Mental Illness is Not Math

One plus one might always equal two, but people and mental health can’t be measured like math, so it frustrates me when people who have absolutely no experience with mental illness act like it can be—like we are all the same or should all be the same.

One of my daughter’s school teachers recently made a bunch of inaccurate assumptions about her and her mental health, then gave his own son as an example of how he is thriving under the same circumstances. I’ve had others who have done the same thing. They expect everyone to be exactly the same—a “1+1=2 for me or this person I know so 1+1=2 for you and this person you know” type of thing. But that simply isn’t the case when it comes to mental health.

Just because medication works great for one person doesn’t mean it will work great for someone else. Just because one person gets a lot out of therapy doesn’t mean this other person will. Just because one person thrives under pressure doesn’t mean everyone will, can or even should be expected to.

The reasons for mental illness are also varied. This same teacher made the assumption that stress from this one extracurricular activity is what is causing my daughter’s mental health struggles right now and that she just shouldn’t do it again next year. In fact, my daughter really enjoys the activity and is having fun doing it right now. Her mental illness is genetic. There is a lot of mental illness on my side and her dad’s side. She has a genetic predisposition towards it. And just because she enjoys this activity doesn’t mean it’s going to cure her. There are other things that do help her, though, so it’s important that she has the ability to do those things.

This is why I keep blogging about mental health and mental illness, why I feel so strongly that I need to keep trying to educate people. Despite how far our understanding and acceptance of mental illness has come in recent years there are still way too many people who have such an archaic belief and understanding of it. Rather than trying to put everyone is a small, tiny, tight, too-cramped box, let’s open our minds and try to be more loving and understanding.

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