Mental Illness, Is There a Stigma?

We always hear about having to end the stigma surrounding mental illness but I’m asking does it still exist? So many people, celebrities and sports people included are coming forward to publicly discuss their mental illnesses. Some people are actually becoming famous because of their mental illness by speaking publicly about it.

Here’s the thing though, despite the moves made to normalise mental illness there is absolutely still a stigma. Very few people are willing to admit they are mentally ill for fear of what others think about them. How many people do you know who absolutely need to seek psychiatric help or psychological help and they are the very people who would never get help? I know shed loads of these people. It’s madness, these people need psychological help more than the sun needs hydrogen and yet they would rather suffer massively than get the help they need.

Why is this? It’s because there is a stigma around mental illness. Imagine these people refusing to seek help for a broken leg? Imagine you had sudden onset migraines and instead of going to the doctor to get your head checked out you refuse to go because you don’t believe in neuroscience? It would be laughable. Outrageous!

Yet it’s exactly what people do regarding mental illness. There are some people so ignorant out in the world that they tell people with anxiety to just calm down and tell depressed people to just cheer up… I mean for anyone reading this with understanding of these issues knows for a fact that not only is this advice useless it’s dangerous because it makes mentally ill people terrified to open up about their issues and means they have to fight their issues alone.

It’s the equivalent of telling people with HIV to just have a shower to get better. Imagine if we treated people with HIV as if it wasn’t a real illness and we just told them they were dirty. Envisage that society then made it so desperately awkward to have HIV that people with it would just let the disease take them over and kill them rather than seek help…

We used to live in a society in which having HIV was considered dirty. We now live in a society where it is accepted that HIV happens and because of this empathy and understanding people with HIV now live normal lives and HIV rates are always on the down. Of course there is still some stigma around HIV but if we can move on from the times of treating HIV infected people like feral animals surely we can get to the same place regarding mental illness? Mental illness has been around a lot longer than HIV yet it’s still stigmatised.

As someone who battles a mood disorder every day of my life I admit I hate admitting it. I seriously hate having it out on the internet but it’s something that needs to be done. And by doing this I’m hoping to battle the stigma and help others who are afraid to talk up. If you are mentally ill and someone tells you to just not be anxious anymore or to just stop being depressed you have to ignore them. They are ignorant people. Leave them to their ignorance. Do not let your life be destroyed by these idiots. They would have people’s lives destroyed just because they are too lazy to pick up a book and read once in awhile. Don’t be ashamed of what illnesses you have.

You weren’t ashamed when you had flu, a broken leg or tonsillitis. So don’t be ashamed that your brain is having issues. It happens. And I would hypothesise that those who tell us to cheer up and be happy etc. are people who beat their own emotions so deep down in terror at facing their own pain that they need psychological help more than you.

Mental illness is stigmatised. It’s wrong but it can only change with your example. If you have the strength the fight that stigma it is almost your responsibility to do so for those not strong enough yet to do so. There was a time I wasn’t ready to stand up against the stigma. I now am, it took me many many years and a mental breakdown in China to garner the strength but I got it. And now I’m here calling others like me to stand up to the stigma and stand up to the hate against the mentally ill.

Drop a comment, you can write under a pseudonym if you want, but admitting you are sick on the internet is a great way to realise you won’t die by admitting you’re sick. Just writing this blog has given me great strength even though in all reality the people reading this are total strangers to me. But I feel great for it, it’s like the weight on my shoulders weighs a little less today.

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