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Stigma of Mental Illness


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Hey guys! I am new to this forum and I wanted to start a post about the stigma of mental illness in today's society. Unfortunately this is something that still runs rampant. In a culture today which is more or less accepting of gays, and people of all different beliefs and cultural backgrounds you would think that mental illness would be treated as any other disease. Sadly, this is not the case. People who suffer from mental illness are the ones who in my opinon need the most support and unconditional love. I myself have been unwittingly battling depression since the age of 9 and was only diagnosed and medicated a little over a year ago. I am 21 now. I felt such shame about my diagnosis, I could barely say the word depression out loud, because that would mean branding myself with the unmentionable. I never told my closest friends about it for the longest time. I was hurting so deeply in silence because of my fear to come clean about my illness. Even now, I keep my condition pretty hush hush. ONly those closest to me know. I'm afraid if it were to get out it could affect my career, social life, and dating. I am no longer ashamed of who I am, but the reality is I still am not able to fully disclose who I am because of the above mentioned reasons. This is ridiculous. Having experienced depression pretty badly myself I know how much it would have helped if I had had the courage I needed to come clean. Depression is not a result of lacking willpower or strength of character. On the contrary, the people I know whom have suffered depression are the strongest people I know. Depression is the hardest disease because there is no one bringing you get well cards or flowers. You are all alone in your darkness and have to fight through it on your own. No one around you truly knows what you are dealing with. They just see you as lazy, irresponsible or self centered. I had so many misunderstandings with my friends when I would seemingly blow them off because I was "tired" when really I barely had the strength to live another day. They saw me as being uncaring, but that was the time I needed them the most. We all have to work together to eradicate this stigma of mental illness so the people suffering in silence can truly get the help they need.

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Welcome, to our community, good.

I'm sorry you have struggled with depression for so long. How are you feeling now?

We all have to work together to eradicate this stigma of mental illness so the people suffering in silence can truly get the help they need.

I agree! I also feel mental health needs more attention and acceptance in our society. I feel if more people were educated about mental illness, there would be less misunderstandings, such as what you described happened with your friends. All of us are human and any one of us could be affected by mental illness at any time in our lives. I feel if we were more open about mental illnesses there would be less fear, less distancing, more understanding, and a greater chance of healing for any of us who are suffering.

You have a strong voice and I hope you will continue to spread this important message. Take care.

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One thing I would point out is that there may be two different things going on. Definitely, there are people who would respond badly to being told that one has a mental illness. I do hope that society eventually sees that problem as due to misinformation rather than the reality of the situation.

On the other hand, people who don't know that a person is depressed will often mistake their behavior for something else, for instance misunderstanding it for a lack of caring, say. The same is true of a wide variety of other illnesses, as well. But people aren't mind readers; they can't be expected to know why we behave in certain ways. It's true that "[n]o one around you truly knows what you are dealing with", but at least some of that responsibility is on us, isn't it, to let them know as best we can?

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