It’s evident in society there is a huge stigma around having a mental health problem, and that can almost certainly be blamed on the simple fact that people are uneducated.
If I have a broken leg or a cold or some other more palpable condition, the outpouring of sympathies and well wishes amongst the groups I circulate in would be abundant. Now I am not by any means saying that I don’t have a network of support in my life for my mental health problems, because I most certainly do and I am forever grateful for that.
My point is, generally people don’t get it. Depression is often seen as a weakness and in actual fact it’s anything but, do you know how hard it is to act okay when internally everything is falling apart? It takes a huge amount of strength to put that barrier up.
People call me brave because I am open about my mental illness. They tell me I am courageous. I’m not. I am simply a human that happens to have a bit of a dodgy noggin’ – not the most eloquent of descriptions, I know!
There lies half the problem, it shouldn’t be considered brave or courageous to say it. I am not ashamed of my mental illness, but I used to be. I hid it for so many years. Too many years.
Did you know that it’s estimated 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. ONE in FOUR – think about that. Potentially from 100 people in your life you can stick a big red flag of ‘mental illness’ over a quarter of them. If you don’t think you know anyone that has or had a mental health issue, you are probably very much mistaken, sadly.
Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and it could be you one day. Never in a million years did I think that this is where my life would be as I near my 30th birthday. I was supposed to be married, with children living in our little home. Not stuck in a rut, emotionally unstable and alone 99% of the time – looking forward to the postman knocking on the door so I can get a minute of human interaction from another adult.
The mental illness lottery isn’t one anyone wants to play, but odds are you’re going to know someone who was unlucky enough to have their numbers come up. Don’t be the person they would rather not encounter when it happens. It really isn’t hard to research mental illness, to find out some statistics or even just find out a little bit about some mental health problems. I am not expecting you to become an expert, but a little bit of extra knowledge is never a bad thing. It takes about 5 seconds to type ‘mental health statistics’ into a search engine and ping the world is your little oyster of knowledge, way more precious than any pearl.