A Conversation About the Mental Illness Stigma
I wanted to open this blog post with this, the stigma surrounding mental illness is real. I see it every day. It is all over the daily news. “This person did this horrible act because he/she was mentally ill.” While this is true in some of the cases, mental illness is not an answer to a question. It is an uncontrollable imbalance in our minds. Those of us who live each day, often hiding behind our disease, it can be hard to have peace because we fear what people would say.
When people say, “Why don’t you get over it. Everyone deals with anxiety and depression every day.” It hurts more than you know.
To some this dialogue is true. Millions in this world suffer from temporary depression or anxiety. The problem, millions more deal with depression and anxiety every day. When people say “get over it” it stems from a dialogue that becomes every day speak. It trivializes the entire mental health community when people say in a glorification manor, “Oh, I am feeling Bipolar today.”
I don’t know about you, but I have never told people I am feeling Bipolar when I am in the worst parts of my illness. When someone says, “I am Bipolar” but uses it in a general sense, it continues to trivialize. It takes away from the people who struggle with the extreme nature of Bipolar Disorder. It changes the narrative in a wrong way. Then when someone is Bipolar and fighting, they become fearful of saying they are Bipolar. The fear and backlash from people who have normalized the disease.
Not in a million years would I chose to be Bipolar. It sucks. I live every day of my life with a truth no one should live this life. I am one lousy depression cycle away from going down the darkest of paths— suicide. No matter how well I am doing at this moment, until the day I leave this world, suicide will always be a possibility in my life. I live with crippling severe anxiety and insomnia that makes life not worth living— and yet I try and find ways to continue to fight. I tell myself daily “Always Keep Fighting.”
Ending the Stigma Through Education
That is why I am writing my memoir. Sharing my experience is one part of the equation. The other half— is to inspire more people to share their own story. I connect with so many people on a daily basis that tell me they are happy to have at least one person who understands. That it is “so much easier to hide behind the stigma than to face people saying get over it.” I have shared my fellow mental health bloggers many times because it helps show the real side of the many facets of mental illness.
Trust me. If I could “get over it” in an instant, then I would.
I envision a world where the mental illness community is this open place where we talk about real life. Mental illness and the stigma can only end with dialogue, empathy in the community, and understanding. We as a community are the most significant voices. I understand, so many of us have a hard time sharing our real lives with those closest to us. It’s easier to be here and talking, but I have found that the most significant thing I give people that love me, is education.
I recently completed a Diversity class for my degree, and in that class, my project focused on mental health stigma related to college minorities. My idea was particular to the project— mental health literacy. In a real-world scenario, I would start with classes for middle school students that focus on identifying mental illness and at the same time explore the connections with Bullying and Mental Health.
I think most roads start with real mental health literacy. As a society mental illness is ever increasing issue that most of the time is swept under the rug. Part of the problem is that many of us in the struggle don’t want to be on the outside of society. So we hide behind the stigma, which only makes things more difficult not only in our own lives but also for those just beginning their journey. So I wanted to share this part of me.
I write under a pseudonym because it is easier for me to share my story. Even as good and open as I am, I never thought I could write under my real name. I am part of the problem. So I thought why not tell the truth.
My name is David. I am Bipolar. I write under my pen name because it’s easier, but I will no longer hide behind it. I am David. I am James Edgar Skye. I am The Bipolar Writer.
If at this moment all you can do is write under a pseudonym than I understand. If you can do more, that is good. I am no longer going to hide behind J.E. Skye because that name is a part of me. It is me, but my real name is just as important.
I believe the stigma can end. The mental illness community has a real shot at making real noise.
Always Keep Fighting.
Please Help me Publish my Memoir
I have finished the first draft of my memoir “The Bipolar Writer,” and I have decided to go down the self-publishing route. If you can donate anything towards my goal, it would mean the world to me. Those that give will get a special mention in my memoir on a page dedicated to those that made my memoir possible. Thank you in advance!