Unsigned: Understanding less common mental illnesses

There’s more to mental illness than the big guys: anxiety and depression.

It seems to make a lot of sense. These are the mental illnesses that we see in the media and the more common illnesses in our university setting.

Maybe that’s why real representations of other illnesses are so startling.

Looking at OCD, the HBO show Girls jumped into properly representing the illness.

Rather than showing it as some cute cleaning obsession, the character blew out her ear drum because her compulsion was to clean her ear so many times.

PTSD is another example of a misunderstood mental illness. After a particularly graphic Game of Thrones episode like “The Red Wedding,” the internet was full of people joking that they had PTSD.

We understand anxiety and depression.

We’re less likely to talk about them colloquially because they’re more common; they make more sense to us.

Being able to empathize with someone suffering from an illness can help to break the stigma, but it doesn’t always manifest in understandable ways.

People often don’t have the stereotype of their illness. You don’t have to be a soldier to have PTSD, nor do you have to excessively clean to have OCD.

Everyone’s experiences are equally real and valid.

No one would tell someone with diabetes to will their body into making more insulin. No one would tell a cancer patient to exercise away their tumour.

Hidden illnesses are still illnesses, even if you don’t fully understand them or have not experienced them.

The more overwhelmed people get and the more they show outward symptoms, the more seriously they seem to be taken.

If you don’t understand something, ask questions.

Never make assumptions — be cognizant of the fact that mental illness does not come in one shape or form.

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