Looking back, I saw signs of Depression in myself as early as age seven.
As an adult, I can barely believe that statement myself.
Back then, they weren’t my worst depression symptoms, but they were definitely there.
It was right after my family moved. I was in the second grade. I had lost my whole world. We moved from a place where I was surrounded by friends daily to a place miles away from the next kid.
I was too young to understand exactly what was happening with me mentally. But as I grew up, I started to clue into the fact that Depression was a part of my life. I ended up spending numerous years struggling with my mental health alone.
One of the reasons I never reached out for help with Depression sooner is the stigma around mental health. I don’t remember Depression ever being talked about as a kid. And as an adult, it was mostly just the butt of a joke.
There are bad days. There will always be bad days. Life is a roller coaster, up and downs are expected. But mental health is more than just “bad days”. And it is definitely nothing to joke about.
Mental health stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is an illness. It is real. No matter who tells you otherwise.
As quoted in Psychology Today:
“[…] shockingly, of the 450 million people worldwide who suffer from mental health conditions, the majority (60 percent) do not receive any form of care, with 90 percent of people in developing countries receiving no form of care.”
Let’s not suffer alone. There is help out there. We just need to rise above the mental health stigma.
What is Mental Health Stigma?
When most people think of the “mentally ill” they jump right to the image of a straight jacket and asylums from Horror movies.
What most don’t understand is that there are a vast number of varying levels of mental health. And a list just as long of types of mental health illnesses.
Some Types of Mental Health conditions include:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Mood Disorders
The list is really almost endless. Why is that? Well, in my eyes everything in life flows from the mind. Inventions were first thought of and dreamed about. Your actions and habits are played out in your mind first. When people tell you
There are a couple types of mental health stigmas:
The straight jacket/asylum example I gave above is a great picture of the social stigma. Everyone is taught to be afraid of people who a different. Culture feeds us one side of the story showing that people with mental illness are all murderers and psychopaths.
The thoughts are also that mental illness is all brought on at fault of the person. People who say things like, “Well, they wouldn’t be depressed if you made better decisions in your life.” “If you would have gone to college, you wouldn’t feel like this.”
These are very ignorant things to say. I do agree that some life decisions make you more susceptible to mental illness, but that is not the root of it.
You are your own worst enemy. But you also have the power to be your one and only cheerleader. Which do you choose? The mental health self-stigma is when you start thinking down on yourself. When your self-esteem starts lowering and your hope in the future gets dimmer.
With the self-stigma, you start placing blame on yourself and start placing all the social stigmas on yourself. A lot of these issues are commonly thought of as weaknesses. Don’t get caught up in this lie.
How the Stigma Hurts People
Being a Christian seemed to come with its own set of stigmas. There always someone quick to judge others in a situation of need. We are all only human and we make mistakes. But please do not take someone reaching out for help lightly.
Telling someone that all they need to do is lean in closer to their faith is not as helpful as you might think. Not only will that people feel less of a believer, but now they feel as if they are not able to reach out for proper help.
No one knows at what stage a person might be in their Depression. There are far too many “functional” depressed people. Just like a Functional Drunk, no one on the outside is able to see the inner workings of the problems.
For years, I have hidden my depression and anxiety from the world. People closest to me had no idea the thoughts in my head. The feelings of needless agony. The all the lies that no one would be around to care if I just “disappeared” were buried deep under my spunky smiles.
I took a lot of “advice” in as people would talk around me never knowing that the issues they brought up happened to be the issues on my heart.
Take a step back and really think through the words that you are about to say. Could they be hurtful? Even if you assume the person they are “directed” at is not around. Words are the life and death of all things.
What you speak will surely come to pass. So talk kindly about yourself. Talk kindly about the people around you.
How can we Prevent the Mental Health Stigma?
- Talk about it
- Join a small group in church or your community
- Learn about it
- Don’t get down on yourself
- Try to track and understand your triggers – Keep a journal
- Listen to others when they reach out
- Reach out when you need help
- Be sensitive to what others are going through
- Work on little things every day, like your self-esteem
Are you suffering alone? You can always find ways to reach out for help. Take a look at all the options that Online-Therapy.com offers. You are even able to stay completely anonymous.
Start a Howl!