

Author: Stephen Fratello

Come read my mind...

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