Mental illness is a huge bright pink polka dot elephant in the room of some or most homes. No one wants to talk about it. Shhh, let's keep this a secret.
My mother was so ashamed of her parents and she took that secret to the grave with her. She never spoke nicely about her father - in fact, she lied to me about him. I had a cousin tell me he was a loving father. I'm thinking because of my mother's own mental illness, she couldn't receive love from anyone. She did talk about how she had to tell her mother what to do - how to function and that really wasn't the case. I learned, after my mother's death, that her mother suffered from Schizophrenia and Depression. She was institutionalized most of my mother's life. My mother's brother suffered from Schizophrenia and barely came around the family because his aunt and uncle wanted to institutionalize him. He wasn't functioning that well in society and would go off his medication.
My mother insisted I was a normal child even though she knew something was wrong. I'm now putting some pieces of the puzzle together as to one of the reasons she moved away from her family. She may have been afraid they would have institutionalized me for my mental illness. I don't know if this is a fact but then again, I could be wrong.
I don't know what got in my mother's way of talking about mental illness. Does anything get in your way?
In the past, what got in my way of talking about mental illness or being around someone who had a challenge mentally, was that they scared me. I was afraid of the unknown. People who have a mental illness or disorder need to have predictable patterns and lifestyle in order to cope. If they've been abused, their life was not knowing when they were going to get hit, hurt, beaten, etc. Also, over stimulation also leads to a tendency for people to isolate themselves. They need the quiet and calm to function.
Society tends to want to keep things tidy and neat. Mental illnesses and disorders sometimes takes you into a swamp land where nothing is nice. Having shame over having a family member who is mentally ill keeps people from talking about things. The more you keep quiet, the more shame grows. The more you talk about what you don't want to talk about - shame will diminish. What you focus on grows.
I was scared to come out about my mental illness when I received the official diagnosis. I was afraid that people would walk away from me. I was right - some did. Not everyone though. The ones who stayed are my real cheerleaders. The ones who walked away - for whatever reason they had - I have no ill feelings for. If they do or don't come around - I'm okay with that. In fact, new friends have come into my life. I have sought out people who advocate for mental illness as my new friends. We have something in common.
I still have difficulty being around some people who have a mental illness because of how I'm unable to handle uncertainty right now. I am in the process of getting more personalities integrated into my main core personality and just being around normal stimulation becomes overbearing for me most of the time. It takes me 2 1/2 hours for my brain to settle down from wanting to dissociate. I am doing my best to take things in smaller chunks and at times, that is even too much.
So, does anything get in your way of being around someone who has a mental illness? Would you work with someone who did have a mental illness? If you didn't know they had one and they seemed fine, if they had something of value to offer you, would you work with them? Then if you found out they were mentally ill, would you find an excuse to back away?
Education, understanding and compassion will take a person a long way. Educate yourself about different mental illnesses so you can possibly understand something of what someone is going through which will hopefully lead to showing compassion.