Fighting Against The Stigma of Mental Illness

Okay, so look. I don’t need to tell you that there is a stigma attached to mental illness. You have to be living under a rock if you aren’t aware of it. It’s all over the news wherever you turn.

A man walks into a shop and kills six people. He was known to the police as someone who suffered from a mental illness.

A young adult, male, jumps from a hotel window after battling bouts of depression. 

Another young person commits suicide after being bullied, diagnosed with anxiety disorder. 

Do you see a trend? 

I’m not saying that having a mental illness leads to acts of death or harming others. What I do know is that the stigma attached to mental illness makes it difficult for those suffering from various forms of depression, and anxiety along with other mental disorders to seek help. In fact, I spoke about the differences between depression and bipolar disorder recently (my own opinion) on Facebook this past month.  

My son came to me last week and told me that one of his teachers asked him what disabilities he has as it’s in his file at school so that he can learn to the best of his ability. He was open and honest about sharing the issues he has with his legs (mild cerebral palsy) and how he’s sensitive to things, although he’s getting better (sensory disorder). But it was the last thing he said that caught her attention when he told her that he also suffers from a mental illness. 

When his teacher asked why he thought that. He explained to her how he deals with anxiety and depression on an almost daily basis. The mood swings. The ups and downs. The overwhelming feelings of never being good enough. Feeling numb at times. Then over-feeling other times. And she had the gall to tell him that it’s not a big deal because everyone gets depressed and that he shouldn’t tell people he has a mental illness and put that label on himself for others to judge.

My son was five years old the first time he spoke about killing himself. Two years of counseling and therapy with Child Development, and at seven he got an early diagnosis of early onset bipolar and anxiety disorder. He’s eleven years old now. Non-medicated. Learning how to cope. 

Now I’m not going to call out this teacher by name. lf I do that, I have to meet her after school and bitch slap her to her face. But I am going to say how pissed off it makes me that the attitude she shared with my child was that in him being open and honest with his limitations and what he goes through, he’s going to be judged for it. 

Thank you Miss Teacher for proving to my son the world and the stigma against mental illness needs to change! (Extra bitch slap provided). 

I know my son will face judgments. I know he will face stigmas attached to the fact that he has a mental illness. It’s even harder for boys and men to deal with accepting mental illness as a diagnosis for themselves. But I’ve fought hard to teach my son that his mental illness doesn’t define him. It doesn’t change who he is deep inside. He decides how he acts and reacts around people. 

Having a mental illness is not a license to behave badly. 

What bothers me is the stigma this teacher already attached to my son. One society will soon follow. And it’s my job as his mother to make sure he ignores the stigmas so that he can achieve help if he needs it without feeling put down, judged, or ostracized by those around him. 

We live in a world filled with so much hardship. Crap we cannot control. Gangs and drugs. Violence out of our hands. Shortage of food, shelter and basic necessities. We live in a world filled with unacceptable behaviors. But we can change things. 

It starts by sharing and talking about mental illness without it being some kind of disease you can catch on the fly. If you know someone that suffers from a mental illness, be supportive. And share this post with your friends and family. Let’s get the word out that the fight against the stigma of mental illness needs to change. 

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2 Comments

    1. Well I guess she was trying to help him not label himself or put himself in a category, but I have since discussed it with her so I think she knows now that it’s important to speak about our hardships or disabilities or limitations. It makes us stronger not weaker in my mind to accept yourself on every level. Thanks for the comment Stephanie. <3

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