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Misconceptions of Mental Illness, Facts You Should Know


Not So Crazy After All

There are so many myths out there about what causes mental illness, you don't know what to believe. There are just as many misconceptions about mental illness that are just not true. You may have heard all kinds of disinformation about people who have a mental illness, things like they are violent, and dangerous, or people with schizophrenia are murderous maniacs who kill and molest children.

Or they are just downright lazy, if they tried a little harder they could just get over it. These misconceptions, are just that, harsh misconceptions. These kinds of beliefs are what stigmatizes people with a real mental illness. This kind of thinking is what keeps people with mental disorders in the closet. Hiding from treatment, fear of being made fun of, fear of being called crazy. the loss of friends and family, or much worse.

Mental illness can be caused by many factors. Heredity can be one factor. Often times it can be inherited from a parent or grandparent. Trauma can play a huge role in mental illness. Losing a job, going through a divorce, a death of loved one, deteriorating health issues, serious financial woes, all can add stress and trigger emotional problems that can heighten an ongoing mental illness such as depression, and anxiety disorders.

Hiding From Mental Illnes Only Breeds Stigma

Hiding From Mental Illnes Only Breeds Stigma

There is always hope

There is always hope

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The Real Facts

1. Psychiatric disorders are genuine medical illnesses in and of the brain. Scientists have begin to recognize the correlation between chemicals in the brain and mental illness. They are learning more about the specific chemicals and locations in the brain where specific reactions take place. This research suggests the biological and genetic factors can be the cause psychiatric disorders.

It is not your fault. Having a mood disorder is not like getting cootie's. Mental Illness not contagious. You did not wake up one day and ask for a mental illness. Some contributing factors of mental illness disorders can birth trauma, chemical imbalances in the brain, and biological, environmental, social and cultural factors.

These serious psychiatric disorders can to be treated with the proper medications. Therapy along with medication treatment can also be an option as well. There are people who do not get a lot out of therapy. While others find it to be an additional advantage. Only you can decide the course of treatment that will work for you.

There is no cure for mental illness, but there are treatments options. It isn't always going to be a pleasant little ride. There are absolutely good days and bad. Time and again medications might suck, with some medications you have the blood draws that can be annoying, you might gain weight from certain medications, side affects that unhinge you. But eventually you find some middle ground. A normal or gray area when things are okay. If you work at it, life can be good.

2. Society may have the impression that people with a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are violent, uncontrollable, unpredictable and raging. When in fact most people with mental illnesses are much more likely to be the victim of a crime as opposed to committing one. The vast majority of a mentally ill person is not violent. These inaccurate beliefs are what leads to widespread stigma and discrimination.

I have seen this way to often. I have had my share of getting bullied just for walking out of a "crazy" clinic as I heard them remarks as. Some people are just misinformed and judgmental. They often want you to believe we are the ones who are violent and committing all the crime rampages. When that is just not the case. Crimes are committed everyday by your regular garden variety normal person. But we are still called crazy. And they are still called normal.

There is a small portion of mentally ill people who are a risk to society and need to be imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. These facts cannot be denied. There are more than 1.2 million people with mental illness in U.S. jails or prisons, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

3. You cannot make mental illness go away. As much as I and probably thousands of others have tried to make it disappear, it is not going to just go away. Many people being treated for a mental illness can and are able to lead fulfilling lives in their community, friends and family.

It all depends on the treatment plan you follow for yourself. How well you work together with a psychiatrist, and/or therapist, if you take your medications, and how well you balance the rest of your life.

There are treatment services and community based support systems available. It is just a matter of finding them and integrating them into your life. There is no reason a person with a mental illness should have to go without treatment. There are local and national services available to help those who need it. Follow the links for more information.




4. Mental Illness is not caused by bad parenting. I am positive many people looking through their little magnifying glass will make some judgments on how I traveled around the bend. My mother wasn't paying attention, my daddy was a rip roaring badass. They were both raging alcoholics, perhaps they were always locking me in the broom closet. Now that might cause bad behavior, but it didn't cause my bipolar disorder. It may exaggerate my symptoms, but they didn't cause me to be mentally ill.

