1. Health

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

Financial Stress

Readers Respond: What Does "Mental Illness" Mean to You, And Why?

Responses: 19


Updated February 11, 2014

It's physical

I have a physical illness that makes me act different. Chemical imbalance in my brain is something I have no control over like someone who has cancer.
—Guest irregularbird

Mental Illness

Mental illness is such a broad term that affects people in so many ways. Many have tried to define the illness in ways that people can understand more clearly. Each mental illness has its own shop window. However, if you look in one shop window you will see red shoes and in another you will see black, some will be high heels other will be flaties. We can all try to describe our own definition but still fail to be clear. What we need to do is gain as much information as we can and be compassionate about what the information tells us. There will ALWAYS be the people that do not understand or even wish to understand, that is why human beings are so unique. Without compassion there will always be exploitation, whether it is governments, police or neighbours. This does not mean we should forget some or all of the experiences that we have or the person with the illness shows. We also have to protect others from some of the fall out from these episodes. Some episodes may well be a one off.
—Guest Oldsoldier

By Any Other Name...

I don't like using the term mental illness to describe my situation. I'd rather say sick and let them friends and family wonder. For instance, I've been collecting SSDI benefits for about 23 years and whenever I tell someone that I'm on social security, I don't like being asked what my disability is. It's really none of "their" business. On those rare occasions that I do 'fess up and say "mental disability" I get that usual yet obligatory big sigh. What the heck does it matter to anyone that I collect SSDI because of a mental disability? Beats me, but that term has been seriously and severely given a stigma that is hard to get rid of!

"Mental illness"

An illness that is lifelong, that affects the way a person sees the world and his/her place in the world, and that affects every relationship a person has.

©2015 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.