Every Day Is Mental Health Stigma Day

I was just sitting here, thinking how we are encouraged to get a physical every year. Keep yourself in good health, head off problems before they get out of control. The body is treated like the temple that must be coddled and yet…Our minds are treated like so much flotsam and jetsam.
For me, mind and body go hand in hand. If my mental health is bad but my physical health is good, I still consider myself ill. Perhaps I am wrong in feeling that way. I just honestly don’t understand why mental health is so stigmatized while society embraces physical health obsessively.

Examples of stigma I face on a daily basis:
My mother: “You don’t get to be depressed now, you have a daughter to take care of.”
My father “You don’t know depressed is, grow up.”
My sister: “I don’t get time to be depressed.”
My so called closest friend: “Why aren’t you smiling? Why are you so jumpy? What’s got you down? ME ME ME ME ME ME ME.”
Then, “Do you ever think of anything but your mental disorders?”

Hmmm.I was probably not thinking of them until reminded by everyone around me that I can’t escape them.
This is not supportive. This is like fat shaming, only for the unwell mind.

There’s such a distinctive set of rules for physical illness over mental illness.
You break your leg, no one expects you to run a marathon until you are healed.
You have surgery and are feeling bad, people bring you flowers or get well cards.
You find out you have a chronic disease, the hugs and hand holding are automatic.

BUT if your pain is in your mind…
You’re pretty much on your own.
I don’t know how many times it’d have been so helpful just to have someone pat my shoulder or give me a hug. Instead, I get nagged at for not smiling, for not being “normal’, for not trying hard enough, for being lazy.
All of which is counterproductive because these feelings are bundled with the mental illness, they don’t need amplified.
It’s like rubbing bacteria in an open wound and going, “Why did the infection spread?”

At this juncture in time, I am dealing with R and his three day streak of nothing going right. He’s depressed. He’s pissed off. So he can throw things, yell, curse, be rude to customers…And it’s ok, he’s frustrated.
But if I am these things because my mind is not working properly…I’m just bitchy and crazy and not even legitimately tin foil hat wearing crazy. The “irrational hormonal whiny bitch” crazy.
How is that even logical?
This is the mentality I am surrounded by.
I do not like kids who don’t play fair on the playground.
And no matter how old I get, I realize none of us ever really stop being children. From a petulant pout to blaming something on someone else to avoid our own culpability…We are children in adult bodies.
Because no amount of social conditioning and no age will erase our fundamental genetic code. We start out as helpless little ferals and it’s not until year upon year of social conditioning any of us truly “morph” into some semblance of adulthood.
That’s depressing because it means most of those around me will never have the intellectual capacity nor humanity to grasp that mental illness is as legitimate as physical illness.
Sad statement about the human race.
I am always hoping one of them will prove me wrong. I have never wanted to be wrong about something more in my life. I want to think people can evolve, grow, change, become more empathetic. Learn.

Society on a whole just does not seem capable of this as far as mental health is concerned.
Have things improved since the days of lobotomies and squalid asylums? Yes, absolutely.
Depression has had a spotlight on it since the invasion of Prozac. Kind of like the Beatles invasion. (Ugh, take that one back.)
But with that came a plethora of people who are sad for a few weeks, get a script, and boom they’re better after a few months.
That’s a disservice to those of us who struggle for years.
It’s a catch 22 though. With the advent of Prozac nation, more people stepped forward to get help for their mental issues.
Unfortunately, so did a lot of people who likely weren’t clinically depressed and thus society thinks of psych meds as “happy pills” that cure mental illness. So if you’re not cured, it’s your own fault.
I used to sarcastically call my meds my happy pills. Until I had a rough day and someone snarked, “Did we forget to take our happy pills today?”
Offensive.
Did we forget to take our anti douchebag pills today?

I know I have a lot of complaints.
Do I have any answers?
I wish I did.
But one thing the blogosphere has taught me is that…More and more of us with mental health issues are stepping up and talking about it, rather than hiding in the dark like we have something to be ashamed of.
It’s a start.
And that’s a good thing.

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2 Responses to “Every Day Is Mental Health Stigma Day”

  1. Good point! Something I myself find,,, I don’t speak out about my mental illness if I’m out with (my sister & her friends) etc. I’m afraid bringing up the subject, even if I’m not sad at the time, some people don’t want to be around me,,, almost like they don’t know what to say/how to act

    • They don’t know how to respond and I am fine with that. It’s difficult even for me to know how to process it all times. I told The Donor exactly how to deal with my moods. If I say “I’m fine, I just need to ride this out” it’s not some female mind game. It’s just factual. Of course, he made it all about him, studying my every expression, whining, “What did I do to piss you off now?” Because mental illness is all about the people around you. Hell, I could have been thinking of a dead pet at the time and it made me look sad or mad. It’s okay to not know what to say as long as they’re interested enough to want to learn. But when you tell someone exactly what you need and they do the opposite…I think my wrath was earned there. You could always try to casually bring it up. “I’ve been having a really hard time lately, so if you notice I’m not acting like myself..Ask me about what’s going on and I’ll try to explain it so you know.” It never hurts to try even if some people can’t grasp it.

      On Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 9:11 AM, Take a Ride on My Mood Swing wrote:

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