Commentary: Mental illness is more than just a bad day

Not every negative feeling is indicative of a mental disorder

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Commentary: Mental illness is more than just a bad day

Gazette/GBT.org staff photo

Gazette/GBT.org staff photo

Gazette/GBT.org staff photo

Kate Fernandez, staff writer

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  As someone who has spent years dealing with mental illness – whether that has been on my part or someone else’s – I have recognized some of the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses.

  That isn’t to say that I’m all-knowing and can recognize mental illness in anyone – in fact, mental illness can differ from person to person. However, I feel that I have had enough experience on my own to have a general knowledge on the subject.

  In turn, I feel that I generally know the difference between real mental illness and a regular bad day.

 For whatever reason, when people claim that they have “really bad depression” or “really bad anxiety” after a bad day or two, it really irks me.

The problem for me is when someone equates a rough day that they had to depression or other mental illnesses people experience.”

— Kate Fernandez

  In fact, I can’t stand it.

  I have loved ones who are medically diagnosed with mental illnesses that can be crippling at times, and can even crush their spirit. I myself have fought  different internal battles for a considerable portion of my life, and I have sought professional help in order to help overcome these challenges.

   Personally, this internal turmoil has at times completely controlled my life, and it has prevented me from functioning in a typically normal way for me.

  So when people relate their temporary or minor issues to a comparatively larger mental illness, I feel that they are in turn invalidating the quite real problems that some struggle with.

  I don’t mean that others’ struggles are not valid. Everyone is allowed to feel how they do, and express the difficulties that they are having. That is not the problem for me.

  The problem for me is when someone equates a rough day that they had to depression or other mental illnesses people experience.

  Feeling nervous for next period’s quiz isn’t the same as suffering an anxiety attack that speeds your breathing so much that it feels like you are suffocating.

  Feeling distracted during an extra-long lecture isn’t the same as breaking down crying because you can’t seem to retain any information in class.

  Everyone has the right to their own emotions. It can be difficult for some, however, to understand the difference between everyday negative emotions and a real illness that wracks one’s brain.

  I think the reason this bothers me so much is that I have worked for years to come to terms with my issues, and I generally feel that I have a grasp on how to handle personal problems. In addition, I have become involved with several other people’s mental issues, so this is a sensitive topic for me.

Feeling distracted during an extra-long lecture isn’t the same as breaking down crying because you can’t seem to retain any information in class.”

— Kate Fernandez

  By claiming to have a serious mental illness after a couple of mood swings, you simultaneously reduce the magnitude of real problems that people face — problems that others are trying to come to terms with, and possibly overcome.

  The process of coming to terms with these types of problems is already incredibly frustrating, and by comparing those problems to everyday struggles, the process only becomes more frustrating.

  Everyone’s emotions are valid.

  But having a rough day because of a sleepless night and a long day at school is not the same as being depressed.

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