This great piece of writing is from the http://telephantitroom.wordpress.com
This is exactly what most of us feeling when dealing with mental health issues and thank you for letting me post this here:)
It seems that mental illnesses in general are marked with a certain stigma, I can only relate to the stigma I have felt for my mental health issues.
You see, I have suffered with a variety of mental health problems for a while now: depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts OCD, Dyslexia and to top it off Aspergers.
All of these things have such a terrible stigma attached and that’s sad. We have all seen the quotes and posters about how you wouldn’t tell someone who had cancer to get better, or someone with a broken leg get up and walk somewhere. And I’m not going to dwell on those things because after all. The majority of us with mental health issues can probably say that even people who tell you they “understand” often do not, and often still say things that hurt without even realising.
Here is stigma’s dictionary definition;
“A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.”
When you see Stigma written in its most basic form it strikes a whole different chord. It begins to sound a lot more aggressive and isolating. A “mark of disgrace”. Because it’s all in our heads right? And we should be “disgraced” Shouldn’t we?
Should we be disgraced about our mental health problems? To disgrace something is to discredit it. To discredit something is to harm its reputation, to dishonour something. I wasn’t aware we still lived in a time before the research on mental health, before understanding, before science. Are we still treating those with mental health issues the way they were treated 50 or 60 years ago? Discrediting, disgracing, disregarding them?! Without the violence and imprisonment?
Let me step back a little “We should be disgraced?” No. We should never feel bad for an illness. And I refuse to let anyone tell me, or anyone else different. Mental illness is just as “valid” as physical illness.
I personally struggle to open up about my mental health issues and unfortunately that is due to the stigma I have received. I have been treated like I was an idiot for being dyslexic, like I am incapable of doing anything because of my Aspergers, like I am wallowing in self pity over things any “normal” person would have got over within a few weeks because of my depression, like I have no right to worry about “silly things” because anxiety isn’t “real”. This needs to change. And whilst I struggle to open up about them, it doesn’t mean that I have let stigma destroy my life.
I will finish this on a positive. Despite my mental illnesses and the things they could very well have stopped me from doing if I had let the way people stigmastise them become my own opinion. I got a degree whilst working two consecutive jobs, I have experience working for a variety of media companies big and small, I have never once had a sick day from my current job (in 6 years), I have used my experiences to create a blog that I like to think helps people develop a knowledge of their own mental health issues. But most of all, I like to think i have fought stigma and I continue to do so.
No one should be made to feel inferior for their illnesses, mental or physical.
The Elephant in the Room