I am sure there are folks who will argue differently. But I had a lot of problems and not just because my parents were ranting through most of my childhood. Swatting me with a switch did not make a genetic imbalance. It made me hate tree's with switches. Calling me over emotional did not make me have manic depressive mood swings. Bipolar is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Causing moods to swing from manic to depression.

5. Depression does not make you weak or lazy, it is caused by chemical changes in the brain. That is NOT your fault. With treatment you can a better quality of life if you so choose to. There have been many members of society who went on to have a successful career despite having a severe mental illness. I am bet they were called a lot of names along the way too. Weak and lazy is as bad as stupid and ugly. Besides I like being lazy sometimes. Especially when I don't feel like doing anything.

Check out this impressive list of people, they purportedly have been touched by madness of some sort.

  • Isaac Newton-Physicist, philosopher
  • Charles Dickens-English Novelist
  • Patty Duke-American Actress
  • Linda Hamilton-American Actress
  • Patricia Cornwell-American Author
  • Vincent Van Gogh-Dutch Painter
  • Winston Churchill-British Politician

6. Many people believe that schizophrenia is a split personality. It most certainly is not. It is an illness that affects people to not think clearly or logically. There is often a significant loss of contact with reality. You might see or hear things that do not exist, you might speak in strange or confusing ways, or believe that others are trying to harm you, or feel like you are being constantly watched. Schizophrenia seems to be caused by a combination of problems including genetic vulnerability and environmental factors that occur during a person's development.

Learn More about Schizophrenia here

I lived with a young man who was afflicted with severe schizophrenia. He was tormented his entire life. He was a great artist, a kind human being. Drawings of every imaginable creature spread entire bedroom wall. He constantly paced, talked continuously, screamed, voices kept him awake nearly always, until one day he took an overdose of medication and his light, is now dark. He is sadly missed everyday.

7. It is normal for the elderly to become depressed. Unfortunately it too often goes unrecognized because it is usually not reported. The elderly are sometimes very isolated, so their depression is frequently overlooked. Many Doctor's tend to brush off their mental complaints and concentrate more on their physical ones. Seniors are not likely to talk about their depression, nor ask for help.

To learn more about elderly depression go here

8. Children often develop mental illnesses. One in ten children and teenagers are affected by some form a mental disorder. It too, often gets ignored as regular teenage angst, rebellion, and temper tantrums. Children and teenagers have other ways at expressing their symptoms. If you look hard enough you might get lucky and save your child from a lot of unnecessary misery. A lot of these symptoms could be bad behavior, so look closely.

Common Symptoms of Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder

•Separation anxiety
•Explosive temper tantrums
•Marked irritability
•Frequent mood swings
•Silliness, goofiness
•Racing thoughts
•Aggressive behavior
•Carbohydrate cravings
•Difficulty getting up in the morning
•Social anxiety
•Oversensitivity to emotional or environmental triggers

9. And so, we, the ones with mental illnesses can and do get better, with medications, proper therapy and a positive treatment plan. We do of course have relapses, because treatment is not a cure. It is an ongoing condition that needs to be treated most likely for the rest of our lives. Having supportive family, friends and peers in our network can be helpful. Because sometimes we cannot do it alone. Reaching out and asking for help is one step forward to getting better.


Jeff Durst on September 18, 2014:

Thank you very much for this article. I am always afraid of admitting I suffer from a mental illness for many of the reasons you mentioned. I appreciate your braveness in sharing and shining a light on some of the stigmas that exist.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on June 11, 2013:

Thanks for expressing your opinion.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on June 11, 2013:

They aren't claims. Every Psychiatrist I ever went to informed me of such. Just so you know I didn't pull the information out of a hat. Thanks for expressing your opinion.

