But You’re To Functional To Have A Mental Illness.

This is something I’v been seeing more of within the Social Service Agencies that are in charge of determining elgiability for various programs from Medicaid to Snap benefits to Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI), It is so hard to prove that your Mental Illness(es) are significant enough to cause you issues in daily living and working.

Earlier I read an article on “The Mighty” about a Mental Health Worker who went to a workshop, questions were asked and answered, however unhappy with the answers she spoke up and challenged the answers, Im enclosing the article here and my thoughts on the subject, My replies will be in Italics.

When You’re ‘Too Functional’ to Have Your Mental Illness Taken Seriously

By Karen Lowinger. Contributor.

I’ve read countless articles, many on The Mighty, about the struggle of having an invisible illness and the way other people judge the “validity” of people’s conditions. I’ve also read about people who aren’t taken seriously when they express their most intimate, dark thoughts to family, professionals and friends.

I’m a psychologist. Not too long ago I was reunited with many other mental healthworkers (psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers and professors were in attendance.) The event was a presentation of a type of therapy and when the speaker began talking, he asked us how mental illness affects a person. Someone answered a person with a mental illness has difficulties and struggles with certain areas of his life. Another person answered that

And then a third person said mentally ill people don’t function in society. I was waiting for someone to refute this, but instead everyone nodded and the speaker actually agreed and said “very good.”

My heart was beating really fast. It was partly because I didn’t know these people very well and I was struggling a bit with social anxiety. I hadn’t contemplated speaking up. But my heart was also beating fast because I was angry. That statement and the fact it wasn’t even questioned is exactly the reason why “high-functioning” people with mental illnesses are sometimes not taken seriously.

I can be dying inside while going through the motions of the day. It’s not difficult for me to know how others expect me to act. Acting fine is a cognitive process. You can probably mention right now how an emotionally stable or “mentally sane” person is supposed to act. It really is simple. A generally accepted lifestyle is one where a person wakes up every day, looks presentable, takes care of stuff that needs to be taken care of, eats and goes to sleep. This can sometimes be done regardless of how you feel inside. To say it’s difficult is an understatement, but it’s not impossible.

These “high-functioning” people don’t do it because they want to fool others, they do it because they want to produce and be a part of society. They try so hard to beat their illnesses or disorders. They don’t want to rely on others to take care of them.

So when a “high-functioning” person asks for help or admits to himself and to someone else his struggles, it takes a lot of bravery. These people have worked every single day to build a “normal” world for themselves are terrified of admitting mental illness, and when they finally do and are met with rejection, little understanding and no empathy from a mental health worker, it is devastating.

My compromise with my career is very clear to me, but I have to admit I have been blessed (and cursed) to see this because I, myself, struggle with my own disorders.
If you struggle with not being taken seriously, my advice to you is to trust you know yourself so much more than anybody else. Nobody has the right to undermine your difficulties. If they do, it’s their issue. Keep looking for the person who listens to you and takes your feelings into account. Don’t feel demoralized or flawed. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow when you ask for help from a mental health worker who should be able to understand you but doesn’t. Again, this is a flaw in their own understanding of the human mind.

By the way, yes I did speak up. With a bit of a red face I refuted what they all agreed to and told them it’s a terrible mistake to discard the presence of a mental disorder in relation to the functionality of a person. I added functionality is sometimes a symptom, depending on the illness and the person.

The speaker didn’t know what to answer, so he agreed and moved on.

a person with a mental illness has difficulties and struggles with certain areas of his life. true, People with mental illness do have difficulties and struggles in  certain areas of their lives, and it is not as easy as you think to get appropriate help, especially if you are a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor,  you see, TBI Survivors are better helped by seeing therapists that have experience in dealing with the specific challenges that TBI Survivors  face, and finding a therapist that works specifically with TBI survivors is challenging.

the mentally ill suffer greatly, those with Mental illnesses can suffer greatly from the lack of help, the lack of a support system and the lack of compassion from society at large, The whole “But You Dont Look Sick ” mentality is at work here, just because the person doesn’t appear to have a disability then they must not have one and they are just faking, trying to scam the system, this is especially true if you are trying for Disability payments from Social Security Administration, those with invisable illnesses have a harder time getting approved, irregardless of how well written the letters are that the drs write, no matter how many hoops we jump through, it is so time consuming and exhausting, but in the long run it is so worth it when you eventually get awarded your claim.

mentally ill people don’t function in society.   

True to a point, Some people with Mental Illness have a hard time functioning in society, many have no help, no support system, and because of that many are homeless due to being unable to function and have a job, and some are even in Jail or Prison for crimes committed  that are a result of their mental illness,

With the proper help, and support system, those with mental illnesses can and do function in society , most have jobs and careers, familys and are contributing members of society, and yet some can’t/don’t no matter how bad they want to, no matter how much help they get, support systems they have, their illness/injury is just severe enough that even though they look fine on the outside, they can’t work.

So before you pass judgement on someone who doesn’t appear to be disabled,  perhaps they really are, and they deserve the same dignity and respect as everyone else.

If you made it this far, Thank You,  I know I normally don’t post up a blog post other than on Saturdays, but I felt this was important.

Have a fantastic Evening, and a Great rest of the week!

The Mighty


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