health

See the world through the eyes of people with mental illness.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a mental illness or struggle with addiction?

Maybe you have experience with a mental illness, and wonder what it’s like to sit in the professional’s chair, trying to help.

Enter Reddit.

Three days ago someone asked: “Psychiatrists/Psychologists of Reddit, what is the most profound or insightful thing you have ever heard from a patient with a mental illness?”

Cue the internet.

What came back were some wonderful insights into what people are struggling with, and what working in these mental health roles is like.

Reddit asked the professionals about mental illness.

“I worked with a child (11 years old) who had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and I was having a conversation about how it affects interpersonal communication,” wrote BigNasty417.

“I was fumbling through explaining non-verbal cues, misunderstandings, etc when he said to me, ‘It’s like trying to explain color to someone who’s colorblind’.”

Droppinkn0wledge said that early in their career they had worked with an 56-year-old alcoholic who said: “I feel like a ghost, walking around unseen in the backdrops of these other happy lives.”

Some responses from people who are working with children are among the best.

Nezumipi writes about a child with autism struggling with her difficulty in making and keeping friends.

“It’s okay if I don’t have any friends. Having friends makes you happy but it doesn’t make you a good person. You know who was really popular? Hitler,” the child said.

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“This girl was so lonely and it was causing her so much pain, but she still managed to see the difference between being popular and being good,” Nezumipi wrote.

Reddit asked the professionals about mental illness.
Hitler: a great example of the difference between being popular and being good.

“We made a project of finding examples of unpopular people who did really good and important things. She still has a tough life ahead of her, but I think her attitude will help her be strong.”

Another Redditor, NerdyMommaMere recounted working with a 16-year-old boy with non-verbal autism who was learning to communicate using a specialised typing app.

“One of his first independently typed sentences was ‘Under my frenzy is freedom’. He completely clarified autism for me with that one sentence.”

Among the comments there were many that talked about the insight of people with mental illness, not just into their own conditions, but also the broader world.

“People diagnosed with mental illness are some of the most brilliant and misunderstood individuals in our society,” Frannyglass wrote.

“I have seen profound moments of insight, from people who self-harm describing the way they feel like a sponge and absorb the world’s pain, to straight up geniuses who just couldn’t find socially acceptable ways to contribute to the world.

“Many of them are bursting at the seams with incredibly complex world views, creative expression, and truly original perspectives, but often lack the ability or support to thrive.

“It’s a real shame we don’t have more respect for our ‘mentally ill’ fellow humans. I am convinced they hold keys that could radically impact our societies for the better.”

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Reddit asked the professionals about mental illness.
“Imagine if every small decision felt like it had life or death consequences”

Jagerboi11 said a patient recovering from body image issues said something that summed up the “whole message of therapy”.

“We spend our whole lives trying to get to a certain place or acquire certain things so that we may be happy. But true happiness is when you realise you are never going to get to that place or that even when you do you will still be dreaming of a new place or new things. So happiness has to start now, with what we have,” the patient said.

There were numerous descriptions of what it’s like to have different mental illnesses or how people with mental illness see themselves.

Depression: “It isn’t sadness. Sometimes… a lot of the time… I just feel like there is a blanket covering me. From head to toe I’m wrapped up in it, I can’t move, I can’t breath, I can’t be me. I feel like someone is just wrapping me up and I can’t do anything about it. I pretend everything is fine, I act like I’m happy and having a good time but really… I’m stuck and can’t escape.”

Anxiety: “Imagine if every small decision felt like it had life or death consequences”.

Bi-polar: “I asked him how he would describe himself: ‘an altruistic lover of truth and beauty’. I then asked him how others would describe him: ‘bit of a c**t probably’.”

Mostly, it’s just a really great way to get a better idea of the complexities of the human brain, and what people with mental illness and the people who work with them feel.

The thread has been extremely popular, with over 7000 comments and counting.

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