"Mental illness and suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, of any age, of any background, at any time. Like with physical illnesses, people don’t choose to have a mental health problem. And they need the appropriate care to get better.
Mental illness and suicidal thoughts are common issues for young people. In 2014-15, nearly a third of concerns expressed to ChildLine related to mental health.
It can be difficult to know if a child is suffering as they often keep it to themselves. But we’re here to help you spot the signs and know how to support them."
"It has been well-documented (link is external) that autobiographical memories associated with smell are frequently more intense and emotionally tinged than memories associated with other sensory cues. This is due to the uniquely direct access smells have to the olfactory cortex, and the proximity of this area of the brain to the limbic system and the amygdala. Several recent studies, however, reveal another singular characteristic of olfactory-cued memories: In addition to arriving at the brain through different channels than other sensory information, olfactory cues tend to trigger memories from a different part of our past than those our other senses."
Unfortunately, for survivors, these experiences can be powerful and disturbing. Smells that trigger abuse memories can come at very arbitrary times and can leave us utterly unable to function for a short time. I've been somewhat lucky in this regard, I don't have any every day smells that serve as reminders to my abuse, but I know some others have had to deal with that struggle.
Are there smells that remind you of your abuse? How have you dealt with them?
This is pretty good advice. Someone dealing with a mental health issue is unlikely to suddenly seek out someone to help them. They may, however, ask someone who is there, sticking by them the whole time.
"Histories of child abuse are common among military members and may be important to consider when treating their mental health needs, according to a report from Canada.
People who join the military are more likely to report being abused as children, and that trauma may be more closely linked to suicide risk than trauma experienced during deployment, researchers suggest.
"It's not that deployment-related trauma is not significant, but the relationship is less than childhood-related trauma," said lead author Tracie Afifi, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg."
This study was related to the military in Canada, and found that the risk of suicide was significantly higher in members of the military who had a history of child abuse, regardless of what type of trauma they may have experienced while in the military.
What this tells us, is that adults dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts may also be survivors of abuse. That means that telling an adult to look around at their current life, and ask what they have to be depressed about, is missing the point in a million different ways. Current mental health issues are very likely not tied to current events, but to childhood ones.
If you're struggling with depression now, and were abused as a child, get help for both of those things.
"According to a study from Ohio State University, something as subtle as phrasing can have an effect on someone's tolerance. Using a questionnaire designed to measure attitudes toward people with mental illness, participants were given one of two versions of the survey: In one version, all references were to "the mentally ill," and in the other, all references were to "people with mental illness." Unsurprisingly, researchers found that across all demographics, people who received the "mentally ill" survey showed less tolerance than those who read about "people with mental illness.""
I haven't given that a lot of thought, but I do know I try to not refer to specific people as being "mentally ill" as much as I try and describe them as struggle with mental health issues or depression, etc. It just sounds nicer to me, and apparently can have an effect on how those people are perceived by readers. So, I will try and be even more aware of it going forward!
"Sometimes the first step is the hardest. A step towards acceptance. A step towards treatment. A step towards recovery. When you live with a mental illness, often times that step involves therapy.
But therapy can be a scary concept, especially if the same voice in your head that’s fueling your mental illness is saying you don’t deserve it. There’s always someone worse. It would be a waste of time. Therapy makes you weak.
But who cares if there’s “always someone worse”? Therapy is not a waste of time, and it certainly doesn’t make you weak. If you think you might need therapy but are hesitant to take the first step, here are some messages from our readers that might change your mind."
It's sad to think that folks dealing with mental health issues don't think they deserve to get help, but it's just another example of how issues like depression lie, and cause us to not see ourselves clearly.
Everyone deserves to get help of some sort. If therapy is available for you, don't talk yourself out of it.
"I completely get it. It’s easy to say you accept mental health issues until you actually see it. Sometimes, it’s messy. Sometimes, it involves F-bombs. It’s easy to look at her and just think she’s “one of those bad kids.”
But she only swears when she’s really feeling bad and is starting to lose control. I wanted to walk over to those parents and explain: “She has bipolar disorder. She gets to a point where she’s no longer in control of her words or her body. She was overstimulated and overwhelmed and feeling horrible inside. She’s not stable yet. It will get better soon. She’s not really like that, she’s lovely!” But would that make a difference?
It’s easy to share memes on Facebook say you support mental illnesses, but until you’re there, in the thick of it, you can’t understand what it’s like. Would you accept it if a mental illness incident happened in front of you? Would you feel compassionate, or would you judge? Does my daughter need to have a giant sticker on her forehead saying “Mental illness on board, please be kind”? Why can’t people just be kind anyways?"
