Will the Mental Illness Stigma Ever end?

A Conversation About the Mental Illness Stigma

I wanted to open this blog post with this, the stigma surrounding mental illness is real. I see it every day. It is all over the daily news. “This person did this horrible act because he/she was mentally ill.” While this is true in some of the cases, mental illness is not an answer to a question. It is an uncontrollable imbalance in our minds. Those of us who live each day, often hiding behind our disease, it can be hard to have peace because we fear what people would say.

When people say, “Why don’t you get over it. Everyone deals with anxiety and depression every day.” It hurts more than you know.

To some this dialogue is true. Millions in this world suffer from temporary depression or anxiety. The problem, millions more deal with depression and anxiety every day. When people say “get over it” it stems from a dialogue that becomes every day speak. It trivializes the entire mental health community when people say in a glorification manor, “Oh, I am feeling Bipolar today.”

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I don’t know about you, but I have never told people I am feeling Bipolar when I am in the worst parts of my illness. When someone says, “I am Bipolar” but uses it in a general sense, it continues to trivialize. It takes away from the people who struggle with the extreme nature of Bipolar Disorder. It changes the narrative in a wrong way. Then when someone is Bipolar and fighting, they become fearful of saying they are Bipolar. The fear and backlash from people who have normalized the disease.

Not in a million years would I chose to be Bipolar. It sucks. I live every day of my life with a truth no one should live this life. I am one lousy depression cycle away from going down the darkest of paths— suicide. No matter how well I am doing at this moment, until the day I leave this world, suicide will always be a possibility in my life. I live with crippling severe anxiety and insomnia that makes life not worth living— and yet I try and find ways to continue to fight. I tell myself daily “Always Keep Fighting.”

Ending the Stigma Through Education

That is why I am writing my memoir. Sharing my experience is one part of the equation. The other half— is to inspire more people to share their own story. I connect with so many people on a daily basis that tell me they are happy to have at least one person who understands. That it is “so much easier to hide behind the stigma than to face people saying get over it.” I have shared my fellow mental health bloggers many times because it helps show the real side of the many facets of mental illness.

Interview Features – The Series

Trust me. If I could “get over it” in an instant, then I would.

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I envision a world where the mental illness community is this open place where we talk about real life. Mental illness and the stigma can only end with dialogue, empathy in the community, and understanding. We as a community are the most significant voices. I understand, so many of us have a hard time sharing our real lives with those closest to us. It’s easier to be here and talking, but I have found that the most significant thing I give people that love me, is education.

I recently completed a Diversity class for my degree, and in that class, my project focused on mental health stigma related to college minorities. My idea was particular to the project— mental health literacy. In a real-world scenario, I would start with classes for middle school students that focus on identifying mental illness and at the same time explore the connections with Bullying and Mental Health.

I think most roads start with real mental health literacy. As a society mental illness is ever increasing issue that most of the time is swept under the rug. Part of the problem is that many of us in the struggle don’t want to be on the outside of society. So we hide behind the stigma, which only makes things more difficult not only in our own lives but also for those just beginning their journey. So I wanted to share this part of me.

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I write under a pseudonym because it is easier for me to share my story. Even as good and open as I am, I never thought I could write under my real name. I am part of the problem. So I thought why not tell the truth.

My name is David. I am Bipolar. I write under my pen name because it’s easier, but I will no longer hide behind it. I am David. I am James Edgar Skye. I am The Bipolar Writer.

If at this moment all you can do is write under a pseudonym than I understand. If you can do more, that is good. I am no longer going to hide behind J.E. Skye because that name is a part of me. It is me, but my real name is just as important.

I believe the stigma can end. The mental illness community has a real shot at making real noise.

Always Keep Fighting.

James Edgar Skye

Please Help me Publish my Memoir

I am almost done editing my memoir “The Bipolar Writer,” and I have decided to go down the self-publishing route. If you can donate anything towards my goal, it would mean the world to me. I am still working towards enough to pay an artist for a good cover. Those that donate will get a special mention in my memoir on a page dedicated to those that made my memoir possible. Thank you in advance!

$2.00

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoRamy Kabalan

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unsplash-logoRoman Mager

unsplash-logoGuillaume de Germain

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42 Replies to “Will the Mental Illness Stigma Ever end?”

