Sometimes when I am thinking deeply about things I find myself talking to myself. Does this mean I am going to lose my mind? My family says talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.
Probably not! At times we all find ourselves voicing thoughts in our head. Most of the time we are not aware of it, because there are so many other things going on. Many people especially speak these thoughts out loud when they are alone.
The reason why some people associate talking to yourself with mental health problems may be because some people who hear voices that others cannot hear may converse or argue with their voices out loud. Others who cannot hear these voices might assume the person is talking to themselves. Sometimes these voices can cause someone to become distressed and so others may link talking to yourself with mental distress.
If you hear voices, does that mean you have schizophrenia?
Not necessarily. People can hear voices for many different reasons including bereavement, stress, as well as schizophrenia. Not all people with schizophrenia hear voices.
If you have a mental health problem are you more likely to be violent to others?
No. In fact you are more likely to harm yourself than others. Occasionally, people with mental health problems do hurt or kill others, often because they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most people who are attacked are hurt by individuals who do not have a mental illness but have been drinking or taking drugs. It is very unusual to be killed by a stranger who is mentally distressed.
Unfortunately, if the only information you have about mental illness comes from newspapers and television, you might think all people with mental health problems are dangerous. The media often writes about mental health problems in a negative way. It uses sensational headlines such as 'Schizo in danger drama' to grab people's attention and so sell newspapers. You never see words such as 'Schizophrenic wins top job' or even 'Person with heart problem holds bank employee hostage'.
There is a man who lives down our street. My mum says he is mentally ill. He walks funny, his hands shake, his eyes look like marbles and sometimes he dribbles when he talks. He scares me a little. Is that what mentally ill people look like?
The medication used by doctors to treat people with certain mental health problems such as schizophrenia and mania can have side effects. These side effects include trembling hands, a shuffling type of walk, glassy, staring eyes, muscle spasms and dribbling. These side effects, as well as being unpleasant, can cause others to stay away from people with mental health problems. Others can be frightened and not realise that these problems are caused by medication and not the mental health problem itself. It can feel very lonely and hurtful to be rejected or mocked by others just because of the effects of certain medicines.
Why do we say we are 'fed up' when we are feeling down?
This expression comes from falconry. If birds of prey had eaten too much before being displayed they often did not want to perform or do anything. When people are feeling down it can feel like an effort to actually go and do something.
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