Have you ever been feeling sad, and someone tells you to get over it? Have you ever been anxious, and someone tells you to just stop worrying? Have you ever been labelled depressed, bipolar, psycho? Have you ever been told your emotions were a phase? That if you tried harder, it would improve?
It is alarming that if I woke up tomorrow with a disease of the mind, I may be treated differently by those around me, that my employment opportunities may diminish or that I could find it particularly difficult to find affordable and efficient treatment; but if I woke up tomorrow with a disease of the body, I would be surrounded by love and support, with positive attitudes directed toward my recovery and hopes I would be able to live a full and happy life despite my diagnosis.
This is the reality mental illness sufferers go through. This is the stigma associated with mental health. Mental illness has been hard to comprehend for our world, seen by some as something the sufferer can control, something that is self-inflicted, something that is the sufferers’ fault.
What is Stigma? Defined as “a mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval which results in an individual being rejected, discriminated against, and excluded from participating in a number of different areas of society”by the World Health Organisation, stigma simply marks an individual as different in a negative way.
A good example of this was when I was kicked out of a shared accommodation house simply because I opened up and told one of the ladies I had schizophrenia. I did nothing wrong and we all got along fine for the two weeks I was there but their attitude changed when I told them of my diagnosis. I learnt a lesson. I very rarely tell people the illness I go through.