Just Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps (If only we could)

Posted on 06/03/2014 12:24:00 PM

One of the hardest parts of recovery from a mental health problem is the misunderstanding that loved ones have about the disorder. 


Frequently, our clients are told by their support people that they don't 'get' depression.  Why can't the client just get over it, let it go, move on? The reality is that very often, the inability to pull oneself out of the slump IS a symptom of depression. This is very difficult for people to understand if they have never experienced the disorder. 


Imagine you have a very, very sore throat. It's been bad for days, and you see white patches on your tonsils. You have a fever. Given these symptoms you assume you might have strep throat. You go to the doctor and the nurse swabs your throat and runs and test to find out if you have strep or not. If so, the treatment protocol is an antibiotic. For many medical issues, diagnosis and treatment are clear. Within days your feel back to your normal self. 


For mental health issues, symptoms and treatment are often vague. Imagine you went to the doctor for strep and the doctor said, "Well, I think it probably is strep but it might not be. I'm going to give you this medication, and we won't know if it working for at least 3 weeks." And, during that three weeks you feel all the yucky symptoms of strep, without relief. You might have a hard time being as productive as your normally might be without those symptoms. 


This comparison might be helpful for families to understand why loved ones, though they look 'fine' on the outside, are not functioning well.

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