Statistically speaking, it is highly likely that we all know someone who has experienced a mental illness at some point in their life, yet there are still harmful attitudes around mental illnesses that fuel the stigma and make it harder for people to reach out for help.Continue reading
Tag: Mental Illness Awareness Week
I saw an article talking about this tweet on Facebook just now. I realize it’s almost a year old, but the article, for some reason, was only written a few days ago.
The date is irrelevant though. It’s still a very important topic.
— matteson (@mattesonquint) October 25, 2015
If you are aware of what OCD actually is, then you will understand why the girl was offended by this sweater. And to be honest I am too.
Two years ago, I probably would have laughed at it, but that was before I knew what OCD truly was. I admit, I was previously guilty of making OCD jokes, but now that I know what it is, I do not make them anymore, and I actually find them quite upsetting.
Reading some of the responses to @ReignMurphy‘s tweet, reminded me, yet again, how clueless people really are.
One insensitive tweet (I am not giving credit to the author!) read:
@ReignMurphy you’d think someone with OCD wouldn’t dress & look as stupid as u, I don’t have OCD but looking @ u would drive me nuts #growup
Yeah, because OCD means you can’t go out with short died hair and a sweater…? What?! That makes no sense.
There were also several responses telling her to lighten up and laugh it off and whatnot. Sure, it’s great to joke about our mental illnesses. In fact it often makes it easier to deal, especially when joking with people who can relate.
I have a friend with cerebral palsy and she often jokes about how it effects her daily life and has plenty of funny stories to go with it. She has several friends with cerebral palsy as well (some of who I have met) and when they get together they can make fund of themselves and have no problem with it. I can’t say I can relate to them in that sense, and I certainly wouldn’t go around making jokes about it, but they see the lighter side of it. At the same time, they will also stand up to people who do say inappropriate things about their disabilities.
The problem isn’t the jokes themselves. The problem is when uneducated people make these jokes, they are contributing to the stigma and misunderstanding of mental illness or disabilities or other illnesses and conditions (it’s not only mental illness that has this problem) and this often causes people who are suffering to continue to suffer in silence.
Because of society’s views on mental illness, we see these disorders as a weakness or character flaw, when in truth they are real, treatable conditions that many people struggle with. Most are manageable, and some people can even reach complete recovery from their mental illness. Yet, we are often afraid to open up and talk about them for fear of being judged or stigmatized. While logic tells us that we shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed, many of us have experienced the stigma and in a lot of ways that is harder to deal with than the illness itself. So we don’t speak up. And that’s a huge problem.
It was the stigmatization I experienced before I had any idea that I had anxiety and depression that prevented me from getting the help I needed. I remember as early as the first grade, right up through high school and college, several occasions where I was having a hard time with various things. I had very obvious signs of anxiety and depression, but being a child and having no education in the area of mental health, I had no idea what was going on.
As a child I relied on my parents and the adults in my life to support me, but I was told, countless times, to suck it up, get over it, stop being over dramatic or sensitive, etc. I was even told flat out, by my parents, that I didn’t have depression, when I mentioned symptoms from a commercial for depressionhurts.ca. That was about 5 years after I started exhibiting signs of depression, 4 years after one of my teachers called them in to my school to tell me I wasn’t as happy as the other kids in my class, and about 8 years before I was actually diagnosed. It was that experience, along with several others that stopped me from talking to anyone, including my doctor, about what was going on in my head, because I was convinced that I would, once again, be told I was making it up.
I’m not going to get into an argument with some random on the internet about this stuff, because it’s just not worth it, however, I do firmly believe that the general public’s language around mental health needs to change. People need to be more educated.
It’s still less than two years since I was initially diagnosed (the anniversary is getting close though) and it’s been a rough journey, but I am learning to pick my battles. I’m trying to be less sensitive, but I still feel very passionate about awareness and ending the stigma, so I am not going to stop talking about it any time soon.
October 2-8, 2016 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Spreading Awareness, Reducing Stigma.
Today is World Mental Health Day and the last day of Mental Illness Awareness Week, so I felt that I should post something on my blog since mental Illness and Mental Health is the main topic of most of my posts, and also because it has been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.
I started writing something yesterday, but kept getting distracted. Then later in the evening, I was too tired. This morning, I slept until 11:45, something I haven’t done in several weeks. Then I spend the majority of what was left of the day to try and get my damn post finished, but I was constantly losing my concentration, and what I was writing was getting rambly and I was beginning to lose sense of what I wanted to say to begin with. So I scrapped it, and started over. Then I scrapped that as well and now here we are.
Let’s be honest. The reason I’ve been struggling so much with this, is because I’ve been struggling, overall, for the past little while.
There is no on/off switch for mental illness. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. There is no quick/easy fix. Treatment and recovery of mental illness is not as linear as we’d all like to believe or wish it was.
It’s up and down. Small steps forward met with giant leaps back. It is a lot of serious, hard work, but it is possible. Although I have not yet gotten there, I know that I can, even though sometimes I feel like giving up.
Right now, I am in the midst of one of those giant leaps backwards. Over the past few months, I was dealing with a situation that caused me more stress than I ever could have expected. My stress was met with overwhelming hurt and betrayal, and ultimately led to feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
Although most of that has subsided, I am still hit unexpectedly with reminders of how the situation made me feel.
More recently, there was a happy event happening that, even though I knew it was coming, snuck up on me and triggered really strong feelings that on the surface could be misconstrued as jealousy, but in truth it made me feel like I am never going to be happy with my life. It made me feel lonely, even though I was surrounded by people. The overwhelming hopelessness of it all also brought back the thoughts of suicide I hadn’t experienced in over a month. I went for several weeks without crying, at all, even when I felt like I wanted to, my body just wouldn’t let me, but I have cried at least once, every single day for the past 9 days. I’ve found myself not laughing at things I usually laugh at. I don’t want to do anything except lie in bed and be completely alone.
For someone on the outside, all of this will seem completely irrational, and you’d be right. It is irrational. But for someone with depression and anxiety, this is a daily battle. Our minds will try to convince us that we are shit. Even though, deep down, we know it’s not true, when all those thoughts and feelings are right there, and are always the first thing that pops into your head, it becomes very difficult to fight those feelings and remind yourself of the rational things, that the illness is lying to you.
This is the problem with society’s perspective on mental illness. They think that we can just turn our depression or anxiety off whenever we want, or that we’re just doing it for attention. The person who pretends to be happy on the outside while suffering silently on the inside with and wants to die because they feel like their life is completely hopeless and they will never be happy, they’re depressed for attention? Really? No one knows that they are depressed, and yet society says they’re doing it for attention. Yeah, that makes sense.
Just like a person with cancer can’t cure themselves by telling their body not to produce cancer cells, or someone with a broken bone can’t tell their bone to not be broken; a person with depression can’t just stop being sad or feeling helpless and alone, or a person with anxiety can’t just stop worrying about things that will probably never happen. Just like any other illness, mental illnesses require treatment. And just like many illnesses, mental illnesses have a wide range of possible treatments, and it often takes some time to find the right one.
Anyways, this was probably one of the hardest posts for me to write, and although I struggled to find my purpose in writing it, the point I really wanted to get across is that we really need to make the world more aware and understanding of mental illnesses and the people who have them. We need to end the stigma!