I found this article interesting on it's face. It is easy to say we support people struggling with depression or child abuse survivors, but when someone is in the worst of it, and it's not cute and sympathetic looking, can we really say that we're supportive?
On another level, I also found this interesting when thinking about boys who are abused or dealing with mental health issues. Boys don't tend to just "look sad" when they have depression, or when they are dealing with trauma. They might just act out, and it might even be somewhat violent or anti-social. It happens, because pain can take that form sometimes, and can be expressed that way.
It might not be easy to understand that kind of expression of pain, but it might even be more important that we do, before those struggling people damage themselves, or others.
They need support, and healing too.
""There was this predominant narrative out there that this is an issue solely affecting girls," project manager Meredith Dank recalled. "Then we found all these boys, and we complicated the narrative a little bit.""
It's interesting that the existence of male victims of sex trafficking somehow complicated the narrative. I've never understood how when it comes to trafficking children, the sex of the victim somehow matters in how people view it. Victims are victims, but somehow girls are seen as victims, and boys we get these concerns about how they might be criminals or drug addicts. I can't help but wonder if the locals would have the same concerns if it were a house for female victims of sex trafficking?
If it's a case of viewing male victims as a problem, but not female, then it only shows how much we, as a society, are lacking in understanding and compassion. Males do get sexually assaulted, boys are trafficked and sexually abused, and survivors deserve the same support that females do.
"If you don’t know what it’s like to have a mental illness, but have a loved one who does, sometimes it can be hard to know what to say. Even with the best intentions, you might find yourself avoiding the subject all together or giving unsolicited advice that doesn’t end up being that helpful.
Knowing what to ask in these moments — moments you want to show a loved one you care but don’t know how — can be key.
So, we asked our Mighty readers who live with mental illnesses what questions they wished others would ask them.
Here’s what they had to say. Hopefully some of these can help you start an important conversation with someone with a mental illness:"
Go. Read. Learn. Act
"n recent years, awareness of mental health in the workplace has ramped up – and rightly so. An employee's job can often be a source of mental illness or, if not the source, then an aggravator of it. So it's great that initiatives such as RUOK Day are becoming widespread. This, however, has given rise to the type of employee willing to take advantage of the heightened sensitivity: the employee who fakes a disorder for their personal benefit.
There a number of ways this becomes manifest. There's the employee who goes on stress leave the moment he's placed on a performance management plan. There's the employee who makes allegations of bullying or harassment just because a manager provided some harsh feedback. There's the employee who, on account of her questionable anxiety, demands she be given more breaks and a lighter workload.
Every inauthentic assertion detracts from the individuals who genuinely endure those mental illnesses but are unfairly confronted by misplaced cynicism. "
That last quote is important, and it's something those of us who are trying to fight for mental health awareness have to be very thoughtful of. Much like false rape, or false child abuse allegations, false mental health claims that are discovered create a cynicism about real victims. Anyone who advocates for mental health, abuse, or rape survivors cannot tolerate anyone who is making false claims, because they do nothing but damage the credibility of the whole movement.
And, frankly, supporters who do not seem to mind the occasional false accusation, are no supporter at all.
"According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in America in 2014. This means someone in the U.S. died by suicide every 12.3 minutes that year. But with early intervention, support and treatment, suicide is preventable. If we help those at risk — and make help more accessible for those who need it — we can live in a world where these numbers shrink.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. To learn more about the warning signs of suicide, head here.
For now, hear these messages from members of our Mighty community who’ve been there. We hope their words give you the push to get the help you need and deserve.
Here’s what they want to tell anyone who’s in a dark place:"
"Hypersexuality is a common side effect of sexual trauma (as is avoiding sex altogether). I didn't know this at the time I wrote that piece. During that period of my life, I wasn't just, "taking a guy home from the party because I wanted to." I was actively going on Tinder and looking for guys to meet at bars and then bring home with me, because I felt like I needed to.
My logic was: If I can sleep with random people, that means I'm fine. That means my trauma doesn't affect me.
Oh, the irony.
I didn't realize that this was a completely normal reaction to sexual trauma until I talked about it in therapy, and my counselor assured me that it was a common response."
This is true of adults who were sexually abused as children as well. Yes, many survivors grow up completely uninterested in sex, but for others the opposite is true. There can be many reasons for it, but it's most important to understand that you are not alone, and that all survivors react differently to trauma. Just because one survivor displays the opposite reaction doesn't mean your trauma was any less damaging.
