3.18.2013

Mental Illness Stigma (and other nonsense)


I wrote this on my tumblr last night. I got some really great responses, so decided to post here as well · photo via happydyingsun

Just because I’m a blogger, just because I choose to share parts of my life with the internet, just because I’m open about my experiences and share my knowledge of mental illness with others, does not mean it’s not genuine. I’m continually told “not to talk about it publicly”, as if I’m supposed to hide something that is such a huge part of who (and why) I am. Why would I do that?

“People with anxiety would never put themselves out there” — you see, that’s where you’re wrong. Not everyone’s anxiety is the same. Just because I post pictures of myself wearing makeup on the internet doesn’t mean that some days I don’t struggle to leave my bed, let alone the house.

“But you have friends and you’re attractive” — what does that even have to do with having a mental illness or disorder? Yes, having friends and taking care of my appearance certainly helps me when I’m feeling down, but it most definitely doesn’t prevent/fix anything.

“Stop worrying so much” — see, that’s the thing. It’s not something you can turn off. You can be totally okay one minute, just busying yourself, washing dishes and BAM. Flashbacks of trauma. Uneasiness. Panic sets. You can breathe it out, but it doesn’t just suddenly disappear. So many think that it’s something you can just stop, but it’s not. If it were, don’t you think I would?

“Just suck it up and get over yourself. Pop a Xanax and shut up.” — would you tell someone with asthma or another sickness/disorder to suck it up? Having a mental illness or disorder is no different. This is what so many fail to understand. It’s not something that we can suddenly just fix, and it’s certainly not something someone chooses to have. Pop a Xanax? As if I haven’t heard that before. Thank you for belittling what I have to something that can be so quickly cured with a small pill! So quick to judge and tell people what to do, yet completely uneducated about the subject.

I write about my experiences with anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD because it has helped and continues to help people understand. It also helps me. I think the worst part of it all is the ridiculous hate I seem to get because I choose to talk publicly about something that deeply affects my daily life. I will continue to write and share — if you don’t want to hear/read, then don’t.

I’m not ashamed.

16 comments:

  1. And you should not be.. writing is a good way to release them even a little..

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  2. I really appreciate this post! I do suffer from a mental illness and it is something that I didn't choose so I am not ashamed.
    The only thing to get rid of the stigma is definitely to educate people and talk about our feelings! :)
    xx
    www.zdevania.blogspot.com

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  3. What a great post, mental health problems are so misunderstood and sadly still carries a stigma. The more people that are able to talk about the experience to help educate people the better.

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  4. This is a great post. I started to become really anxious and constantly nervous and worried where I can't even walk into a room without someone else walking in ahead of me. This started happening just before Christmas, let's just say it's been a very tough year. I tend not to tell many people, as most think "oh, you'll be fine!" and never ask how you are. You're right, it's not something that will ever just go away. Taking things day by day is the best way for US to look at it, a fair few people will never understand x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm pretty vocal about my anxiety, especially with friends because god forbid there comes a moment when I'm out and I have a panic attack, the last thing I want is for them to be freaked out or worried. I think if you have people you can trust, you should confide in them. It's great because when I do go out and if I do start to feel a little on-edge, people understand why I want to leave a little bit early. I can mostly handle it for myself, but it's so hard when you're in a room with so many others, you know? It's kind of nice to have a few people you can trust.

      I hope you feel a little better, and if you ever want to chat — I'm all ears :) x

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  5. Whoa whoa whoa ... people actually say that shit to you? Wow. Talk about being judgemental and ignorant. The internet has made people really MEAN. They're basically sprouting bullshit whilst hiding behind their screen, where no one can see them and/or slap them. It makes me angry that we can't all just BE THERE for one another.

    We all of us have our own problems and insecurities (and illnesses), therefore, we should all be a bit (no, A LOT) more tolerant. And kind.

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    1. While I have gotten a decent amount of anon hate mail, I've also encountered this a lot with people ~irl~. A lot of times people don't like what they can't understand, so they talk down on it. It's so easy to brush it off with a little "oh there's nothing really wrong with you, just deal with it", especially if they don't know what it feels like. Then again, a lot of time it is just anonymous (or not) hate for no reason whatsoever!

      The one thing that really saddens me is people saying "well I have anxiety and I can't even leave the house. she goes out quite often so therefore she can't have anxiety." like, what!? firstly even if someone does go out often, you have no idea if she spends a huge percentage of the time at home. The thing about the internet is we're allowed to be selective in what we share; if we share that we go out to dinner and have fun with friends, people assume that's all we do. Who the hell wants to instagram laying in bed being upset and panic-ridden? Not me!

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  6. I've been surrounded all my life with people who have a variety of mental illnesses and I know the kind of shit people can say. It even goes beyond mental illnesses. I have a friend who has narcolepsy and she was in one severe accident because of it. Someone actually had to nerve to tell her that they thought she was FAKING it. She was faking it? Seriously? She purposefully fell asleep and got herself put in hospital for a week? Any kind of illness that's foreign to the majority is often dubbed as 'not important' or just ignored because so many people don't understand and worse, REFUSE to understand. I've heard people say that they think my friends are just making excuses to not come into school that day/to not go into work/to not sit that exam. It's unfortunate that there's always going to be a problem with these kinds of conditions simply because people favour ignorance over tolerance, and that's true for most issues these days. :(

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    Replies
    1. And also so many people that are quick to write it off as something you can switch on an off. Something that may not even exist. Sigh. It is such a shitty thing and what makes me crazy is like, who the hell would want to fake it? Anxiety/panic disorders are such a horrible thing to have to go through and although we all have our good days, the bad ones are just totally awful. I just hope that more and more people will come out and talk. That it will have less of a stigma attached to it; maybe none at all some day. There really isn't anything wrong with having a mental illness — it just means we feel a little differently, a little deeper, a little something.
      ps I love you! x

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  7. I've suffered from anxiety most of my teens and my adult life, and I have heard all of these before. Some people just can't fathom why someone would be anxious because they haven't experienced it themselves. I wish that empathy was more valued in our society.

    I was watching a lecture by Dr. Sapolsky on youtube the other day about depression. In the lecture, he argues that depression can be just as bad or worse than a disease like diabetes. I suggest you check it out! It's refreshing.

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    1. Yeah, exactly! I feel the same way — I'm almost too empathetic with people, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

      I will definitely check out the lecture. I'm totally into stuff like that. Thank you! xxx

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  8. This is such a good post, I have just recently started suffering from anxiety and it has really affected me in uni, its hard for the people around you to understand what your going through. I have recently noticed that there are actually a lot of people who go through this but its also good to make people aware of mental illness.

    Great Post!

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  9. wow, how ignorant of people to actually say things like that to you, or anyone with mental illness! It ticks me off so much when people just flick away these problems as if its nothing. I've seen so many people effected by mental illness, directly and indirectly, it just breaks my heart. I hope that you continue to be open because there are always people that care and want to listen :) just take a look at your blog readers :) It would be an absolute worry for me if you weren't open about these issues! I love reading your writing and looking at your pictures! xx

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