Question: What words come to mind when you think of someone suffering with mental health problems?
“Nutter, crazy, insane, psycho, fruit loop, suicidal, dramatic, touched, unhinged, lazy, weird, odd, sad, aggressive, weak…”
I will never forget that.
Picture me sat in this class, having already battled with anxiety and depression for 7 years and still developing my self confidence.
I studied Media at school in sixth form and one of our projects was to produce material for our local Mind service. We aimed to reduce stigma for mental health problems and raise awareness within the school and local community.
We were 16/17 years old at the time and were yet to learn. We could not have been more wrong.
Because of this, I know just how easy it is to reel off these terms and contribute to the stigma.
Whilst I know that these words were not used with intention to offend, and they do not necessarily offend me, we need to change this attitude.
As previously spoken about in my last post, one of the biggest reasons that people do not speak out about their mental illness is that they are afraid of being given one of those labels. They are worried that if they tell someone, they might be deemed ‘crazy’.
THIS IS NOT TRUE.
Just because I suffer from depression, does that mean I’m ‘crazy’? Does that mean I am a ‘psycho’? no.
Just because I suffer with anxiety and panic attacks, does that make me a ‘nut job’? Does that make me ‘weak’? no.
Just because I have an obsession with funky socks and sausage dogs, does that make me a ‘Fruit loop’? okay, well maybe a little…
But, I am a person. We are people. We are the same.
I actually think that having suffered with anxiety and depression has helped to shape me as a person. It has made me more mindful of other people and their situations. It has been the reason I have met some of my best friends and It’s the reason I’m so passionate about mental health and the reason I am here now.
Writing this blog has bought together so many people already. I have received heaps of messages from people and I have heard some truly inspirational stories.
What I don’t think people realise about mental health, is that it affects everyone. It doesn’t target a certain type of person. It can affect any occupation, any gender, any race, any age, any background… Anyone.
It is not acceptable for these terms to be thrown about making people too afraid to talk about what they are going through.
People should not have to cower away in fear of being judged or treated differently.
Having a mental health condition is like fighting a war in your own mind, every moment of every day. It can’t be switched off. It’s a medical condition and needs the care and attention that every other medical condition gets unconditionally.
Why should I and my mental health be treated any differently?
I am not ashamed.
I will do what it takes to make that difference and to beat this stigma.
Stay with me here.