#19 Five ways you can help someone with Depression ; The Dos and Donts

Hi All,

I am going to off with a quote by Thomas Edison himself…The guy who invented the ‘lightbulb moment! and the light bulb too’ …

“Of inspiration one percent; of perspiration, ninety-nine.” -Thomas Edison

So anyway, the point of this quote is that sometimes I don’t feel like writing because I don’t feel inspired to write…but the thing is… If everyone waited for inspiration before they did something great, we would all be waiting around a lot longer for that season 2 of The Good Doctor (shameless plug for my fave show) or the next series of our favourite Netflix Tv Shows (I don’t have Netflix so I am not sure whats on there..). But yes, the main point I am trying to make is that I will try consistently write in this blog, whether or not I am inspired because I have a lot I want to write about but I sometimes don’t feel it is not good enough, interesting enough or it may be written by someone else better. But anyway, everyone has their unique opinion and view and I am interested in hearing your views too.

Also, shout out to ‘The Mighty’ Autism Facebook page and on the main site here for featuring my post on Autism!! I’ve never had anyone except for my sister edit my work and I am forever grateful that they made my text more readable… Hopefully, thanks to the additional exposure to a greater audience, the awareness of Autism will continue to rise!

Anyways, enough babbling from me and now onto the topic of ‘How you can help someone with a mental illness’..The dos and the don’t dos’..does this sentence even make sense? Well, you get my drift right?

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1. Please do take it seriously when we disclose to your our mental illness…

It takes a lot of courage and boldness to share about our internal struggles with the outside world. A lot of hurt, addictions and the stigma that surrounds it can prevent us from sharing. We get affected by how you react, how you might think and the way you may behave towards us after we share with you. No, it’s not just going to go away, it is there for life. Sure, we can manage it with drugs, therapy, and lifestyle changes, but it is a part of us and it has shaped us to be who we are today. So, please don’t belittle our condition, it’s not like we chose to be born with it..or for it to be part of us.

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2. Don’t compare my struggles to your own life-every story and person is different.

This is more so for the people who don’t have the mental condition you have and they try to dismiss your anxieties as something that will pass…They even might say… “I had it worse than you in my own days!” Often this is said by a well-meaning older person to cheer the sad younger person up… but it does NOT help. Your circumstances and mine are different, we are two different people and just because you can’t see my illness, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. From my own personal experience, being brought up in an Asian Christian family meant that Mental Illness is the taboo topic that no one talks about and it made me believe I was flawed and that I had to keep my struggles to myself. I have nothing against Christianity, but I do believe they need to acknowledge that Mental Illness is real as high blood pressure is and may need treatment! Back when I was going through a really hard time due at an old workplace, I finally saw a GP about my insomnia and he diagnosed me with anxiety and depression. He said I should see a psychologist and that I should start medication. I didn’t really want to start medications, so I said I would think about it. I talked to my leader at that church about it and they advised me not to take medications, but to pray to God to heal me instead. So, I continued my suffering…until it got so bad and the suicidal thoughts were real…I talked to a pastor of the church about my struggles and she was like…start the medication…You are in such a bad place-even faith can’t help you right now. Anyways, point being, mental illness is a real condition and while it cannot be cured, you can ‘manage’ it. 

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3. Do keep in touch regularly with your friend/family member that is struggling in their mental illness and don’t take it personally if they are not as ‘happy and fun to be around’ or ‘outgoing’ as they used to be

Having personally experienced multiple depressive episodes, I know the struggles and difficulties of even getting up in the morning from bed! A social gathering with many people I don’t know very well? That’s like me climbing Mt. Everest mate! That’s a lot of effort for someone with social anxiety and depression. While we don’t want to be alone, we don’t have the energy to interact with people and to pretend to be happy and nice to people when we are dying inside. I have had to cancel on numerous people due to being sick because I have been too anxious and had panic attacks… Most people don’t even know I have them, because I am usually reluctant to go out if I feel one coming on. I once went out with someone, who took my panic attack symptoms to be a joke. Literally. They just laughed at me and did not take me seriously…That…really hurt…and made me want to avoid all social contact for a while ( and avoid them)…until I started to trust and build a closer friendship with people that aren’t like them. There are people who will understand you and there are people who don’t and you don’t have to be friends with them. Eff them.  Sorry for the angry rant and bad language… What was I talking about again? Oh yes, please continue to reach out to them! Maybe you can’t physically meet up with them, but you can message them with encouragement, love and let them know that anytime they need/want to talk that you are there for them..<3

