Don’t assume I’m not mentally healthy because of my Pompe disease

In order for mental health to be treated, there has to be a mental illness to treat. Should it be assumed that people with rare diseases are suffering mentally because of their situation? Should people with rare diseases be treated for a mental illness even without being properly diagnosed?

When you have a disability, especially a rare disease, you are assumed by society to be depressed, unhappy, and miserable. You are assumed to have low confidence, so low that others feel the need to associate you with someone like yourself. Doctors will mention support groups to you and friends will want to introduce you to others they know with a similar disability. It’s definitely not a bad thing, because, honestly, we love knowing others who are like us, who we can connect with and be friends with.

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It is a bad thing, however, to assume we’re not happy just because of our disability. I was 14 years old when I was told by a doctor that I was suffering from depression and that I need medication. They completely ignored the fact that I was a teenager who couldn’t go to a concert I had tickets for and was very excited about because I got sick and had to stay in the hospital. I was sad, and yes, I cried, and all I kept saying was I need to get out of this hospital to make it to the concert. And to doctors, my sadness was a true sign of depression.

I wasn’t depressed. I can say that now and be sure of it because not only do I have a degree in psychology, but I also watched my dad suffer from depression, leading him to attempt suicide. And when his doctor put him on medication, it helped. He got back into a healthy mindset. That just goes to say how serious a mental illness is and should never be misdiagnosed. 

I’m big on mental health because I know how serious it is, but should it always be associated with a disability? If you would get to know me personally, you would learn I’m an introvert and a tad asocial. For those who don’t know, asocial is not the same as antisocial. Asocial is when you choose to avoid social interactions but still can engage in such interactions. 

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This is a very noticeable trait about me. I will set off in a corner and watch everyone interact with each other, and that’s because I’m an empath. I’m extremely sensitive to everyone’s energy and it affects my own. I don’t like to be around a lot of people because I don’t like feeling everyone’s energy.

And I think you must be spiritual to understand what I mean, but I understand if you don’t, as well. My point is you don’t have to assume I have a social anxiety disorder just because I’m disabled and like to stay to myself. Our rare disease is too much associated with mental disorders, not just by society but with doctors as well.

Many people with a rare disease do suffer mentally. When it’s a rare disease, it’s a situation that you’re facing alone and the struggle can become overwhelming sometimes, even causing unhealthy thoughts. And sometimes it’s only for a brief period. Last year I spent months with depression due to personal things going on, one being completely terrified of COVID-19. However, we can’t skip over the fact that yes, sometimes mental disorders do stem from the struggle of having a rare disease. 

But when this is the situation, we don’t have to be told an anxiety disorder emerges from how we view ourselves and our lives, even though it’s a little more complex than that, and physically abled healthy people also frequently suffer the same disorders.

I believe when it comes to mental illness, everyone should speak out and reflect on their own unique circumstances. Medication and therapy are necessary staples to pursue a healing path. My advice: nobody should ever feel ashamed of suffering mental or emotional stresses, or pursuing the help they need. And others should never assume that a rare disease or disabled person is suffering from psychological or mental health deficiencies just because they have that rare disease or disability.