Coming to Terms with Another Person’s Ideas

Perspectives can shape the definitions we have in our world. The things we have seen and felt can change how we define certain words, phrases, and so much more. Our world and our interactions within it are built upon our definitions. We choose our friends based on how our definitions may line up, we keep in touch with family if our definitions remain similar. So much of what drives us is fueled by the way we define certain things around us. This is normal and it’s healthy, but there are certain things that can cause unhealthy ways of thinking about it. We too often think that a definition that differs from this is wrong. We view people who think about things differently to be wrong and tend to hold that against them. This is true within how people may look at or define mental illness. If a person thinks about it differently than us, we automatically go on the defensive. But, this might not be the best way of handling these situations. 

We understand the frustration you feel when your views and opinions about mental illness are challenged. You are the one who suffers from it, you are the one who experiences it, so you should be the one who knows best about it. We have all felt that logic, and we have all felt the anger when someone tells us that that’s not true. A lot of us have been faced with those comments: “Your illness isn’t that bad”, “That’s not a mental illness” or the worst, “mental illness is a choice”. What does any of this mean? How can someone who has never had a mental illness tell us that our perceptions are wrong? Unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of people we meet who won’t take our struggles seriously. They have grown up and been taught to think a certain way, and our illness goes against that way of thinking, so they minimize it. It doesn’t excuse their ignorance at all, but it can help to understand where they are coming from. 

That understanding is always going to be important in this world. A person’s past can say a lot about why they are the way they are. For some people, they have witnessed an illness that is worse than what we deal with. Sometimes, a person telling you that your condition isn’t what you think it is doesn’t mean they don’t believe in mental illness. For a lot of people, they have come to face something severe. Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, and more, can have a huge impact on the people around the person who is suffering. For someone who is young and growing up around that sort of life, it can lead to a lot of trauma and pain. To them, labeling anything other than what they went through just isn’t enough to be labeled mental illness. It’s not because they want to tear you down; it’s because they have been hurt by it. We have said this before, but mental illness is not a one-way street. The people closest to you are also affected by what you go through. You may be the one carrying the brunt of it, but they are also struggling with it. This suffering is valid and should be considered, and it can help give us an idea of where a person can come from. 

What we want to tell you is that you can keep your own definition of mental illness. However these people may think, that does not change your own perspective and right to form your own definitions. And you don’t have to change theirs, either. If their perspective is different than yours, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a support system for you. It just may change the way in which you seek that support from them, which is okay. Don’t let it shape the way you think about yourself; don’t let someone else dictate how you view your own life. 

It is important to always remain true to how you view your struggles with mental illness, and it is important to remember that nothing else has to change that. You can let others have their own ideas and opinions about it, you can let them tell you why they think the way they do, and you can accept them for their differing thoughts. It can often be incredibly healthy to feel that way and let those differing views into your life. Love others who are different from you, love them for their differences, and find the ways those differences can help you grow. 

 If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]