Brian Newman on June 01, 2013:

We don't need to convince people that mental illness is a real medical disorder. If a person has experienced some sort of trauma in their life and suffer psychological symptoms as a result, do they really want to be told they have a medical disorder? I like to think of it being in the same category as a broken leg: still causes a lot of pain and dysfunction, and still deserves the same level of medical attention as a "real" medical disorder like diabetes or cancer. But rather than blaming the person's pain on a medical disorder and giving them medication that numbs the pain but does not fix the leg, we acknowledge that an event has occurred that caused the damage and take measures to repair the break. In the same way, we acknowledge that someone who suffers psychological scarring has suffered an event which caused their pain and that is something that can be treated with psychological therapy. This is not to say that every case of depression or anxiety is caused by psychological events, we can't rule out the influence of genetic influences, we just need to make sure we don't try to convince the world that in order for someone's pain to be taken seriously it needs to be chemical. My point is that we don't need to try to convince people that mental disorders are real, the important thing is that the pain people with mental health issues is real.

Brian Newman on June 01, 2013:

Where did you get the information for these claims? As a psychology major I can tell you that the chemical imbalance hypothesis is just that - a hypothesis, and one which the field of psychiatry is starting to doubt. I appreciate the efforts of you and many like you to reduce to stigma of mental illness and convince society to take it seriously, but I worry that people are beginning to believe that in order to make people take it seriously they need to prove that mental illness is a biological disorder. I see many articles like the one you've written here, and the most common argument people make is that mental illness is a genuine, medical disorder caused by chemical changes in the brain. The truth is that saying things like this is overly simplifying mental illness. Many psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety can be caused by psychological processes, where particular behaviours or emotions are learnt. Conditioning is an entirely normal process which sometimes acts to our disadvantage when we learn negative behaviours or feelings. By trying to convince society that mental illnesses are causes by chemical imbalances - like biological malfunctions in people's brains, we are placing the cause inside them, rather than focussing on the childhood trauma they may have experienced, or the social repression or whatever unfortunate circumstances they have endured.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on April 08, 2013:

Thank you Jennifer. yes I wish we weren't so stigmatized. By educating people about bipolar we are allowing them to see we are not monsters.

Jennifer Bart from Texas on April 05, 2013:

Great job! Thank you for sharing and raising awareness on mental illness. It is so stigmatized in this world and so misunderstood. I myself have Bipolar disorder so I really appreciate this article. Very well said.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on April 01, 2012:

Thank you for your comment EuroNinila, I appreciate you stopping in to view my hub!

Fotinoula Gypsyy from NYC BABY on March 31, 2012:

Very informative and nicely written hub, voted up and interesting=)

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on February 15, 2012:

I am proud of you for standing up and coming out about mental illness. It is the only way to show people we are more than just a sterotype. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

dkm27 from Chicago on February 14, 2012:

So glad you published this hub. The stigma still exists, but with hubs like this, the stigma will begin to fade just a bit. I had it,I inherited it, I hid it, and I conquered it. Took a lot of work, but what a great life it is now. Thank you for your caring.

Joanne1225 from Central Pennsylvania on December 31, 2011:

I really like your style and voted you up and gave you an "awesome." You write in a conversational, straightforward, informational style and I "get it!" It's easy to digest. Thank you for helping to teach the world more about mental illness. It's so important that they know how to handle those of us who are. God Bless you!

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on October 17, 2011:

Hi smcopywrite, your welcome. I am glad you liked the hub.

smcopywrite from all over the web on October 15, 2011:

wonderful information. thank you for sharing with us.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on September 17, 2011:

any mouse, I won't disagree, but no matter how mental illnes is caused, it IS real and should be treated that way.

any mouse on September 16, 2011:

some mental illness is cause by bad parenting. child abuse can cause mental illness. it caused my ptsd.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on January 13, 2011:

Hi georgiecarlos-Thank you for your kind comment. I have over the last few years found that having bipolar does not have to be a hopeless fate. I have learned to use it to my advantage. Your friend is lucky to have such a supportive friend.

georgiecarlos from Philippines on January 13, 2011:

Thank you for sharing such an insightful and inspiring hub! This is especially personal to me since I know of someone with a mental illness. What I like about your hub is that not only is it informative, it has this message of hope. Thanks!

