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home : columns : columns May 27, 2016

6/17/2014 1:46:00 PM
Of a certain age...
By Diane Goble

You know how you sometimes read an article about some disease, and you start thinking you have all the symptoms so you must have that disease? This month is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness, and I was just looking at an infographic someone shared on Facebook titled "Facing Mental Illness" and I realized, OMG, we're all crazy!

One in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness, 6.1 million are bipolar, 15.7 million suffer from depression, 1 in 5 children have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder, 9.6 million adults have ADHD. No wonder the world is in such a mess.

Of course back in the '60s they turned all the people with mental problems loose for humanitarian reasons, leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets. Now they just give people drugs to control their symptoms - which patients then forget to take because of their symptoms - and they spiral out of control.

The infographic put out by NIMH and the Mayo Clinic states that "Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functions. Mental illnesses affect tens of millions of people each year, only a fraction of whom receive treatment." Instead, $100 billion is spent annually in the United States on addiction treatment, incarceration, homeless shelters and other preventable difficulties, like lost productivity at work, road rage, domestic violence, mass shootings.

Ya think that's because there's such a stigma about "mental" issues? This is where education comes in. A mental-health problem is no different than a physical-health problem that needs diagnosis and treatment. It's all in the same body - what affects your mind affects your body, and vice versa.

Mental-health issues can occur at any time in life, including in utero. Life happens! It could be biological, caused by a virus; it could be the result of an injury, especially to the head; it could be the result of a traumatic event or extreme fear or mind-control or drugs.

It isn't your fault and it isn't a curse or a spell or the work of the devil. So get over it. If you're depressed, addicted, obsessive, angry, not thinking right, not functioning in the world, take your bad self in for a check-up. Life is too short, and full of fun and interesting things to do and people to meet, to waste time worrying about what other people think. That's just nuts!

Too many people resist treatment because they believe it isn't serious, that they can treat it themselves with positive affirmations, or that it is a personal weakness rather than a serious illness that can be treated with an integrated approach - perhaps a medication and a daily yoga class. We owe it to ourselves and our families to educate ourselves about these bodies we walk around in.

A good place to start your education online is at and look for support groups and mental-health experts in your community.

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