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Stop Stigma

The Messy Truth That Is Mental Illness

So for the love of God, Buddha, Mohammed, or whatever god you believe in, if someone in your life suffers from mental illness, please visit them. Please care for them and extend a helping hand. Sinead, like myself, are fortunate enough to be seeking constant treatment and are able to share our experiences and opinions on what we go through. But there is a significant group of people who cannot.


 

 

 

#OneOfMillions

Posted by Sinead O'Connor on Thursday, August 3, 2017

According to the BBC, in a follow-up message published on Wednesday, an unnamed spokesperson said: “I am posting at Sinead’s request, to let everyone who loves her know she is safe, and not suicidal. “She asked for this to be posted knowing you are concerned for her.”

Mental Illness Forgives No One

“Mental illness does not give a shit who you are.” They affect everyone equally and the effects can be devastating. For Sinead O’Connor, a performer who recently made a Facebook video indicating that she has been suicidal, it hit her hard. And it hit me hard. Mental illness can kill, and it does.

The video opens with one of the quotes that relate to me the most and that is that people use mental illness as a reason to beat you up instead of to show compassion. Her psychiatrist, who sees her as her hero was – at that point – “the only thing keeping (her) alive.”

Mental illness and the stigma attached to it is, evidently, starting to take its toll on millions of people who suffer from some form of mental illness. The moment you open up to your loved ones that you suffer from mental illness, it can cause people to detach and point at mental illness and use it as a reason to further detach themselves from you. This invalidation can instead make the situation worse.

I’m Not Staying Alive For Me

Another thing that reaches out and relates to me is the fact that Sinead struggles through her daily life and stays alive for the millions and millions of people who do exactly that – point at her and blame her – instead of living for herself. The level of frustration when everybody seems to be pointing at you and blaming you for your own mental illness makes it very tempting to simply give up and end your life, end her life.

There should not be a reason that the mentally ill should be punished for being mentally ill. Left with no option, Sinead has walked alone for two years due to this frustration, and I believe that many mentally ill persons have also had to walk their road alone. For being mentally ill, Sinead and other mentally ill persons have been punished and forced to walk the road of trying to get better, seeking ways to recover and struggling with depressive and sometimes suicidal thoughts, alone.

And then you have the fact where we want people to be around us, and care for us, and help us on our recovery, and make us feel validated. But sometimes, there just isn’t anyone. Those mentally ill, in Sinead’s words, “were angry that they all fucked off. And they said they didn’t fuck off, while they’re fucking off.”

Invalidation

Some people use mental illness to invalidate everything that that mentally ill person thinks, say, feel or acts. As if it is a crime, a punishment. And this is the exact converse of others ‘fucking off’, we don’t want to stay around people who would constantly invalidate us. It pains us, so we leave, we get up and leave. Why would we want to stay around people who use our own mental illness as something to beat us up and punish us with?

There shouldn’t be a reason that because we are not dying of cancer, and instead something emotional, that we are punished, to be alone. Support and validation will go a long way to making the mentally ill, slightly less ill, and allow to them – to hopefully – find another reason to continue living.

One Of Millions

Millions of people face the same problem, mental illness. But we all seem to be all alone, huh? A lil’ weird if you ask me. In Sinead’s words, “we can’t take care of ourselves, you have to take care of us.” And we are all trying our best, like those without mental illness. But in our lives, everything seems to be a mess. People, including your loved ones, leave you and it seems to them like it is okay.

It gets to me that it can seem ranty that I am writing about this and people are making videos and we have whole sites dedicated to eliminating stigma because we shouldn’t be doing this. We shouldn’t need to do this. We try our best to stay alive and we try our best at life to be the best we can be. We stay alive for the people around us, whether they love us, or have left us.

Sinead mentions that it is not the mental illness that kills, it is the stigma that kills. The stigma that people with mental illnesses are somehow “at fault” for their own problems, or can simply “snap out of it”. This same stigma leads people to think about ending their life, because those around them degrade them to the point where somehow, life becomes worthless. Life shouldn’t be worthless, there is no reason for it to be worthless, but it is. Stigma makes it that.

So for the love of God, Buddha, Mohammed, or whatever god you believe in, if someone in your life suffers from mental illness, please visit them. Please care for them and extend a helping hand. Sinead, like myself, are fortunate enough to be seeking constant treatment and are able to share our experiences and opinions on what we go through. But there is a significant group of people who cannot. And it is not their fault. Mental illness is hard to talk about. The stigma around it is harder to talk about. They might be afraid, they might be struggling, but a helping hand will help tremendously. There shouldn’t be a reason where random internet strangers show more support than our own loved ones, friends or family. We want to get better and we want to recover, and we will – at the back of our heads – want someone to help us on this road. Please go get them.

Final Word: Mental illness can be messy, but so is many other illnesses. This is the truth behind mental illnesses. We can appear to be high-functioning members of society, but behind closed doors, we could be shouting and screaming for help. The stigma around mental illness can sometimes be quite irrational and the reasons behind ostracising those mentally ill, even more irrational. The fact that we can bear to leave those who are (mentally) ill alone should be a sign in itself, that we shouldn’t be doing so. It might be hard to wrap your mind around a mental illness if you are not mentally ill yourself, but the support and help you can extend can potentially save lives. While I can share my story, many cannot. Those same people who cannot share their story might be your loved ones. Please reach out and help.


If you are or suspect you might be, mentally ill, please locate the nearest psychiatric facility near you and visit them.
Do not be afraid to reach out for help. There is nothing to be afraid of. Sure, stigma’s a bitch, but your health should come above all.


References, Links & Sources:

  • http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-40862321
  • https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/09/sinead-o-connor-reality-mental-illness



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