I’ve wrote on this day the last couple years and every year I look back at what I wrote and realize I’ve learned more about mental illnesses in that time but I want to reiterate some of what I have said because it is important and does apply, but with some tweaking.
Mental illness doesn’t affect a specific type of person. It can affect anyone. Anyone can suffer from it. And it SUCKS.
The stigma around it makes people feel they need to suffer in silence. The stigma causes fear and embarrassment for getting help. Fear no one will believe them. Fear no one will care. Embarrassed to be looked at as weak. Looked at differently. Like a sub-species.
Sometimes, those who aren’t suffering from mental illness don’t understand it or what to do to help, so they just avoid it. Or pretend they don’t notice signs.
This just enforces the stigma and the vicious circle of ridiculousness it encompasses.
Want to support someone suffering from a mental illness? Just be there. Don’t ask them about it. If they want to talk about it, they will. Making them talk about it will just further drive them into the hole they’re in and further away from getting help.
Just. Be. There. For. Them.
If someone confides in you about their mental illness, and you do want to help, don’t guess. Ask them. Ask them what you can do to help. If they even want your help. Sometimes all they need is a listening ear. Some silent company. Whatever it is, having them tell you is better than you guessing and forcing what you think would be helpful, which can be more harmful than helpful. This goes for discussing their mental illness(es) in general. Wait for them to start the conversation. Wait for them to come to you and reassure them it is safe to talk to you about their mental health.
For those suffering from mental illness, it can be very hard to seek help. Climbing Mount Everest with one arm and no legs hard. If someone has confided in you about their mental illness that is already a HUGE step for them. It can take years before they seek help. It took me years and I still have problems acknowledging my mental illnesses, let alone getting treatment for them.
It’s not always because they don’t know where to find it. But because the stigma also includes “getting help” = “I am weak” and an ego develops around it. “I should be able to deal with this myself.” (this was me for a LONG time)
Sometimes you just can’t.
Getting help doesn’t mean that you’re admitting defeat to the mental illness. It just means you need reinforcements to help bring it down. Strength in numbers.
And if you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who will listen and be there for you no matter what, hold onto them.
I know it’s difficult because you’ll want to push them away because you feel like your mental illness is a burden on them and/or that they see you differently, but fight with all your might not to. Please.
Sometimes, they can make all the difference.
All of this is WAY easier said than done, I know. But it’s not impossible, even though it feels that way a lot of the time.
It won’t ever go away completely. But it can get better. It has to get worse before it gets better. But it can get better. Please don’t be afraid. There are people out there that won’t judge or fear you for your mental illness. There are resources available to help.
The whole judging people with mental illnesses as weak and different is so silly. They are sick not weak. It is a mental ILLNESS.
Stop the stigma.