No ‘one size fits all’

Written by Aisha Abdool Karim in Senior Editorial

Having a mental illness is difficult. Being ashamed or embarrassed because of your mental illness makes it even more difficult. The stigma attached to mental illnesses creates a barrier for people that are already dealing with complex issues, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, etc.

People are often reluctant to share the fact that they have a mental illness, out of fear that it will not be taken seriously or will simply be brushed off as being dramatic. The stigma surrounding mental health issues creates a barrier and can further isolate people with mental illnesses.

The decision to share your experience and open up to others about your mental illness is a personal one and completely up to the individual. It’s not up to you to force someone to share more than they want to and you are not obligated to tell anyone more than you are comfortable with.

However, dealing with your mental illness is a lot easier if you have a support system. That support system can be one person or it can be 20 but having someone there can make it a lot easier to address your issues.

As someone with a mental illness, I have often found it hard to open up and tell people personal things about myself. Knowing that somebody could make a joke about it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s a huge step to share something so personal and it is very stressful not knowing how someone will react.

The aim of this issue is to highlight how serious mental illnesses are and I hope that reading these articles will help you to gain a better understanding of what some students are going through. We’re not here to provide you with a how-to guide and each person is different.  There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution when dealing with your own mental illness or figuring out how to treat someone with a mental illness.

The only advice I could possibly give anyone is to be compassionate. Don’t try to tell someone how they’re feeling or how they should handle their feelings. Even if you are going through something similar, it’s not up to you how someone else should act. If a friend opens up to you, it probably wasn’t an easy thing to do. Be there for them, offer them your support in any way you can.

There aren’t a lot of downsides to someone caring too much about you, so if a friend is offering you their support then take it. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking someone can ‘fix’ you or that you can ‘fix’ someone else. Having a mental illness isn’t something to fix, it doesn’t mean that you’re broken.

Mental illnesses are serious, but they’re just like other illnesses. You can seek treatment and get better. Your problems probably won’t vanish overnight and there’s no quick and easy solution, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to work through your issues. I won’t say something as clichéd as ‘it gets better’, but your situation isn’t hopeless and it is possible to recover or live comfortably with them. 

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