  1. Based on the number of years I’ve existed, probably not in my lifetime. We’ve taken some steps forward to take some steps back. While people may not associate it with being ‘crazy’ as much, they still see it as an excuse, a weakness or something you can just get over because happiness is a fucking choice to them.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s tough. I have hope that we can change the stigma. I see so much positive on places like WordPress and websites dedicated to ending the stigma. We have to voice our experiences so that people no longer associate having a mental illness as crazy. It could happen in our lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The stigma is horrible. I always tell people who imply anything like this that I’m strong and I don’t whine or lie or make excuses about anything else, and I certainly don’t use my bipolar as a crutch! At least half the people would crumble and fall and maybe even die under the weight of my bipolar episodes. I wish I could just share a tiny fragment of it with some people, so they could see how nasty it can be.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This was so great for me to read. I have bipolar depression and sometimes I feel like the only solution is the end. It’s incredible how insensitive people can be towards mental illness. I too have had people tell me to “get over it” and my response is always “wow, I never thought about that, maybe I should stop paying my therapist, stop taking my meds and just walk it off like a broken leg”. I just started my blog, and I have many plans for it. One in particular is to share my story as well, my struggles and what I’ve learned about myself, as well as others. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you for writing this. I’m reminded of a children’s musical I attended last year that my 11 yr old (at the time) had a role in, and I COULD NOT believe when in one of the songs that was sung, it said “ or maybe I’m bipolar.” I was so blown away that I didn’t even know how to feel or what to do but it really upset me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello David. It is very nice to meet and welcome. I am very happy you are feeling more comfortable and strong and brave enough to share your first name with us. I know it is a difficult step, but I believe soon you will feel how freeing it is. You should be very proud of yourself, hold your head up high and be yourself. We have absolutely nothing to feel ashamed of that is for sure. The only people that should be ashamed are the people who shame others with mental illness. I also believe I have nothing to be ashamed of telling my story because I did not write it. God wrote my story and I cannot be ashamed of the story God wrote from my life. My job is to share it with others to help others if and when I can. “There is not greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~Maya Angelou Thank you for a beautiful post. It was nicely written as always. Hugs, Sue

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve started just being honest about the issues I deal with. I don’t know if it will backlash on me or not, but I am going to keep doing it so that people can realize – that some of us are human and doing the best we can with what we have.

    I triggered and panic attacked with a new job last month. Had to walk away and walk away fast from it. Now know that I may want to avoid that kind of particular work. I was honest and told the woman that hired me exactly why I turned tail and ran. It was all I could do at that point. And I’m glad I did it.

    I think people need to realize that the person right next to you that looks so “normal” – can be battling horrific things from their pasts and have tremendous PTSD (or bipolar, etc) issues that can knock their feet out from under them sometimes.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s great to meet you. I am glad that you are more open. I know as well as anyone how hard it is. I can understand triggering a panic attack while starting a new job. I used to drive for Uber until I started having issues with my anxiety. There are so many silent sufferers that seem normal. People have no idea how bad it can be for someone right next to you.

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    1. It is very unfortunate. But I think we can change their minds. There is nothing wrong with taking medicine. Most people in America take some form of medication. But because it has to do with a mental illness it changes? You wouldn’t look down on a cancer patient taking medicine.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Nice to meet you David! I definitely understand the feelings you express in this post. Sadly, I don’t believe the stigma will ever end. I do believe, over time, it will be more understood than it is now, but there will always be those with closed minds whose opinions about mental illness will never change. There are so many things that can contribute to someone being driven to commit horrible acts against humanity; it’s not just that they “have a mental illness.” Millions of people who struggle just like you and me do not actively and purposefully hurt others on the basis of struggling with depression or bipolar, etc. The media depiction definitely does not help, though.