Most importantly, healing is possible regardless!
"You may have just been told by your partner that he or she was sexually abused in childhood. You may have been suspecting this for a while. The world, as you know it, is reeling, and worse, you may know, and even like, the perpetrator, if it was a family member.
Remember that you must see your partner's disclosure in a positive light: she (for ease of reading, the feminine pronoun will be used from now on although this article applies as much to men as to women) is entrusting you with a very private part of her life. It may make her feel vulnerable, insecure and/or frightened. What should you do to honour that trust and help in the healing journey?"
I have seen this from all sides. Obviously, I've been the survivor, I've also been in dating relationships with other survivors in the past. I've watched good friends deal with someone they love disclosing their past abuse, and watched survivor friends go through the process of sharing their story with their partner. There's nothing easy about it. Whether sharing it with a partner, or hearing it from your partner, it's changes things between you, and if not handled well, it can end a relationship.
No one expects you to handle it perfectly, but if someone you care about has shared this with you, these are good things to keep in mind.
"A mental health condition has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. It doesn’t mean you overreact to things, that you’re “just” feeling down, that you’re incompetent, that you’re weak, or that you’re “crazy.” Just as people who struggle with a physical health issue need and deserve support, people with a mental health issue need and deserve the same."
This article not only talks about the importance of having a support network, but also has some practical things you can do to create one.
Perhaps just as importantly, it also has a realistic approach, recognizing that some people are going to be more supportive than others. That's true, but don't let it stop you. Lots of people are uncomfortable with mental health issues. Unfortunately, that is likely because too many people around them have been afraid to talk about it so they have no experience with it.
The more we all can talk, the better we'll all be.
"When researchers asked what did provide comfort to someone who was estranged from a close family member, people said “having someone listen” to them, “being seen as normal,” having someone telling them that they were “an okay person,” and hearing that others had similar experiences all eased the pains. But the strong underlying message is that the complexity of parents and their adult children deserves greater prominence."
This article isn't specifically about child abuse, but I know a lot of survivors are facing this reality. They are estranged from their family, and that is difficult, even when it's clearly the right thing to do. It can be the healthiest thing for you, but doesn't mean you don't get to mourn what you don't have within your family. Not having a family to spend the holidays with, or share childhood memories with, sucks. Nothing can replace that, but we can certainly find our own group of supporters who can become our "family".
"So, this year, if you make one resolution, stop looking into that lying mirror. Instead, start looking into the eyes of the people who love you. When you’re reeling, when you want to give into the dark, talk to your people about your mental health struggles. Ask them if your deepest fears are grounded in truth. Ask them what they see when they look at you. Ask them to help you fight back this darkness.
Your family has a stake in you loving yourself. Their love is real; that lying mirror is not. Deep, true, rooted love is the only way back from your nightmares. True self-love is the only way back to sanity."
However you define your "family", and I know that many survivors the people who love them and their natural family are different groups, be sure to talk to them about your struggles. I know from my own experience with depression how much it lies and warps your perception of yourself. It's important to get out of your own head when your head is lying to you!
""For a sexual abuse victim, getting family support is a must. It leaves the child mentally traumatised and can also cause severe depression for a lifetime. In the survey, we found that 20 per cent respondents reported abuse to parents but only about half of the parents enquired further into the matter," said Dr Mundada. He said all respondents who were victims confessed that the abuser was known to them beforehand."
This was a small survey done in India, and I'm not sure that we can extrapolate those percentages exactly, but it's still startling. However, that's not the part that I found most troublesome. The last line of that quote is the most troublesome.
He said all respondents who were victims confessed that the abuser was known to them beforehand.
For all of you who think registries, stranger danger education, and keeping kids way from "creeps" will be enough to actually protect them, think again. Kids are abused the vast majority of the time by people they know, and who are either part of the family, or closely connected to the family. Given that, how do you protect them?
1. Teach children about bad touch, and make sure they know to tell you about anyone, ANYONE, who tries to hurt them, or wants them to keep secrets.
2. Make sure your relationship with you child is such that they don't want to keep secrets from you. Open, honest communication is vital.
3. Make sure your kids know they are loved, supported, and believed. Strong kids, with strong parental bonds, and a strong self of themselves make poor targets.
What else would you add?
"Hawking gave a poignant message to people suffering from depression, making a poetic comparison between depression and a black hole – no matter how dark they seem, neither are impossible to escape.
Hawking said: “The message of this lecture is that black holes ain't as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.
“Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up – there's a way out.”"
I love this.
Click in to find related links.