Mental Health Is Not What It SEEMS

mental health is not what it seems

Many people have asked me if I’m doing alright since my mother has passed, and truly I am coping in the best way that I know how. Something that mildly irritates me though, is that normally, whenever I say that I’m doing the best that I can, people tend to follow up with “Yeah, you seem like you’re doing really well”.

What does that mean exactly?

I know that it hasn’t been very long since her death, but am I supposed to be visibly upset in order to show that it bothers me? Should I be weeping uncontrollably in order for people to sincerely engage me in conversation and dig deep enough to figure out how I am actually doing?

I may say that I’m doing alright or that I’m coping, but honestly there’s a tempestuous storm of questions and emotions raging inside of me most of the time that no one but my wife and a very select few others are aware of. Sometimes I wonder if this is how my mother and many other people who struggle with depression and various other mental illnesses feel whenever people ask “How are you doing”?

People ask, but most of the time they don’t really want to know, it’s mostly just a greeting instead of an actual question. I wonder if my mom felt that way when she talked to people. I wonder if she felt as if she really couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on inside of her mind because they didn’t actually care or because they may judge her. I hate the fact that she felt as if taking her own life was the only answer to her problems and that she didn’t have any help available to her.

I know that she was a wonderful woman and many other people have expressed that they knew that as well. What pains me is when individuals continue to say things like, “I can’t believe that she took her own life, she seemed so joy filled and happy”.

Mental health is not what it SEEMS.

Just because someone seems like they are doing alright doesn’t mean that they actually are. There is a significant amount of stigma associated with issues surrounding mental health and that makes it extremely difficult for those who are suffering to talk about what they are going through. They would rather suffer in silence than take the chance of speaking out and risk being ridiculed or judged out in the open. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2012 there were an estimated 9.6 million people that suffered from a serious mental illness in the U.S. and an estimated 43.7 million who suffered from any mental illness.

Given these incredibly high statistics, there is no telling who might be suffering from a mental illness right next to you. It could be someone at your place of work, someone in your own home, or you might be dealing with your own challenges on a daily basis. I am hopeful that more consideration will be given to discussing mental health issues out in the open and dismantling some of the stigma that surrounds it.

I have recently chosen to #StartTheConversation about mental health and mental illness in my own circle of influence strictly based on what I have experienced. While I understand that it may be too late to have the conversation with my mother, there is still plenty of time left to #StartTheConversation with someone else.

I hope that as we begin to #StartTheConversation people will begin to talk about mental health simply for what it is, because mental health is not what it seems.

– MR

2 thoughts on “Mental Health Is Not What It SEEMS

  1. miningfordiamonds says:

    One of the hardest things about treatment for those who are mentally ill is that often the one who is mentally ill is completely unaware of just how sick they are. It’s not only because they’re trying to hide it or are afraid of stigma. But one hallmark of mental illness is not thinking there is anything wrong at all, which makes it extremely difficult to get any kind of help. If the person is not a threat to themselves or others, i.e. talking about and/or actively threatening to harm themselves or someone else, there is no obligation for them to get treatment, because to be mentally ill is not a crime, although it may cause the person to act in criminal ways, which results in jail time instead of treatment. The only time people are involuntarily treated is if they are in a crisis that puts them, or others, in harms way. Even then, the treatment is never nearly as long as it needs to be, and then even if they are treated, there is no guarantee that the person will CONTINUE treatment. This is why so many mentally ill are either in jail, or homeless.

    On top of that, IF the person DOES seek treatment voluntarily, again it is never adequate. Medications are expensive, and so are hospital stays.

    So it really feels like a no win situation. Honestly, I don’t know what the answer is, but whatever it is, I don’t believe it can be found in “the system.” I married a man with a diagnosed mental illness, and I am essentially raising my daughter alone because of his choices/condition has caused him to leave us. He remains untreated, and at the mercy of an extremely flawed mental health system. And there is not a thing I can do about it. I almost would have preferred he had cancer or some other physical illness. I know that sounds awful, but it is the truth. He was never suicidal, never threatened to hurt himself or others, never was a danger to me or my daughter or anyone else…and yet he is out of touch with reality and is not able to function. It’s so very sad. We pray for him daily, but beyond that there really isn’t much else we can do. If it was not for my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and knowing that HE is bigger than any “system”, I would have lost hope. And yet, I remain hopeful that one day my husband will be healed and restored to his right mind and his family.

    One way I would like to see the conversation continued is in the direction of support for those of us with loved ones who are mentally ill. The stigma is not just against the person WITH the mental illness, but for those of us who care for these individuals or are related, or are in some way in a close relationship with someone who is mentally ill. It can be exhausting, isolating, and oh, so hard.

    I have a blog where I share about how my daughter and I live our lives in the midst of these circumstances,, in case you or your readers are interested in connecting. I appreciate what you are doing here, and I’m just so sorry about your mom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derrell Jamison says:

      You know, that actually makes a lot of sense to me. No one can really seek treatment or help if they don’t know how serious their illness is. This is part of the reason why I think it’s important that people begin talking about mental health on a broader scale. Opening the lines of communication will make it possible for people to have more understanding of the signs and symptoms of certain mental illnesses and that will help with the recognition and treatment in the long run. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing about your own experiences as well.


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