Mental Health Stigma
Over the past decade since I was diagnosed with a variety of mental health problems I have been quite aware of the stigma that surrounds mental illness and how it affects those dealing with a brain that has a couple of quirks. Thankfully it has been getting better but there is still a long way to go when it comes to the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
For a long time depression was considered to be a weakness and if you just pulled up your boot straps and changed your attitude than the depression symptoms would just go away. Of course anyone who has ever dealt with depression especially chemical depression realizes that the before mentioned statements are complete nonsense. If I had the best attitude in the world my brain either produces too much or not enough of certain chemicals that skew my view on the world and on myself. The antidepressants make it possible to get through each day and help silence the suicidal ideation that is so dangerous when you are suffering from this specific mental health issue. Suicide is still a leading cause of death in certain age groups and the problem lies where people do not feel comfortable in approaching a person in a white coat and asking for help due to the stigma that surrounds depression
It is hard to describe to someone who does not deal with anxiety twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week. When my anxiety hits the high level my heart is beating out of my chest and all I want to do is get out of the situation or avoid it all together. This makes leaving my home difficult as my brain is quickly focused on what could go wrong or what situation I can end up in and even though the odds are heavily in my favor that this will not happen it is still where my focus is. When it comes to anxiety it is another little pill that makes life easier but you can not take these pills as needed for soon you are dealing with an addiction on top of the anxiety that makes things so difficult. It is not easy trying to explain to the people in white coats how anxiety is ruining your life. People believe that you are just overreacting to a situation but it is so much deeper than that and I would do anything to avoid that rush of adrenaline that comes before an anxiety attack.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Stigma
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has gone by many names dating back to the first World War. From shell shock to battle fatigue to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder all may sound different but of course are all the same thing. Having a perfectly normal day that is suddenly interrupted by a flash back that sends you back to the worst moment of your life is not a pleasant experience. After the rate of suicides skyrocketed in the United States Military they finally started to fight this stigma from the inside telling their serviceman and women that it was okay to ask for help, decades after it was known the true power PTSD has over someones’ life. Thankfully as the stigma surrounding this particular mental health issue has gone down the variety of effective treatments has increased. Just wish they started this decades ago as it could have saved thousands of lives.
Borderline Personality Disorder Stigma
I saved the worst one for last as the stigma that surrounds this particular personality disorder is just brutal and it has not improved in years. A quick search on Google brings up topics such as the Borderline Personality Survival Guide or How To Survive A Borderline Personality Partner is just the tip of the iceberg about the misinformation that surrounds this personality disorder. I have now hit a point where when I meet a new doctor who asks about my mental health history I just mention depression and anxiety for the second I mention Borderline Personality Disorder everything begins to change. I have had trained mental health professions refuse to treat me because of this particular disorder and I have seen people jump to conclusions before they even attempt to take the time to get to know me.
Mental Health In The News
It seems every time there is a mass shooting the first thing they want to know is the mental health of the person who is responsible. You see different terms thrown around such as crazy or mentally unstable before they know anything about the person. Of course it is easy to figure out why they do this as it feels much safer that a person with mental health issues was responsible for the crime than your average guy next door. If this was true than we would have more mental health hospitals than prisons but we all know the truth about that. The second half of this is the sheer number of people who are dealing with mental health issues with the latest statistics saying that one out of four people will deal with a significant mental health issue during their lifetime. That is one quarter of the population out of which ninety-nine percent will never commit a violent act yet this is not how the news portrays it.
The stigma that surrounds mental health issues needs to go away if we ever want to reduce the suicide rate for good. The reality is that mental health stigma kills people every day and in this day and age where information is so easy to get regarding the inside of mental health disorders and how they affect people day to day. If people would just spend the time to educate themselves then they would be in a better position to lend a helping hand to those who are struggling instead of adding to the stigma that prevents some people from ever asking for help.