Have you ever told someone that the mental illness you are going through is just a “phase?”
Action Speak Louder Than Words
Words hurt more than anything. It pains me when someone says to me “you should just get over it, everyone else has to.” That is probably true at some level, but the truth is so much more profound– if I could go a day without mental illness, it would be a blessing. It would be so much easier to wake up one morning and not fear the day. Not worry that my anxiety may spiral at any moment. That this morning could be the morning that I want to end it all for no other reason than the wiring is all wrong in my head.
Today I read a sad story about a young boy just nine-years-old that was bullied to the point that he took his own life. How can we live in a world where words from bullying are so bad that someone so young could take his life? We should live in a world where everyone is welcome, and not judged by things like who we chose to be or love. Sadly, we do not live in such a world, but we can continue to fight to end this way of thinking.
It may just seem like words, but words can cut deep, and can have a lasting effect. Words can make mental illness seem impossible to live within this world.
So what can we do? We continue to give the voice to the people of the mental illness community. The shared experience that we that have lived in this world is what can make a significant difference. Maybe together we can end the stigma and let people know that suicide is not the answer. We can not continue as a society if we treat those of us with mental illnesses as second-class citizens and resort to bullying because we fail to fit what society believes we should act or feel. Mental illness is not a choice.
What Can We Do?
I have found sharing through experience, the entire experience– the good, the bad, and the ugly is the best way to combat the stigma. When we talk about our experiences, it helps those who will never know what it is like to live a day with a mental illness. We must educate those people with our amazing mental illness journey. No journey is simple and straightforward. Living each day with a mental illness and just surviving is a strength. Let us share that strength to teach.
At the same time, we must continue to educate ourselves by reading the stories of others in the mental illness community. When we are divided by our own differences, it makes it easier for people to say “just get over it.” The mental illness community is stronger as a whole.
Words matter. We can show how words can hurt us and make us want to disappear. We can also use words to our advantage when we share a common cause with those in this world that suffer from physical conditions. That can only strengthen our position because they know as well as anyone what suffering brings. Suffering is suffering, no matter physical or mental.
Let us Encourage Seeking Help!
Above all, we must encourage those that are suffering alone without help to seek help. There is nothing more important than seeking help, and it is the most stigmatized part of mental illness.
I can recount many times that people have frowned upon the thought of me seeing a therapist. They ask how someone could be open to telling a perfect stranger your most profound darkest thoughts? It helps to have someone to talk to that is trained to understand. It was not always so, but I am proud that I am willing to seek help from a therapist and a psychiatrist. There are those that find solace in group therapy. I have found some peace with my social anxiety with cognitive behavioral therapy. Productive things like meditation, drinking tea, and working out the body and mind were all things learned through seeking help.
Writing is a great way to share your experience. I never thought I would get to a point where I would be writing about my experiences here on my blog for the world to see. I have found strength as a mental health advocate, and I don’t see myself doing anything else. Seeking help is a sign that you are coming to terms that something is wrong in your life. There is nothing wrong with seeking help, and we must tell those that are resistant the truth– it could mean the difference between life and death.
Together we can end the stigma, end suicide, and educate the world. No longer do we have to hide our illness because we are scared of the stigma. Let us fight.
Always Keep Fighting