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Why People Find It Challenging To Open Up About Their Mental Illnesses?

My long-time friend and I often like deep conversations on many topics such as self-care, adulting, aging, art,  etc. We have worked on a shared project on mental and emotional well-being in Nepal, bringing in children and people from various backgrounds to share their mental health problems and solutions. She claims to have undiagnosed symptoms of Schizophrenia. I go to her when I need to calm down my mind. This time we talked about how stressful work-life can be and related matters.


Talking about the Asian mentality

We talked about how Asians mostly ignore and don’t give much importance to mental health issues like they either don’t exist or don’t matter much and how we were raised to not pay any attention to them and keep moving forward dragging any mental hardships we may face in life. 

We have been training our minds to see those mental issues as those bruises and muscle aches that make trivial differences to us. We may think that we will overcome them with the passing of time. So, the mental issues we cannot see but feel are ignored because we keep lingering with them and holding them for too long.

It is ignored until it does not have a physical form or until we cannot perform our regular activities the regular way.

Our mental struggles are seen as a sign of how strong we are when facing real-life situations. This is also deemed to be a feature of our family morals and ethics. It is easily deemed to be an inside matter and joined to a matter of upbringing as if family is the morning tea and milk is just the extra milk added on top. We tend to internalize our struggles so it is plainly excused as if everything is fine.


Coming abroad

I gradually switched the talk to her mental health as she has moved away from her comfort zone at home and has come for studying abroad entering adulthood. She has discovered that there was some protective blanket when living with her parents that had been covering her from the extent of all struggles she has now. Coming to the UK has blown away the blanket and shown her clearly how much of a struggle she can face doing simple tasks like getting ready for class, cooking and choosing groceries, etc as she has to be more independent here. 


Insight into mental troubles

Mental struggles are not on only one level. For example, people with Schizophrenia may be struggling with their voices and a person with ADHD or bipolar disorder may not have that problem yet may have difficulty with their day-to-day activities. So, mental illnesses can be of different levels and even they can have their highs and lows. Although a few people know about these highs/lows, only the person actually suffering from them knows them the best as they are the ones who get a hold of them.

There are days or times when everything is perfectly fine with them and their world and there are days when they believe they are flawed forever which is far from reality. Their issues are so familiar to them that they become a part of the person and it's hard to separate them from their personality. They accept their issues as their quirks and the weird self that they are.

They fear being judged on their thinking pattern and their way of perceiving everything to the consequences such as opportunities they might miss out on. People think of them as irresponsible towards their appearance, life choices, and towards the people around them. So they find it extremely hard to open up about their mental struggles.


A take from available records

People who battle with mental problems struggle with it the most during the adulting phase. A study found that people with mental disabilities experience more mental distress than people without disabilities as adults. Despite the records, getting access to mental well-being and services for mental disabilities is really costly as if it is a lavish lifestyle. This makes sense for them to think ‘it to be obvious that people have to be rich and famous before they can talk about what their struggles are and how it has made an impact in their lives.’

Eventually, many mentally challenged learn all they can infer to be hassles of their mental illnesses from a ton of videos and blogs on the internet. Getting diagnosed and therapies are available and accessible only to some people since they just are way too expensive. So people like her even after the well-known impacts of undiagnosed mental challenges can have on their mental health, don’t get diagnosed like they would have gone for a check-up if it were a stomach infection.


Back to our deep talks

At the end of our chat, we realized how coming abroad made us shift our perspective on the importance of our mental and emotional well-being even more. We praised how the people here are attentive to such needs and socially accept their mental health problems but we criticized how these same people don’t contribute to making mental health services affordable for all.

The people in decision-making capacities seem to either not care or are ignorant of how undiagnosed illnesses only become a burden and add more problems to an individual’s life. In the Asian culture, mental disorders and mental health problems may be gossip and rumor of someone going through them but here they may be widely open yet they are unaddressed as if an open wound left without treatment.  

The symptoms, characteristics, and mental problems may be more openly talked about and make the person suffering from mental health issues feel included but society is still inconsiderate about how they can help individuals lessen their everyday problems and live more of a happy and controlled life.

Coming back to me and my friend, we, as good friends, will always be there to listen and understand and support each other in such times and now will not brush our issues under the rug like we were taught to do. We agreed that we could sometimes use counseling or look into available services and use them more regularly if possible.


At Last

People with mental disabilities or not respectively may face various mental obstacles throughout different stages in their life yet the ones with disability have to face them more often.

We as today’s generation should be more positive to seek the attention and help we need when needed. We should plan to always acknowledge issues if we feel something such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, frustrations, etc coming up. It only makes sense to seek help and not mask our issues by being in awkward, weird, and uncomfortable circumstances.

At Last, if you open up about your mental disorders and mental health problems in your community, and seek psychological attention and medication it needs kudos to your courage in being an example of good mental health practice. Leave your views about your experience with mental disorders or with mental health problems.

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