Most of you probably already know, that advocating for mental health is something that is extremely close to my heart. I feel like this is often overlooked, stigmatized, used as adjectives, as well as romanticized. One of my main goals – aka why I started this blog in the first place – is to help break the stigma, raise awareness for mental health, and hopefully help anyone struggling with anxiety or depression.
My goal with this post isn’t to judge anyone – instead, I hope that it can give some insight on what it really is, and maybe, even hopefully helping someone on their journey to wellness, whatever it may be for them.
Note: I am not a mental health professional – I’m just sharing my beliefs and thoughts
Before I begin this, I will be mentioning about some of the events that has been circling around the media. Reader discretion may be advised.
This past week has been really hard for me: hearing about the deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade, as well as celebrity cook Anthony Bourdain. What I find so heart-breaking is that even though her sister claimed that Spade has had depression for awhile, she did not want to receive treatment because she thought that it may tarnish her designs, which are colourful and happy.
There are a lot of misconceptions about mental health/illness. Some may think that it’s “crazy”, it’s not a real illness, it’s “just an excuse for being lazy”… the list just goes on an on.
Society nowadays like to stigmatize a lot of things – not only just mental illness. To me, I feel like the only way to break the stigma of, really anything, is education. Knowing the facts and separating them from the myths is crucial.
I feel like one of the main things that especially stand out from the outcome of stigma is the shame that the actual people suffering with mental illnesses have. If you never have battled mental illness or have experienced what it is like when a loved on suffers from it, it’s so so so hard to really understand what it really is.
It’s quite interesting: our brain, that is. Sometimes when I have a discussion with my inner potato, I think about how one of the most common things someone says when they are stigmatizing mental illness, is that “it’s all in your head, get over it”
Would that same person say it to a person that is suffering from a physical illness? Really; if this was the other way around, and physical illnesses were stigmatized and some were told “it’s all in your body, get over it”, would that make sense? No. Of course not.
According to recent research, 1/2 Canadians will experience some sort of cancer diagnosis within their life time, and 1/3 will struggle with a form of mental illness. Now, isn’t that pretty close, numerical wise?
I’d like to acknowledge that your “head” is also a part of your “body”? And the “brain” is also an “organ”? One of the organs you need to survive??
Since I am a growing potato, the way I process my thoughts are always changing. Before, I may be so insistent on this and is unwilling to listen to another point of view
I’m still stubborn tho btw. Now, I often have debates with myself (refer to inner potato), and try to look at an event/subject with different perspectives, even if I know that one is absolutely correct.
This comes into contact with mental health/illness stereotypes. Many, I’m sure, before they had experienced mental illnesses themselves or someone close to them, they would have the stigma present in their beliefs.
The stigma is present because there is a lack of proper education regarding mental health, and how important it really is. If a person has never dealt with any of the situations above, then if anyone tried to tell them that the myths aren’t true, their reactions may include “ridiculous”… or “that doesn’t even make sense”.
I feel like another contributing factor to the stigma includes that you can’t actually “see” the illness. If it was a physical illness, many symptoms may show outside, but for mental illness, you can’t see it inside your brain from the outside.
Because that the fact that you can’t “see” the illness, and it’s not x-ray-able (gosh did I just make up another word), some my doubt if it’s even real.
There’s a lot of stigma that revolves around mental illnesses that are still present, but it’s getting better by each generation and year. There are more and more proper education, and I feel like it’s the key to unlocking the door to acceptance and compassion.
I believe that fear is the obstacle of many things in life. And I have to say, that before I got proper education and understanding of mental health/illness, it was just really that insignificant to me. Now, I know how important our mental health is, and that we should cherish and celebrate it as much as our own physical health.
Your illness – mental or physical illness – does not define you. Your disabilities don’t define you.
There is no shame in having a mental illness. You are not your illness. You are not your diagnosis.
Reaching out for support is also another thing not to be ashamed of – in fact, it will change your life forever. There is always help. You do not have to go through it alone. Things may look hopeless or weary at times, and one may wonder if things will get any better, but I’m telling you this: it will pass.
If you are/was struggling with mental illness: damn girl, are you a warrior. It’s so hard being at war with yourself every single day. You are so so brave. There will be times when you just feel like you’re at your lowest point, and that’s totally okay. Don’t try to ignore your emotions and your well being. Instead, acknowledge them.
Your brain is another organ. Just like your heart, lungs, and liver. Our bodies are not perfect – it will have its ups and downs. Don’t ever feel ashamed if you need a counselor, therapist, psychiatrist… etc. There are so many doctors who specialize in different parts of our bodies, and yes, our brain is also a part of it too.
Don’t give up on yourself: life is such a precious, amazing thing, and whatever you may be struggling with right now – it’s only temporary. Things will be better sooner or later. But it will happen. Trust me.
It’s okay to feel what you are feeling, whatever that may be.
You are not alone.
how do you feel about the stigma? what do you think we can do to break it? your thoughts on the meaning of life? has this post changed or helped you in any way? let’s spread the love 🙂