Stigma

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Why is there such a stigma attached with suicide and mental illness? If we have a heart problem, broken bones, or diabetes, we see a doctor to get help. So why aren’t more people with mental illness and suicidal thoughts getting help?

There is so much judgement in this world today. For me, society judges moms harshly. Am I doing enough? Is my house clean? Are my kids dressed perfectly? Are my kids behaving perfectly? Absolutely not! And that is ok. We aren’t meant to be perfect. So when someone is suffering from a mental illness, they should feel free to get help. Not feel shame or unworthiness.

We, as a society, need to be more understanding of things that we ourselves may not even understand. Take homeless people for instance. Do some of you just roll your eyes, when passing by a homeless person asking for money? Do you think that they did this to themselves? These are all harsh judgments. Have I done this before? Yes! I think we all have. But I think if we start to look at situations differently and show compassion and kindness, our world might just be a little better. Maybe the homeless person you passed by has suffered from mental illness and experimented with drugs because they felt hopeless. I am not saying that it’s right to turn down that path, but it’s not right to judge someone that chose to go down a different path than we would. Maybe this person doesn’t have access to doctors or counselors. We don’t know anyone’s situations. I heard a quote once that says, ‘Be nice to everyone you meet, for they are fighting a battle you know nothing about.’ That is so true! I try my hardest to be nice to everyone. I truly care for people and want to help.

I myself have my own battles that I struggle with. I have struggled with depression and anxiety my whole life. Here’s where I will get a little personal. In high school, I had experienced some traumatic events. I used to cut myself. I was not happy with my life. I felt like no one cared about me. I thought no one would care if something happened to me. I went to a counselor. A psychiatrist diagnosed me as having  mild bipolar disorder. I was put on medication at 16 years old. I believe that’s the point where I decided I needed a change. I started going to church, and I really think that’s what saved me. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, and I haven’t had any bipolar episodes since high school, but I know where to get help and what I can do to relieve it. I also know that I am not ‘crazy’, as our society refers to mental illnesses and disorders.

So when it comes to suicide and mental illness, we need to stop the stigma. We need to open our ears and listen. Talk to people about suicide and mental health. I am not ashamed whatsoever that my dad took his life. He did the best he could in his life. He tried so hard for months to get help with his physical symptoms. Here’s some really important advice: BE HONEST about your health and your feelings. My family and I definitely knew my dad was suffering, he told us with every conversation that we had. But he was never really honest about his mental health. We didn’t know how bad he was suffering mentally. He never came out and said he was depressed, hopeless, and alone. What if he talked about it more? What if it was a normal thing to go see a counselor once a week to talk, just like it is to go to a chiropractor or checkups with the doctor? Maybe my dad would still be here. There are always people that will say ‘just buck up, you are fine.’ That is a horrible mentality to have. Some people will feel like they don’t need to see a counselor, that that’s for sissy’s. Why does our society feel that way? Why can’t we show emotion without feeling shameful for it?

Compassion. Kindness. Service. These three traits will help us to become better people, and will help us to positively contribute to our families, friends, our towns, and our society.

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