The difference between mental illness and psychiatric disability is a thin one. We think it’s safe to say that any form of mental illness is a hindrance in some fashion. We certainly don’t believe that a disability is simply a hindrance; we would never want to minimize or devalue what someone with a disability has to contend with. But for anyone who suffers from a mental illness, we also need to recognize and accept that they have a certain amount of things that keep them back, to some degree. But there is a difference between the two, and it is a distinction that can be important to know. You may be asked in at some point in your life, such as when applying for a job, that you will be asked if you have some kind of disability. You may find yourself wondering if your illness or diagnosis counts as a disability. 

Psychiatric disability is when mental illness or a condition reaches a point that it interferes with major, everyday activities such as learning, working, or communicating. It’s dependent on the degree that your illness is interfering with your everyday life. Obviously, this is what the possible job is looking to see: are you capable of accomplishing the tasks needed of you and what kind of help would you need in order to be successful? So you have to look at yourself and consider to what level is your illness affecting you. 

It kind of starts a weird domino effect, almost like how your thoughts can spiral out of control when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack or something like it. You start to look at those moments when you’re feeling anxious, depressed or anything like that. You start to second guess whether or not, in those moments, you are able to still function as you are needed to. We know the saying is “hindsight is 20/20”, but it isn’t always like that. It is completely possible to change your perspective of how events happened. It’s important to try to lessen that effect and really decide if you can say that your illness is a disability. Just remember those things that, when significantly altered, can cause a disability. It can come down to your ability to work, learn, communicate, and more.

There are other things to keep in mind that can affect these things too, such as medication. Despite being designed to help improve your symptoms and ability to cope with mental illness, medications can cause certain side effects in your body that affect your ability to function in your everyday life and activities. Side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, and shakiness. These are just a list of a few things to consider. Again, it all comes down to how these things affect your ability to function. Is it enough to warrant a disability? It depends on what we’ve said before.

Looking at What Makes an Illness a Disability and What That Means For You

Naturally, there’s a certain amount of stigma that comes with the term “disability.” If you find that you do have a disability, you may think of yourself as lesser than those around you. You feel like you are then going to become dependent on others to live your life like you are going to be a burden to your loved ones and the people around you. It’s something that we don’t want anyone to feel. Just because you may have a disability does not mean that you are lesser than anybody else. Does it mean you can’t accomplish certain tasks that others can? Maybe, but at the same time, there are plenty of things that someone without a disability can’t do those other individuals can. Your abilities to do something do not define you as a person. They do not change the fact that you are still an independent person who has value. You are more than your disability and are not any less than the rest of us. 

Finding out if your illness constitutes a disability is a tricky situation. Even at its most basic level, mental illness is something that can affect and alter your daily life. But some illnesses and their level of affectation can really alter a person’s abilities to accomplish their necessary tasks. It can throw everything off and become something that needs to be kept in mind. Just don’t let that change the way you view, or value, yourself. It’s important to not let it bring you down and into a slump. Accept yourself for your disability and realize that it doesn’t make you any less than what you are: a valuable human being. We can all reach a point where we work together to where a disability is anything but. We can conquer anything, and your disability is no different. You are worthy of believing that. 

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with addiction 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]