Sandee Sez: Don't be ashamed of mental illness
- Sandra Ahenakew | February 26, 2015
Here’s a controversial opening…raise your hand if you’re mentally ill. Many people will not raise their hands because of they feel ashamed and don’t want to be labeled as “crazy”. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and when properly diagnosed and treated people can live happy productive lives. According to Health Canada, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. The Canadian Medical Association, meanwhile, reports that only about half of Canadians would tell a friend or co-worker if they had a family member who is struggling with a mental health issue.
Mental illness is a term dripping with stereotypes; people confuse it with being insane. The reality is that you can be quite sane while suffering from mental health issues. If mental illness means being crazy, here’s a scary thought; in any given year, nearly 25% of all Canadians report symptoms of mental illness. Shockingly just two out of five people will seek treatment. The rest will suffer in silence or in extreme cases some will tragically take their own lives.
Sadness is a natural mood if a loved one passes away you mourn; when you lose a job you liked it takes time to grieve the loss. During these periods of appropriate sadness, you may feel depressed, lack energy and find yourself crying a lot. Then after a fairly short time your mood starts returning to normal.
Clinical depression is different. It is a medically diagnosed Mood Disorder. It can happen even when your job is going great and you’re happy in your life. You can’t talk yourself out of Clinical Depression. Chemical changes in your brain are taking place; sadness and feelings of worthlessness can last for months even years for no reason. This is when you should seek professional help because talking to a trained professional can help you restore your mental health.
There are many signs and symptoms of mental illness, and depend on the particular disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Examples of signs and symptoms include; feeling sad, confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate, excessive fears or worries, extreme feelings of guilt, withdrawal from friends and family, significant tiredness, low energy, trouble sleeping, alcohol or drug abuse, major changes in eating habits, excessive anger and suicidal thinking. See your medical professional if you are experiencing these signs and symptoms there are medications that can help. You are not alone.
As we age many things in our bodies change. You have have a family member who is suffering from Dementia which is a general term for the decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease it is an overall term used to describe a wide range of symptoms; it is often incorrectly referred to as “senility” which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging. People with Dementia may have problems with short term memory, keeping track of a purse or a wallet, paying bills, preparing meals, remembering appointments or finding their way in and out of their neighborhoods.
Dementia is progressive with symptoms starting out slowly and gradually getting worse. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don’t ignore them. See a doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause. Professional evaluation may detect a treatable condition.
It is my hope that all of you reading will choose to take care of your health and make good choices. I enjoy hearing from you. Contact me at Sandee Sez c/o Eagle Feather News, P.O. Box 924 Station Main, Saskatoon, SK S7K 3M4 or email.
Related story: First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework launched
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