Hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and even paranoia can run rampant in the mind of someone with mental illness. I think part of what makes mental illness so hard to grasp is because if you never experience these things they can be unusual from the outside looking in. From the inside, they are not only unusual but downright terrifying.
So how can we begin to understand where someone with hallucinations or something else is coming from? Believe it or not, reassurance goes a long way. I will never forget driving my oldest daughter home to stay with me for the weekend. Almost the entire drive I was hallucinating and things were coming out of the woods after us. My daughter, who is only 10, calmly assured me there was nothing there and we continued to drive. The next thing you know we were stuck in in traffic by a very thick treeline. I started to see these creatures emerge once more only now I was stuck and couldn’t go anywhere.
Noticing I was in a complete panic, my daughter took my hand and told me to look away from the woods. She chanted with me “there is nothing there” until the traffic began to move again. My breathing slowly returned to normal and in my mind, I had just escaped with not only my life but the life of my daughter as well. That is how REAL the hallucinations can be. Sure, we may all like to get a good laugh at the guy that sees the two men following him, but to him it is real and it is scary.
That’s the problem with stigma. Those of us that experience these things are just labeled “crazy” or “psycho”, but we have illnesses just as real as cancer or diabetes. I doubt anyone undergoing chemotherapy would be called “crazy because they just couldn’t eat because they literally had no appetite or were just too nauseous to do so. That’s what makes it a stigma and that’s why it has to stop.