As today is World Mental Health Day, I thought I would take the opportunity to write about a topic that I have been wanting to get out there for quite a while. Over the past few years, the stigma related to mental health issues has slowly been decreasing as awareness of such issues have increased, this is not to say that the stigma isn’t still excessively present in our day to day lives or that it isn’t a huge problem for those suffering. This is something surprising to me as one in four people suffer of a mental health issue in one form or another, so why do we feel it is something to be ashamed of?
As a student I have realised how many of my classmates are suffering from anxiety disorders, panic attacks, bouts of depression and in some more severe cases of bipolar disorder. The effects of these problems are bad enough, but what makes it worse without a doubt is how we are made to feel that it is just in our heads.
Many a time I have found myself unable to get out of bed and socialise, feeling numb, empty and glued to my room. Having to explain this to a teacher who is expecting 75% attendance from you or to a friend who thinks you’re just being lazy or unsociable is one of the most frustrating parts of it, this is why myself and many others resort to telling people we are sick physically or make up any other excuse before telling them what’s really going on. I have also met many who believe mental illnesses are a way to seek attention, this is ironic as there is nothing a mentally ill person wants less than to “flaunt” their illness. A close friend of mine suffered from deep chronic depression and bipolar disease, accompanied by anxiety, none of her friends, including myself knew for months until she attempted to commit suicide, does this really sound like someone who is trying to seek attention?
Those who don’t believe in mental illnesses because they are not physical, need to understand how physically debilitating these can be, that things they don’t even think about, those with social anxiety are repeating in their heads over and over again. That unanswered text keeps them wondering for months what they did wrong instead of what the other did wrong, that strange handshake-hug combination that they gave their crush creeps up at night when they just want to relax, they hold onto words as if it was their last breath and mundane activities such as ordering a sandwich can feel like a huge task.
Those who suffer from depression have to put on a smile everyday even when physically standing is a chore in itself and self blame is a constant feeling that eats them up. Those who have ADHD are expected to produce the same results as someone without, and if not they are deemed stupid.
There are so many other mental illnesses that affect the way a person can function on a daily basis, yet there is so much pressure for them to function “normally” because if its not physical, it isn’t real.
We are in an age where we are technology reliant, anxiety riddled and patience is far from a virtue we all share, mental illnesses are becoming more and more common, especially within the younger generations, affecting their way of socialising and education. It’s time we stop treating mental illnesses as something negative and help those in need, whether it be ourselves, a friend or a family member. It is hard enough to deal with this alone, but to feel like you can’t talk about it makes the matter a lot worse, if you are suffering then reach out to someone, you will be surprised how understanding people can be and you never know who might be going through the same.
Below I will leave some helpful links for those who might need it, I will also recommend a book that can help you understand more about your condition: