The thing that everyone experiencing mental illness dreads to think about: stigma. It is a painful reality in today’s day and age, stigma, and it only increases the issues presented by mental illness such as isolation, anxiety and self-loathing. Although people like to believe that it doesn’t exist, and today everyone is coming out and being open and honest about their diagnoses, this is simply not true. The ignorance surrounding the knowledge of what mental illness is and how it affects individuals all completely differently is astounding.
Having been heavily affected by the stigma that comes with mental illness, I have a few things to say about it.
It hurts feeling like you have to do everything alone and have to be accountable for all of your actions even though sometimes your illness blurs the lines between what is you and what is your sickness coming out to play. It hurts losing friends and partners because they won’t give you the understanding and love that they do to the others in their life that aren’t afflicted, and are “more consistent.” It hurts knowing that for yourself, you’ll never be good enough, or normal, or worthy of love and commitment because you are a plague that ruins good things.
Stigma pushes us into a corner, and bullies us into bowing our heads and pushing through alone. Because ultimately, facing your suicidal thoughts is so much easier than facing judgement from your peers. Why is it like this? Why can’t we offer support and love like we do to those with physical illness and disease? Why is there a stigma attached to everything we do?
I believe that one day, people will feel comfortable enough to come forward. Comfortable enough to admit that when they are sick, they can access help because it isn’t embarrassing, it’s life! Well, I say believe but it’s more like hope. I don’t know if things will ever get better in the world, but that doesn’t mean that we have to suffer.
Please, if you are in a place of real darkness, real pain, real feelings reach out and try to help yourself. It is so painful to keep your head down and walk blindly without feeling through life. It’s also incredibly lonely. Don’t lose the people that mean everything to you because you let your illness take control. Don’t lose touch with who you always were and still are. Don’t endure your life anymore, live it.
Another day, another opportunity.