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on January 03, 2011:

You are so welcome lorlie, I had a love-hate relationship with lithium. Topamax and Seroquel saved my life, and I slowly found my way back to writing. I have slow days but better than when I took lithium which left me stable, but brain dead. I am happy to hear Lamictal is doing it for you. Stay well :)

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on January 01, 2011:

Wonderful job, crazybeanrider. During my last bout with mania, my psychiatrist wanted me to take Lithium. I was terribly against it because I did not want to lose the racing thoughts that I felt contributed to my writing creativity.

I stayed med-free for a couple of months until my behavior became quite bizarre. I decided that I would try a 'new' medication, Lamictal, and I am grateful for it.

And, I still write!!

Thanks for this article.

New Life from Chandler, Arizona on September 19, 2010:

Wanted you to know that I found this hub very informative... thanks for sharing this information

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on July 15, 2010:

Seakay you are so right. If you are depressed and have little support it makes the depression that much worse. I was with someone who continually told me I was only feigning depression to get attention. What a sad way to get attention. Thank you for sharing Seakay.

Seakay from Florida on July 14, 2010:

Terrific Hub, crazybeanrider. I have had some issues with depression and took time off from work. It's difficult for people to understand that depression is an illness and is very real. It's not just that you have bouts of being sad. You cannot fully understand the extent of devastation until you experience it.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on July 06, 2010:

Hi rasenstars1, Thank you for reading and commenting. It is amazing you go through your illness so quietly. That has never been my case. I have to say I am proud of the accomplishments you have made going through the storm. because yes everyday is a fight, and you are proving that bipolar can be managed. That we can function, accomplish things in spite of the many set backs thrown our way. Keep up your good fight. And thumbs up for your friends as well. Thank you for sharing here, it means a lot.


rasenstars1 on July 05, 2010:

What is sad is the stigma that certain mental illnesses receive from Doctors. I have ran into it because I am not normally physically acting out so I could not be bipolar. Meanwhile, I am quietly having aroma hullcinations, and very quietly being paranoid. I was cycling weekly, and out of control, and patiently waiting for the therapy, and medication to fix it. Then I tried to commit suicide quietly. Every thing had to be quiet to protect my family. I was finally diagnosed. But something was still not right. Recently I was also diagnosed with AADD, and the change is remarkable. I am on the honor roll at Strayer University, and my friends there are very supportive. Every day is a fight. But I survive bipolar, and function in the world. It is possible to win.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on November 13, 2009:

I am glad you are able to find insight in my hub.Your thoughts are so much appreciated. The fact you are willing to seek understanding and clarity about something you have not experienced is wonderful. Thank you so much.

reeltaulk on November 12, 2009:

You have explained so much in a nutshell. Thankyou for the insight, I am beginning to understand so much. More people need to read your hub because not only is it enlightening but for those like myself who do not know or understand can begin to in a positive way, best wishes....ciao

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on October 16, 2009:

Thank you very much. Your hub is very inspiring. I hope it helps others. I have a designed a treatment plan using vitamins, but have not actually tried it yet. I did a lot of research on it. Right now is the cost holding me back. This website http://www.orthomolecular.org/ is full of good information. Check it out if you haven't already.

Willow Mattox from Northern California on October 15, 2009:

Excellent hub. Keep writing. Check out my hub https://wehavekids.com/parenting/ODD-ADHD-Bipolar-... This is about my son and our vitamin "cure". I wonder if you have any experience with using vitamins along with your meds? It saved our life.

Boo McCourt (author) from Washington MI on October 12, 2009:

You are so right. Everybody has a different view of what productive is. Especially people who don't understand mental illness, they assume we have to work, act a certain way to be productive. I was never one for affirmations, and connecting with my inner child is just plain wacky.

I am so glad you stopped by. :)

PJ_Deneen on October 12, 2009:

Thank you for sharing your insights. It seems with the likes of Oprah and Dr. Phil there is an uphill battle in trying to convince people of the biological reality of mental illness. Not everything is cured by "contacting your inner child" or affirmations.

It's very true that we can lead productive lives, though it might be on different terms than what society thinks is normal.

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