The fact that it took me over an hour to decide on the title of these written pieces, for fear of people being turned off by the first two words, shows you how far mental illness has to come. I wish, so much, that mental illness wasn’t associated with vulnerability, weakness, embarrassment and inadequacy. But even though I’ve known these associations aren’t true, for multiple years, it’s difficult to negate a habit. And that is what our associations are, stereotypical habits. Some of them aren’t nice, most of them aren’t based on truth or our own experiences, but they do exist.
Hoodies -> Aggression
Male Ballet -> Gay
Pink -> Girls
Blue -> Boys
Black Music -> Rap
White Music -> Country
Father -> Leader
Mother -> Rock
Mental Illness -> Weak/Crazy
I’m not saying each of these associations apply to everyone, or that everyone is constantly making assumptions about each other. But as this blog is all about honesty, I think it’s safe to assume (of all things) that every one of us has been guilty of making assumptions based on stereotypes before. And that’s fair enough, if you grow up and everyone you know, and everything you hear links certain things together, like pink with girls and blue with boys, naturally you will to, it’s the same as learning, similar to how we associate vague and mysterious.
Unfortunately, some of these associations are dangerous, they can lead you into some situations you aren’t prepared for. For example, what if, somehow, against all odds, you suddenly have a mental illness? Does this mean you are now weak, and crazy?
No, of course it doesn’t. Let’s compare to physical illness. If you have a broken leg, are you fragile? If you get a virus, are you weak?
No, your human.
But of course, that is not how it feels, and that is not how it felt for me. I grew up with the typical associations around mental illness: asylums, incapability, weakness, shame, fear, cowardice, rejection. None of these are true, but fear can do a lot to a person. And I was extremely scared of being associated with any of this. Left untreated, most illnesses grow, and so did mine. And so do most, people suffer in silence, afraid to speak up that there might be a problem, because of our expectations, our fears of what society may think of us.
However, I have found that the typical reaction to mental illness now is not one of complete rejection. In my experience people are now very understanding of mental illness, when they know it is there. But of course, the biggest hurdle is acquiring the strength to say it.
And that is what these blogs are all about, making people more aware of mental illness, and it’s surprising commonality. I’ve never encountered anything worse than mental illness, it’s horrible, but if it was treated and respected with a parity to physical illness, we’d all be a big step closer to leading happier lives.
So, I want to ask people to talk about their experiences with mental illness, and those suffering to seek help and guidance from the right places. How can I ask people to express these personal experiences if I don’t myself?
So, over the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing all of the details on my mental illness (OCD), broken down into different sections, as well as discussing the reputation of the topic as a whole, and solutions to different problems. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
(If you want to remain anonymous, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Disclaimer: The thoughts & opinions expressed in these posts are mine and mine alone, not representative of any institution I am part of.)