This was a subject I wanted to revisit, I wasn’t happy with the original post, but I set it live anyway. Now some time has passed, I want to revisit the subject of stigma and how as mentally ill people, we can’t just “get over” it.
We need to open up the conversation more when it comes to mental health, while now more than ever people are spreading awareness and doing wonderful things, the stiga surrounding various disorders, and the subject in general is shocking.
I have seen many comments, also I’ve had some directed my way that people who are mentally ill are lazy, crazy, unwilling to change and just need a good dose of reality. When in fact, we are none of these things, we are people with illnesses just trying to get through the day like the rest of society. Our illnesses/disorders are just as valid, as well as potentially dangerous as several physical issues, we need the same amount of love and respect as that. I am in no way comparing illnesses, or trying to start a debate on which is worse, I am just here to tell my truth and how I feel we can co-exist would the unnecessary judgement thrown our way.
I am just one person, but I am very passionate about this, I might not be able to change the mind of the masses, but if I can spark a healthy conversation about the subject, I’ve done my job.
Let’s just say, you see a person who is limping, how would you approach conversation with them? I highly doubt you’d tell them that people have it worse, or they should be grateful that they have their leg. You wouldn’t question if they were being “dramatic” for being bothered by the pain they may be feeling. So why is that mentality towards a person who is dealing with mental health issues okay?
Is it because it isn’t always visible? You’d be surprised how well people can mask internal pain. It is all too easy to fake a smile, it is all too easy to seem adjusted while you are at work. From the outside, you could have it all, but in your head there is a storm that you can’t escape from and you find yourself drowning in plain sight. Nobody can see that rising, cruel water other than yourself.
Mental illness does not care who you are. It doesn’t care if you’re a parent, if you’re married, if you’re poor, rich, it does not discriminate. It takes over your very being. It consumes you, it’s a constant battle with a body that wants to live and a mind that just doesn’t function the way it should.
The brain is what controls our entire body. It regulates our emotions, feelings, it gives us mobility, and feeling. Think of it as a motherboard of a computer. Some parts of a computer can be replaced or fixed easily, if that motherboard is defective, it causes the computer to function incorrectly and affects its stability.
Knowing the control the brain has over a person, why is it so hard to believe that the chemical imbalances within it, which is often the cause of mental health matters, can affect a person to the point they can’t function? Anxiety disorders have you constantly believing you’re in danger, depression makes living seem so pointless, not forgetting the other disorders that can cause hallucinations, that can cause a person to tear out their hair, that can make a person be overwhelmed by voices that nobody else can hear.
We’re not asking for sympathy. We are asking for some empathy and compassion. We don’t want any “tough love”, that isn’t going to help. To help a person who struggles with mental illness, just be there for them, a simple “I’ll be here if you need me”, offer to listen when they need to vent, keep in contact with them, and most importantly, be patient.
I’ve copied the following information from Mind.com, a very helpful resource for mental health related matters.
What practical support can I offer?
There are lots of practical things you can do to support someone who is ready to seek help. For example:
Look for information that might be helpful. When someone is seeking help they may feel worried about making the right choice, or feel that they have no control over their situation. Our page on making yourself heard will give you some ideas on what research you can do, and ways you can help someone think about what might work for them.
Help to write down lists of questions that the person you’re supporting wants to ask their doctor, or help to put points into an order that makes sense (for example, most important point first).
Help to organise paperwork, for example making sure that your friend or family member has somewhere safe to keep their notes, prescriptions and records of appointments.
Go to appointments with them, if they want you to – even just being there in the waiting room can help someone feel reassured.
Ask them if there are any specific practical tasks you could help with, and work on those. For example, this could include:
offering them a lift somewhere
arranging childcare for them
taking over a chore or household task.
Sometimes, life is tough, anybody can struggle. If we could all just be nice and supportive to each other, I honestly believe the world would be a better place. If you don’t understand what a person is going through, ask them.
If you don’t know how to approach the subject, that is fine, there are plenty of resources available to you here are some:
You are strong, you are not alone!
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