As I’ve got older, I’ve become more open about my mental illness. I’ll chat to my friends and family about my possible diagnoses, my triggers and some of my trauma, and even about my dark moments to some of them.I’ll also share some things on my own blog, as well as sharing informative posts to my Instagram story or Facebook profile.
I’ve learnt that it’s important for others to know that they’re not alone, and that I’ll be someone they can relate to and/or chat to if they feel like it. I’m also more open because it’s a way of expressing my emotions, struggles, and therefore helping others to understand more… without an awkward conversation. It’s also become important to me to take on mental health stigma.
This current month has been an absolute rollercoaster for me, for a few reasons. From the dark and gloomy nights to my hate for the cold, to lots of personal challenges within my own issues as well as my family’s.Most days, my thoughts feel like an angry wasp’s nest; complete chaos and drowning. But it’s something that I’ve kept to myself. Not because I’m afraid of the stigma, but because sometimes I just can’t be fucking bothered with it.
Sometimes I don’t talk about my issues and can’t be truly open because in the past I’ve been accused of ‘making it up’, told that 'I’m too negative’ or even that ‘its something everyone goes through, you’ll grow out of it’. 12 years of therapy with a number of professionals later, I still haven’t ‘got over it’, Karen. Stigma has shaped mental health into many different things, and this makes it much more difficult to explain to those who can’t relate or who are uneducated. Stigma has caused people to feel ashamed of themselves, stopped people from seeking help, prevented them from trusting their friends with secrets, or made them feel like a huge burden.
Mental health, like physical health, exists on an ever changing spectrum. It is something that can affect everyone, and anyone.Something that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children experience a year and is evenmore likely that you’ll know someone with it. Mental health can be isolating, and I don’t want anyone to feel that way.
How can you help fight mental health stigma?
· Talk about mental health
· Don’t use mental health as adjectives
· Educate yourself and others
· Empower your illness
· Tell people they’re stigmatising
· Don’t assume
· Offer support