Some 60 years later, people with mental illness are still overcoming the stigma that their physiological condition is more than a character flaw. It’s absurd to expect patients to overcome diabetes or heart disease by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, and yet the vast majority of the 450 million people affected by mental disorders are not receiving treatment due to stigma, discrimination or neglect.
How can we, who claim to live in a civilized society, claim to be the most modern form of human life, when we here in the Western world have swept mental health under the rug? It isn’t just in America, or Australia or the UK; it’s around the world where this has happened. For so many reasons we can point to, we can’t identify any of them to be valid. So there’s no point in shaking your head and denying that mental health issues have been swept underneath the rug by general society. Why this has happened is cause for alarm and the urgent need to understand, so it never happens again. It’s never too late to lift the lid on social stigma and expose our prejudices if it can help us to help others in need. There are many ways we can do this, all that’s required is a genuine yearning to call for decisive action from the powers that be and ourselves.
This is the main reason I am writing these blogs on mental health. I too swept my Bipolar disorder under the rug for the last 15 years. I was ashamed. The more I learn about mental illness the less ashamed I become. I am here to help others to open up an be mindful of those around you that struggle with some type of mental illness. I didn’t want to talk about it but exposing myself has been such a freeing experience. I am not afraid of being made fun of or misunderstood. Everybody is misunderstood at one time or another.
Imagine living like someone who has bipolar disease which causes your mind to bounce around from different emotions at highly elevated levels? You’re also prone to manic depression which can cause self-harm and harm to others. Yet the people who you would think love you, such as your family and close friends, act like they don’t know you in public. Looking at it from their perspective, they don’t want to be seen with someone who is going to embarrass them. The sad conundrum of the matter is, the person with bipolar can’t help it. They have issues in their mind of which they have no control over and instead need someone else to bring their high-stress levels down. When people with mental conditions cause a public fuss and bring unwanted attention to themselves and you, it’s hard not to feel angry at them. This is why so many people slowly fade away from their side as they cannot bear to be seen with such people in public.
I have pushed so many people away with out intending to do so. My lack of commitment in some cases was the cause. I never intentionally embarrass anyone. I have been told that I have no filter and I agree. My mind is working so fast and sometimes I say things without the ability to process my thoughts before I speak. It’s embarrassing for me as well. I am shamed at times for saying the wrong things or even being to loud. I can’t help it or I wouldn’t do it. It is part of who I am, just a small part. I have some excellant qualities and I pride myself on them. I am responsible person and take pride in what I do. This did not happen overnight. I have been working on learning to live with Bipolar disorder since my diagnosis. I will have this for the rest of my life and I’m going to make it a good one.
There are many factors one could list for why there is still a large social stigma surrounding mentally ill people, but none of them are good enough reasons for leaving them behind. You can’t throw money at the problem and hope it will go away, but increasing the funding to local authorities so they can build and provide services for their constituents would greatly alleviate the pressures put on them. Friends and family members could benefit from learning more about the diseases that affect their loved ones, so they can be ready to calm the situation down when they are having an episode. Learning about mental health can take many forms, and one of them is the academic route which allows you to follow the line of a profession that studies and treats illnesses.