Mental Health Blog Party Day: Stigma and Stereotypes

16th May 2012 is Mental Health Blog Party Day. Bloggers worldwide will be bringing awareness to mental health issues. Today, I’ll be writing about how mental illnesses shouldn’t be a stigma.

 

Just because someone has a mental illness – be it depression, bi-polar, ADD, schizophrenia, OCD, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, anxiety… – does not mean that that person is crazy. It is a mental illness, just like the common cold or a flu, except that, unlike colds and flus, mental illnesses affect the person mentally and sometimes even physically as well, whereas colds and flus only affect the person physically (e.g. self harm, starvation). 

There is nothing wrong with having mental illnesses, even if the illness never goes away. Mental illnesses are more often than not life-threatening, especially if the person never recovers. Yes, like cancer or diabetes, sometimes the person has to live with the illness for the rest of his life, and sometimes the illness may return, just like that. 

The people who have these mental illnesses are usually on medication, and there isn’t anything wrong with that either. It is like someone with a fever taking paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen, panadol, aspirin). Having to take medication isn’t something to be ashamed of, and it does not mean that the person is weak. 

I have Major Depressive Disorder, minor anxiety, dissociation and Bi-Polar II. That does not mean that I am crazy – I am just a little different from the rest of you. 

 

This brings me to another topic I would like to address – stereotypes. 

I am sick of people stereotyping those with mental illnesses. Society stereotypes those with depression as ’emo’, cutters as ‘attention seeking’, suicidal people as ‘weak’, people with schizophrenia as ‘crazy’… 

People with depression do not sit in a corner all day, updating their facebook with ’emo’ statuses. Cutters do not shove their scarred wrists into people’s faces. Suicidal people do not go around yellling “I’m going to kill myself!”. All these people desperately want to recover, but how can they when they are being ostracized by those around them? 

Another misconception about those with mental illnesses if that you can just ‘snap out of it’. If it were that easy, nobody would have mental illnesses. Who in the world would want to have an illness that will affect them adversely for the rest of their lives? Employers don’t want to hire the mentally ill and people judge you when they find out that you’ve a mental illness.  

 

The reason why people with mental illnesses do not seek help is because of the childish and close-minded society’s judgmental mentality. Rid yourself of that mentality so that the people who desperately need aid will not be afraid to seek it and they will be treated early. The chances of recovering are much higher if the patient is treated early, and the patient will not have to be in so much emotional and psychological pain for long.

—other reads— 
Schizophrenia Myths 
Self Harm: Beyond The Myths 
Five Myths About Depression
Coping with the stigma of depression

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