Diagnosis of mental disorders is a topic of discussion among many psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors. Which symptoms are vital? Do they all fit to give a reliable diagnosis? There is so much quantitative questioning and effort to fit people into boxes that we almost forget that there is a real person suffering behind all these numbers of length of symptoms and severity.
What I find increasingly difficult is to distinguish my own thoughts, feelings and behaviours of which I show and feel normally from the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are triggered and caused by my own mental illness. It is so easy to become wrapped up in your own world and hold on to a diagnosis that from everything that happens, you may now attribute everything that you think or feel down to having a mental illness.
For example, when does feeling overwhelmingly tired, without even the energy to move from the sofa or hold a conversation due to lack of concentration become just a day where you haven’t had enough sleep? When does crying over the smallest thing become a temporary hormonal imbalance? When does coming home, slamming all the kitchen cupboards and swearing for no reason but being irritable just become a long or hard day at work or a result of stress? When does behaviour really become something that one can call a mental illness? After all; every single person on this planet has bad days.
Perhaps what we should focus on, is not the title given to an individual such as ‘clinically depressed’ but rather we should open our eyes to what is around us, see that we aren’t really alone, everybody will find it difficult when a close family member becomes very ill, when one has a bad day at work, they are unemployed or break up with their partner so we can’t use being ‘mentally ill’ as an excuse to our thoughts, feelings and behaviours in all situations but we can of course say that these events may come with a little extra difficulty on a more fragile mind.
This may seem as though I am dismissing mental illness as something less serious, but I assure you this is certainly not the case. In fact those with a mental health problem whom do have these naturally ‘bad days’ will in fact need a little extra support or care because the bad days will be exaggerated and even crippling. And even a reminder that they are not the only ones, because the fact is their judgement and clarity on the situation will indeed be clouded by the very invisible entity that gives them the diagnosis of being unwell. Those with a mental illness will already be isolated by the invisible mind monster living in their head, twisting their world so they feel alone. So the best, and perhaps the only thing we can do is to reach out, reach out to those around us and remind them that we care. Everybody deserves that.