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4. Do Help them with resources to help themselves and encourage them to seek help

If someone tells you they are struggling, don’t think that you are now responsible for their well-being and to prevent them from doing harm to themselves. Yes, you care about them, but well all aren’t a trained professional therapist (that’s great if you are! keep doing a good job) and psychiatrists. So, while we can offer peer support, we can help them with real therapy and medications. Let them know about different helplines, drop in places and understanding GPs that can help point them in the right direction. If they are worried about going to their first therapy alone, maybe offer to accompany them for the first few times, until they feel comfortable going alone. Help them build a support network for themselves and this helps you as well so that you don’t have to bear the full weight and responsibility for their well-being. Recommending good articles, websites, books, music, and movies about mental health also help increase their knowledge about the disease too.

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5. Don’t stereotype people by their mental illness

I’ve touched on this in a way on my post about Myths about Autism. Mental illness manifests differently in everyone and by judging you aren’t helping the situation. Even if we have a common certain mental illness, each person’s experience of it is different. After learning that I might have autism, I have since then had the opportunity to meet many others that also have autism…and I can say without a doubt, that they come in all shapes and sizes. Extroverts, introverts, non-verbals and just your everyday quiet dude and they are mostly all interesting people. There is no point in trying to generalise, but there are common traits. One other thing I thought I may add here, is that I have found sometimes doctors don’t take a certain physical symptom I have seriously because they think it is due to ‘my mental illness’. This can include things like my asthma and recurrent migraines (oh it’s just because of your panic attacks, anxiety, and insomnia!) ..but the thing is I literally can’t breathe MADAM and I also have asthma… Also, I have ended up in the hospital due to my ‘migraines’… Hope you get my point.

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Anyways, I am sure there are many more dos and don’t do in interacting with people with mental illnesses. I am curious as to what people have said to you because of your mental illness – Please comment below.

Sorry, it is a somewhat angry post…I not only want to be angry, but I also to change the situation by writing this in the hopes that you can better support those with mental illness.

Thanks for reading!

En-Joy your day!

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#5 How to understand someone with Autism -The Myths and Misconceptions about someone with Autism

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*update*

Here is the Video if you prefer listening to reading!

There are many misconceptions about autism, as many people may only know about it from movies and tv shows…but what is it really? Is everyone autistic good at chess, have supernatural savant abilities or are they all non-verbal? Hopefully, this post will help dispells some common myths and misconceptions about autism.

Myth #1: Autism is like how that movie or TV show portrayed autism is for everyone!

When I say the word Autism, what immediately comes to mind? Is it Raymond the autistic savant in Rain man? Or the equally autistic savant surgeon Dr Shaun Murphy in the Good doctor? Or perhaps it is Sheldon from the Big Bang theory who displays autistic traits?

If TV shows and movies are not your thing… Maybe you have experienced a personal encounter with autism in your childhood. Perhaps, you remember that “special kid” in your class that had trouble communicating with the rest of the class or was often disruptive and non-verbal.

Those with autism are often labelled as strange, weird or quirky and often feel ostracised and often become the victims of bullying at school and also in the workplace.

Myth #2: Only boys get autism! Girls don’t!
It was believed previously that there is that there is a 3:1 ratio of diagnosis of autism in boys in comparison to girls. But, current research and efforts to improve the sensitivity of diagnostic testing for autism has revealed that the number of girls is actually higher than they initially thought. The ratio is most likely to be closer to 2:1 ratio autism in boys to girls.

Why is this the case?

This could be from a multitude of factors, but one particular factor is the difference in the way boys and girls tend to act and also the greater understanding of the different signs and symptoms of autism.

In my opinion, girls tend to live a more sheltered life with a lot of them having their behaviour modified at a young age by their mother or father. Girls tend to be better at mimicking and almost like a chameleon trying to blend in with other girls their age. They may have also grown up with ‘neurotypical’ females around them who they copy, either a sister or a close friend/relative, who then teach and mentor them to act like they are “supposed to”. Boy’s don’t tend to do that as much and hence autistic boys are more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier age and if at all in comparison to girls.

These boys are able to get the help they need to help modify their abnormal behaviours and mindsets at an earlier age. Many girls unfortunately who have pretended to be ‘normal’, seep through the cracks in getting diagnosed and thus grow up struggling to understand why they never seem to fit in with others.

Some questions they may ask themselves:

  • Why do I never know what to say or do in certain social circumstances?
  • How come everyone else knows naturally what to do or say?
  • How can I know if this person is my friend or not? Do they like me or not?
  • How does body language work and why does it matter?
  • What does my tone of voice have to do with anything?

