Hiya I’m back!!! Just before I get into this post, I thought I’d mention that I recently started a Youtube channel! I upload every Sunday (and maybe have some surprise videos as and when) so chances are, you’ve missed a cheeky upload! Please go and subscribe and show me love because it’s scary business!
You probably already know this but there is a huge ass stigma associated with mental health. A HUGGGGGEEEE one. I’m talking massive. It needs to go.
People with mental health issues are made to feel like it’s their fault that they feel that way. Some people with depression are forced into hiding their moods and “putting a smile on their face” to cover up the emptiness that they feel. People with anxiety are told to “stop worrying” when in simple fact, they really can’t just “stop”.
“Pull yourself together”
“You have no reason to be sad!”
“Just grow up – you’re too old to be worrying about all this!”
“Do you really need happy pills to make you happy? Just you know, be happy”
This advice may seem really nice and supportive. It does a lot of damage. It aids the already growing stigma towards mental illness and does more harm than good for the image that is mental health.
I experienced (and to a degree, still do) an array of mental health issues for most of my teenage life. I’m probably in fact going to deal with those said mental health issues during my twenties too. That’s not me being dramatic, I’m just understanding that some of it won’t go away any time soon and because I’m literally turning twenty by the end of the year, I know it’s not going to go away by then.
With those issues, I’ve also experienced the stigma. I first dealt with it when I first started getting sick. I kept every problem I had to myself because one, I thought it would be over soon and two, I was scared. I was scared because I didn’t want people to know I was struggling. Hence, the stigma being present – struggling = weakness and I didn’t want anyone to see me as weak.
When I was going through my depression, which was my first appearing and diagnosed mental health issue, I had people telling me to “get over it” and to just be happy. It was not as simple as that. Thus, another way the stigma is present. People assume that mental illness is easy to get over when it isn’t. I don’t want to compare physical illness to mental illness because both are very different and serious things, but you wouldn’t tell someone with diabetes to get over it so why is mental illness any different, in that sense?
But this is only my story. Mental illness affects one in four people so if you’re in a class of twenty, at least five of you would be struggling in some way. It may not be all complex mental health issues, it could be phobias or anxiety, but the thing is you are still struggling and each illness is detrimental to life in some way.
The idea that mental health is that (can I even use this word?) popular and common, is worrying. It’s worrying because of how present the stigma is in society too. As I too have dealt with my fair share, I know how difficult it can be to tell someone – especially if they aren’t clued up on mental health.
For example, my nan definitely doesn’t understand anything that has gone on in my life because she grew up in a different time when mental health DEFINITELY wasn’t spoke about to the degree it is now.
I didn’t want to just include my experiences with the mental health stigma so here is a few of my blogger friends take on things:
#1 – “I’ve sadly experienced a lot of it myself, when I tried to open up to my own mum she called me a “mad woman” then I found out that a girl who I thought was my friend was making fun of me for having a panic attack in college saying “she screamed the place down ahahaha imagine telling her bad news she’d flip” that kind of attitude really did hurt me at the time and after one time feeling really low and having suicidal thoughts one person was making me feel guilty saying I’m manipulating and blackmailing friends and family members by thinking that way it’s been very difficult opening up about this” – Katie Hayes (@heyes_katie)
#2 – “If you break down mental health to its core, it’s the well-being and soundness of a persons state. Now imagine if that is sent off kilter. A whole persons personality and how they perceive the day changed to something negative. Potentially every small thing sending their mind tumbling down and down and they can’t control It. When you consider that, how can it be considered anything less than something we need to talk about and make better. Because it could be your brother, cousin, friend, co worker who is effected by it. So let’s end the stigma that poor mental health is something you should just get over. Because mountains can’t be climbed without help and rivers can’t be crossed without support.” – Harry Smith (@harrypotatophsm)
#3 – “Honestly the worst stigma I’ve experienced came from my family. I had mentioned being worried about having depression or anxiety in middle school. They told me that mental illnesses aren’t real and that they’re just for attention. Honestly I think if someone had intervened then it wouldn’t have gotten nearly this severe” – Mentally Spence (@mentally_spence)