What Makes Mental Illness Worse Is The Stigma Attached
Thankfully, things have improved in medicine, and treatment, and understanding and there is less stigma today than there ever was.
Asylums have been closed where patients were abused instead of cared for. But since stigma can still be a problem today, let's talk about it a little.
What makes one feel stigmatized?
A boy in school was really poor at sports and all the other kids used to pick on him and give him such a hard time that he felt miserable most of his school days. (This is sort of what it feels like to feel stigmatized by our illness. We didn't ask for it and don't want it and we aren't bad people for having inherited it are we?)
Try and put yourself in other people's shoes once in a while. The neighbor with poor hygiene from being depressed is a person too and probably needs encouragement. They want and need love and acceptance, even if it's hard please try!
Stigmas of depression
While polite encouragement for the ill person is needed and helps and is much appreciated, many of our friends and family make us feel even worse.
Imagine if you had cancer for example, and you consistently heard:
“Why don’t you try harder?”
“Oh, you're just lazy”
to collect SSI money.”
What is one word to describe this feeling that makes people feel much, much worse?
STIGMA! A six-letter word that feels more like a four letter word.
“You’re not really mentally ill! Get off your meds.”
“You’re not the same person I used to know, the one I liked.”
“Oh, your weight is out of control! Those meds don’t cause it, it’s because you pig out!”
Some thoughts from random people:
“On top of all my insecurities, my trouble with just getting thru one day to the next,
my family doesn’t even love me or support me. They don’t understand.”
“It’s tough that a large majority of the world is uninformed and that there is still a stigma.”
Sharing Illness with Others
I hope that families and friends will be more supportive, and prevent things from getting worse.
One thing that’s difficult for some is that they cannot really talk about their ever present symptoms with the secretary in the doctor’s office for instance, or the cashier in Home Depot. Because they have these inner battles, these internal demons if you will, and it seems inappropriate to talk about it. It’s hard to hide it, and act like everything is normal sometimes.
And the people you do tell- are they going to respect you, or not respect you? (Deep down you know they are not worth it if they don't.)
But you can overcome these fears! Many people have found a better quality of life, and many work as peer specialists, helping their peers by taking classes and showing their own success story.
It makes sense that they feel comfortable in a setting with supportive friends and staff, but we need to feel more comfortable in society. An important thing that I have learned is that I feel so much better self esteem wise, in many ways when I work or go to school.
Did you know that 1 in 4 people have mental illness?
Mental illness can be very slight or very severe. Every case is different even if 2 people are bipolar; they are very different and may require very different medications!
You can work.
You can go to school.
You can achieve your dreams.
Never give up!
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