What is Mental Illness?


It’s going to be a Terrific day!

As the month of May and Mental Health Month comes to an end I’m dedicating this post to defining (from my personal experience) what mental illness is and some things to be aware of.

The million dollar question that we have all heard or even asked is……….You guessed it!!


The American Psychiatric Association defines mental illness as a condition that involves changes in thinking, emotion or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental Illness is associated with distress and or difficulty functioning in social, work, or family activities.

When does it get really real?

A mental health concern  becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect an individuals ability to function.

What dose this mean?

Mental Illness is a medical condition just like heart disease or diabetes and it is treatable. The majority of individuals diagnosed with a mental illness continue to function in their daily lives.

Types of mental illness include and are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictive behaviors

For me this means, I have depression but I am not depression. Let me repeat, I HAVE depression but I AM NOT Depression. Depression is not my name nor should it be used to describe me, my character or my being. Depression is a medical condition that can be treated by medical doctors.

Sometimes, most times when mental illness is discussed among friends, co-worker, social media, news stories, in pulpits, or at home it’s discussed as if it’s some dirty taboo, incurable disease that you get by hanging around “the crazies”. I hope you can hear my eyes roll!!! This is all FALSE and contributes to further stigmatizing those diagnosed with a mental illness.

When I’m depressed, it’s hard to talk, to work, to clean, to get out of the bed, it’s hard to even exist. Talking to friends is even harder, even when I know they are concerned about me and they really do care about me. It’s hard. Depression tells me that no one wants to be bothered with me anyway so why bother talking. Anxiety says, what If I tell them I’m depressed and they judge me, or tell me to get over it and cheer up or will they even want to talk to me or be my friend because I’ve been isolating and too depressed to do anything.

So I stay silent and depressed because I don’t want to hear all those things I’ve heard people say about mental illness. Like:

Just pray about it and you will be fine, trust God he will make you happy, just stop being sad, read your bible, you can’t be depressed and believe in God, it will be ok.

When people ask “How are you?” my auto response is I’m good when I’m sometimes I’m really not. It’s just that I don’t feel like people would be able to handle it if I said:

My life sucks, I haven’t showered in 3 days, I can’t sit still, I wish I could disappear for a while, I need a break, I can’t do this anymore, I’m tired, I haven’t washed the dishes in 2 weeks, or done laundry in a month, I can’t stop crying, I’m hurting and I don’t know why, and I need help.

Friends, if someone you know tells you they are depressed, don’t ask who, what, how, when, where or why. Don’t tell them what they NEED to do or what they SHOULD not do. PLEASE don’t automatically assume that they are suicidal. They may not be offended if you just ask them because they more than likely are hoping you ask them. Do ask them how you can help, support or be there for them. Just be there when they reach out to you and let them know that they matter to you.

Support the #1in5 and support me!

Peace, love, and blessings



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