These are only some of the questions autistic people may ask themselves…

Myth# 3: You don’t look like you are autistic! You don’t have to look autistic, to be autistic

Often people misconceptions about people with autism may say, “You can’t be autistic, you don’t look like it!” This can make us who may have autistic feel upset, angry or guilty…are you accusing us of lying and fabricating our diagnosis? You haven’t ever lived in or walked in our shoes before.

Let me ask you, “Does someone have to look like they have high blood pressure to have it? Or does someone have to look like they have kidney cancer to have kidney cancer?”

Physical appearance and attributes are not the only diagnostic markers of people with diseases and if at all for autism.

It’s like judging a book by its cover, you can assume ANYTHING about the book, but unless you open it t and read it, you will not know what is inside.

Myth #4: All autistic people are the same

Autism manifests uniquely differently in each individual and one size does not fit all. Autism has actually been redefined as the ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorder’: It could mean you could be on the more severe ‘Low functioning’ side of the ‘spectrum’ here you may not be even able to speak or communicate with others. On the other hand, you could be ‘ High functioning’ side and live a relatively ‘normal life’, like holding down a steady job, get married and even have kids.

Does that mean that some suffer more than the other? Or does high functioning autistic people not count as having autism? No… they are still autistic and they deserve the help and support that anyone struggling with autism needs.

#Myth #5: Autistic can’t communicate at all and don’t understand other people

I’ve had friends say, when I disclosed my potential for having autism, “You communicate so well and I ‘ve known you so long, surely you can’t have autism”. As Myth number 4 says, autism manifests differently in everyone and everyone is at a different place in the spectrum. Some people on the spectrum are better at copying ‘social norms’ better than others and hence they are able to imitate how to act. This may fool others and maybe even themselves that they are ‘normal’.

Myth #6 You can only get autism as a kid and then you grow out of it

Unfortunately, this is not the case, autism is a lifelong condition. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that happens from birth and at current, there is no known ‘cure’ for it, there is also evidence that it is a genetically passed on disorder from generation to generation, so it can run in families. The only treatment at the moment is behaviour modification from a young age and education for those who may know someone who is affected by autism to be more understanding. However, despite not having a cure for autism, you can still live quite a fulfilling and full life with the appropriate help and support from others.

Fact #7 People with Autism cannot be diagnosed as an adult

As I said, many people, especially females slip through the cracks and can go undiagnosed for many years by acting out their charade. However, when they get found out or if the charade goes wrong, it can lead to mental breakdowns, health problems or relationship breakdowns which may lead them to see a psychologist, doctor or psychiatrist about their mental issues…which they could eventually lead to a diagnosis of autism and this can be as an adult.

Myth #8: Autistic people do not have any emotions and they can never love anyone else or anything

Definitely not true! It’s just that autistic people may show their love and affection in different ways to the way ‘neurotypical’ people may perceive as normal. They definitely are able to love animals and pets, and pets for young kids with autism is a good way to teach them nurturing habits and pets also decrease anxiety in both adults and children. Autistic people can also get married and have kids, they may be at more risk of communication issues in their relationships, but with some work and help from others, they can make it work.

Myth #9 Autistic people can’t be successful or useful people in society

This definitely is the biggest myth of all in my opinion! There are many people in history who are suspected to have had autism or have displayed common autistic traits that may indicate they have autism. Famous people such as Mozart, Albert Einstein, and Isaac Newton have all demonstrated autistic-like traits. Well, known people of today that are suspected to be on the spectrum, (but not officially confirmed) are Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Burton. Some well-known people who have come out as saying they are on the autism spectrum is the singer and winner of Britain’s Got Talent; Susan Boyle, the creator of Pokemon, Satoshi Tajiri and Temple Grandit, a famous animal behaviour expert.

Myth #10 People with autism either have intellectual disabilities or have savant Abilities

As you should be well aware by now, not everyone has a special ability such as a photographic memory, and everyone with autism doesn’t have a learning disorder. Autistic Savants are actually quite rare and please do not assume all autistic people have difficulty learning, yes they may have some difficulties understanding abstract concepts and some learning methods, but their IQ is often normal or above average. In saying that, it is possible for someone with autism to also concurrently have learning disabilities.

I hope this post has been helpful in dispelling some of the myths in regards to autism! If you noticed anything incorrect or you want to add something, feel free to leave a comment below! Like always, follow, subscribe and like if you enjoyed or found this post useful! As this is an important issue for me-I am going to post a video with the same information too…

See you next week!

Joy