No matter how many people try to justify the fact that there is an increasing change in how society views mental health illnesses, the fact of the matter is, it seems that there is always going to be a stigma of some sort behind the term ‘mental health’. This is because there is a whole world inside of our mind and behind our eyes which nobody will ever experience but us. It’s catastrophically beautiful. So, what can we do to change this?
It’s easy to explain a broken leg. It makes sense. You go to the doctors, you have an X-ray and you are put into a cast whilst your broken bone heals. The cast is taken off and you can continue your life as normal. The difference with a mental health illness, is that it’s always there. It’s like having a constant broken leg but instead of having it put into a cast to heal, people come along and keep kicking the broken bone and shattering the bone further. What would happen after a while? Your leg would be destroyed and beyond fixing because it had gone through too much damage, right?
Now imagine this is your leg. That your bone is shattered and it’s beyond repair and there is no choice but to lose the leg. You tell somebody about this damage, and they tell you that you’re making it up. That it’s just an excuse and you’re attention seeking. What would you do? You would show them the X ray of the broken bone and all would be resolved.
With a mental health condition, it’s not that simple. It’s hard to physically show. People walk around every day lying about a potentially life threatening illness due to the fear of being judged. Why? Because the media has brainwashed us into believing that you are not normal if you don’t live a picture perfect life. We are led to believe that presentation is key. We are taught to present ourselves in a certain manner: our body, our opinions, our emotions. Every aspect of our lives is based on how it is presented to others. Because of this, there has been a barrier placed between reality and representation of reality and this has placed a massive pressure on this generation as a whole.
However, the statistics are that 1 in 4 of us will be diagnosed with a mental health condition. So when is the point as a society, we say enough is enough?
When is the point that we stand together as a team and support one another rather than judge one another?
When is the point that people get the confidence to discuss their illness without fear of not being believed?
The first step is to break the barrier and openly speak about it. You would openly speak about your broken leg. So actively speak about your mental health. You would say ‘my leg is hurting today’, so you can have the power to say ‘my anxiety is bad today, i need some quiet time’ or ‘I feel hopeless today, i need some motivation.’
If you have a mental health condition, stop suffering in silence. Be brave. Be bold. Be powerful and don’t allow people to belittle you. You have a voice and it needs to be heard. You can’t change the world alone, but together we can make a massive difference. The more that people discuss openly about how they feel, the easier it becomes to accept. Yes, it’s scary at first. But the first step needs to be made of opening up. Half of the people around you are feeling exactly the same way as you are.
Mental Health Conditions are real. Be the change in society. Your story matters. Fuck society and fight the stigma.