End the Stigma

Hey everyone! I was going to write a completely different post this week but I decided to postpone that one to talk about something I am extremely passionate about–mental health awareness. Today is World Mental Health Day and this week is Mental Health Awareness Week so I felt that it was more than appropriate to write this post now.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Although I was diagnosed with both around ten years old, I have actually been living with them since I was much younger. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to navigate through my giant obstacle course of a world. Having to live with one mental illness, let alone two, is challenging enough, but once you add in the stigma associated with it, it’s much worse.

About one in five people suffer from some sort of mental illness, however, the actual number is projected much higher. That’s because so many people don’t seek treatment for mental illness. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as religious beliefs, but it’s mainly due to the stigma attached to mental illness. People feel like they will get ostracized if they admit they have a mental illness; the fear of being labeled as “psycho” or “insane” by ignorant people force them to suffer in silence. My mother has lived with depression for most of her life, though she only started to get treated for it in her early thirties. My grandparents turned a blind eye on her condition, as it was not an “acceptable” illness during my mother’s childhood. Thankfully, my mother eventually got the help she needed and was able to recognize when it was time to get me therapy too. Society has come a long way since the days when those with mental illness were hidden away in asylums, but we still have quite a way to go.

The thing with mental illness is that there is no “one size fits all” approach to it. Everyone is different and everyone responds differently to treatment. Even if you suffer from a similar illness as someone else, it can be difficult to truly understand what those person’s challenges are. For example, my mother can’t understand why I have obsessive behaviors, despite me explaining my OCD to her a million times and her having her own struggles with mental illness. I used to get really frustrated when people couldn’t understand my feelings or what I was going through; I felt so unbelievably alone and it was terrifying. Mental illness is not just something you can turn off or snap out of. As I’ve gotten older, I have grown to understand that it’s not going away and that I need to do the best I can for myself each and every day.

My hope is that people take the time, not just today or this week but anytime, to educate themselves about mental illness. So many times, it is painted in a bad light when the reality is that people just don’t know the complexities of mental health.

As always, thank you so much for reading! Be sure to follow my blog for more posts like this (and some that are more lighthearted too) and my social media accounts by clicking the links below!

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