What exactly are mental illnesses anyway?

Hey y’all! Today we are going to learn exactly what mental illnesses are!


In order to further discuss how to combat stigmas and further education regarding mental illnesses, we must first understand exactly what a mental illness is. The American Psychiatric Association says that mental illnesses are “health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion, or behavior (or a combination of these three). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work, or family activities.” Mental illnesses, in layman’s terms, are disorders associated with one’s mental state. Luckily, recovery is possible with mental illnesses.


There are hundreds of different types and subtypes of mental illnesses, but NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) has a list of 13 major categories of mental illnesses that can be further broken down. These 13 categories include: 1) ADHD, 2) Anxiety Disorders, 3) Autism, 4) Bipolar Disorders, 5) Borderline Personality Disorders, 6) Depression, 7) Dissociative Disorders, 8) Early Psychosis and Psychosis, 9) Eating Disorders, 10) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, 11) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders, 12) Schizoaffective Disorders, and 13) Schizophrenia. NAMI gives a little definition of each of these illnesses, and if requested, I will definitely write a blog about them that goes into more depth!

It is important to know that the intensity of the effects felt by the disorder varies not only on a day by day basis, but also on a minute by minute basis. Think of it like… if you fell and scraped your elbow on the pavement. There are times where you completely forget about the injury, but when something brushes up against it, a whirl of pain encompasses you. Pain is not constant; it ebbs and flows with stimuli from the environment, and the same can be said about mental illnesses.

There are highs and lows each day—some days, the highs felt are like mountains; other days, however, there can be massive valleys. But these are extremes, and there are a wide range of emotions that can be felt in-between these mountains and valleys, feelings that take place every day. If you hear someone has a mental illness, you should not picture them at their valley, because that is not their constant state. People who endure mental illnesses are very stable, and are able to maintain healthy lives, as long as they are healthy themselves.


By healthy I don’t mean eating kale every day and running marathons. Health is broken down into three sections: physical, emotional, and mental. While eating kale is healthy physically, you also need to think about your emotional and mental health. To be fully healthy, all three aspects of health need to be accounted for. Relax, take deep breaths, and calm down. Think about things clearly and objectively, and the results shall follow.


Many people have begun to show the public what it feels like to live with mental illnesses and they can be very powerful. For example, the video below are depictions of mental illnesses by an artist named Shawn Cross.

If you have the time, also scroll through Huffington Post’s site and see photographic depictions of 12 different types of mental illnesses.

Until Saturday, my Warriors!—

Medicated Normalcy♥



  1. bk · March 2, 2017

    I think this is a really good post! I liked your analogy about falling down and scraping your knee, and how sometimes you forget about the injury but then the next minute you brush up against something and all the pain comes back. That is a really relatable way to describe a mental illness. I think you have a very good thought process going on this, maybe you can include more on how to stay healthy–mentally, physically, and emotionally. Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Medicated Normalcy · March 2, 2017

      That is definitely a great idea! I will definitely write a blog about how to stay healthy, thank you! I have found that analogies are the best way to describe mental illnesses to those who do not know too much about it, and even to those who have some prior information! 🙂


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