As a person who has struggled with severe depression since the age of 14, one of my biggest struggles has always been with how others view depression. I have always felt embarrassed of my depression. Never feeling like I can freely admit to people that I am just sad today for no real reason. People don’t get it. In fact, our society has stigmatized mental health disorders.
I have experienced this stigma first-hand. As someone who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I have refrained throughout my life from ever telling people. The reason being is the way it is viewed…Think about it for a second. How often have you heard people say,
“She is crazy. She is like bipolar or something”.
Ouch. The fact is I have heard this expression or similar expressions far too often.
Because I live a normal life and I have my disorder relatively under control I do not want to be labeled, “crazy”, because I am not. I also don’t want people to judge my emotions. Meaning, I have experienced first-hand people brushing off my feelings because I am bipolar. For some reason, my feelings are not valid once my disorder is known.
In general, I want to bring light to the fact that, as a whole, our society is not accepting of those of us with mental health problems. It is not just bipolar disorder…it is sadly all mental health disorders. I am not alone.
There are millions just like me who keep their mental health disorders hidden. This is the problem. This is why so many of us go untreated. This is why bad things happen everyday to those of us experiencing the disorder or violent acts committed against those closest.
Simply put, we need to stop stigmatizing mental health disorders! Be part of the solution. Take action by:
- Standing up and saying something when you hear others making negative comments about mental health disorders
- Don’t allow mental health disorder stereotypes to continue – say something
- Talk freely about your feelings – especially if you are suffering from a mental health condition
- Listen to others who may be experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other issues
- Make it the norm – the fact is most of us will suffer from depression at some point in our lives
- Educate yourself, learn more about what it means to have a mental illness
- See the person, not their illness
Let’s put an end to this stigma and make our society a better place.