Today I am writing from the Omni Resource Center, where I often attend group, socialize and/or volunteer at the front desk. This is a support center that is primarily operated by and for people within the mental health network within our county. It is attached to Interim Incorporated. This is an organization which overall is a nonprofit helping consumers/clients/whatever you want to call us to overcome barriers to recovery such as availability of housing (although I personally live independently now, that was not always the case), case management, employment as well as educational support services, social events, awareness and other forms of advocacy. In my area, it is the only comprehensive resource like this. There are other programs that might be specifically for drugs and/or alcohol or homelessness issues, but this is the only one with the depth of services offered and the level of support.
The programs work in conjunction with the county mental health office. They also fight stigma that is very prevalent although this particular issue is an everpresent evil in the lives of basically every person living with a disability (not only mental illness). For more information on stigma, see an old entry I did. I’m sure you can find it by the tags/categories.
As I’ve worked through my own recurring seeming nightmare of mental health, it has come to my attention through exposure to others in the “system” that mental illness is more common than one may at first suspect. I should probably look up percentages to quote (not wanting to engage in copyright infringement, given the state of a certain legistlation that’s coming up, just a side note). Mental illness may seem hard to understand if you are on the outskirts looking into it, perhaps if you know someone in your family or a friend you care about very much seems to be showing signs of issues you do not understand.
Probably one of the worst feelings in my experience has been the experience of labeling. I would receive it from other people, and I would also place stigma upon myself in an effort to understand my symptoms and experiences. It was sometimes a safer feeling to dismiss an emotion as simply a mood change and pretend like I didn’t have to do anything about it. Even if it is a feeling that can be categorized in a clinical way, it is still a feeling and needs validation as well as attention to the needs surrounding it. Sometimes it can feel even worse, in my own experience, when someone slaps a term such as “manic”, “depressed” or “psychotic” onto an internal state claiming that (a) this is evidence that I have not been taking care of myself, (b) I should just let go of my feelings and it will all go away or (c) it is not an experience or emotion or part of me that happens for any justifiable, logical reason so it does not need attention or understanding. These reactions are hurtful, and in my experience, they make the process of recovery so much harder.
It is very tempting to place a person into a supposed “box”. It is easy to suppose that someone can be written off and their internal world ignored simply because it is the product of an emotional pathology. When this happens, again, in my own experience, it just means the people surrounding me may not understand the situation from my perspective.
For me, and I always speak from a personal perspective because each person’s feeling is unique to them, I appreciate to be listened to and understood. If I am not feeling well, I am still a person, and I may just need a time out, some sleep, some extra TLC. It’s not a complicated affair for me to get well. Believe me, I would always much rather walk in wellness.