    Good luck on your memoir!
    xoxo

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Thank you for sharing. Your point is valid. People are very close minded. We see that in the political realm where people often vote against their best interests simple because you don’t like another. I agree. The media is part of the problem. They only go for mental illness is when people get hurt. I would say those people are a very small minority.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I do think things can improve, RE: stigma. Things have improved for gay people over the years, and things have improved for African Americans, too.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. Thank you for being so open and honest. I use my real name in my blog about anxiety, but I’m still afraid of making the decision to link it to my social media. I’ll be honest, you give me the courage to do so once I’ve got my blog fully functional. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think what annoys me most is that people claim they have no stigma towards mental health, I give off the spiel that it’s “just as bad as a physical illness”. But then they’re thrown face to face with it they run, panic and lie. Because they’re scared. As you said the media fuels this flame. That those with mental health issues are ‘dangerous’ ‘murderous’ ‘uncontrolled’. I personally feel it will take at least another 100 years to even make one step forward. I love your honesty.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. You might be right. Mental illness gets such a bad rap and that makes it harder for people. I understand at some level if you have never lived through a day with a mental illness you might not understand but to claim there is no stigma is wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I wrote under my name and suffered greatly. Your experience may be different. I hope it is. Stigma is here to stay…I think. It makes me happier to stop fighting it and spending all my energy on my own life and pursuits.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s mpre like I decided that I wanted to spend my time thinking about myself, developing myself, and using that approach to change the way people view me…instead of directly focusing on it with them. I put no more energy into actively changing minds, and I accept that human beings will always have stigma towards mental illness…because we are different and unpredictable in regards to the “normal” operational functions of a human. Definitely not giving up 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. That is part of the reason I started my blog. Even though I am not a grammatically correct person. It seems to be what I have started focusing on, as of late…speaking the truth about Mental Illness and Chronic Illness. Standing up to stigma. I’m sick of it. My last what I thought was a long-term job, was a Certified Peer Specialist in the mental health field. The main qualification is that you MUST have a diagnosed mental illness. (Although they have made some exceptions for some care givers years ago). The whole idea is being a peer and being able to tell your story and how you have been in recovery from the depths of darkness in your life. Sharing that hope with others. I enjoyed it most of the time. I would still enjoy it. Except both physical and mental health for me took a turn and has been pretty low. Hopefully, on the way up again. But who knows. We just end up surfing, really; and riding the waves, don’t we? Even if we are drowning. Somehow there has always, even at the last minute, been a hand to help us back up on the board. Doesn’t matter if it was physical or spiritual…it has always seemed to be there in some form.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Hi David, I love EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. I am a person who suffers from comorbidity with MDD being the most severe and the most dibilitating of al lof them. I just went through my own struggle with “the big S” and it took me getting to that point for the second time in my very young life to realize that I’m not going to hide anymore. It’s hard – its going to be hard, but you’re absolutely right in saying that the only way that we’re going to change the stigma surrounding mental illness is if those of us who are suffering from it finally walk out of the shadows and show everyone that we’re peopel just like them.

    Thank you so much for writing this – this is exactly the kind of stuff I love to see on the internet. Real people, real life, real pain, and really talking about it instead of hiding behind a pretty mask.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am glad my blog article could help you. That’s my hope for the future of mental illness. To really get to the point where we no longer hide in the shadows. Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. So well said! Thought you were talking about me there for a minute. Although, bipolar is not one of my illnesses, anxiety and depression my battle after years of domestic violence and ptsd. … We have to tell ourselves to breathe sometimes. Sometimes people don’t understand just how hard that is.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It is so many pretenders in the world. part of your article grabbed my attention. well all of it did. But I noticed everyone in the world seems to be bi polar today. or OCD according to them. I think too many people are wrongly diagnosed and a lot of people are throwing tantrums. it is like the new mass hysteria. everyone is bi polar and it is now an acceptable excuse to behave certain ways. I was diagnosed bi polar years ago. and honestly I don’t believe I am. i think I had many problems happen to me and instead of pills I needed counseling. Not so say depression was not real and maniac is made up. But honestly I believe a lot of people need more counseling. We need to be taught how to rethink. I believe in God and so much of my healing came from God. it also came from the counselors who listened and actually gave good advice. See most don’t think right and had a hard life where brains can not handle too much stress and eventually they break down as a way to protect self.. I had a friend who use to tell me to snap out of it, and honestly I hated her. I was like don’t you think if I could I would. but honestly it is her words that made me realize I needed to take control of my illness for not to be funny but the doctors did very little to help, only over medicate me, which just made things worst. I had to sit down and examine life. I had to write a list of things that put me down. I had to put on some God music and put the Word in me. Not preaching at people but I can say I have been able to maintain a wonderful life now. Illnesses are real and I am not saying they are not, but some are just leaning on excuses. It is a thin line between bi polar, hurt feelings and bad decisions and I only say this because I have seen many who say they are bi polar just really does not seem to be true. and honestly I which more people would sot with psycho therapist, those people went to school to teach you how to reprogram your mind and if you go to them with open ears. That is when I noticed a big difference. Pills can get you out of depression but if we depressed everyday maybe we need to evaluate our lives. I only say this because it worked for me and it could work for another so that is why I wrote it. not coming against your article. Also lets be real many who say they are bi polar still picking up booze and drugs and these things are not a cure but a cause. and until we can approach all aspects of the illnesses it is a hard thing to overcome. It’s why they are closing most of the mental health places down. people don’t want the advice. and if they do who wants to put down their vices? I mean no offense when I say not many bi polar people do.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you for sharing this. It echoes with me in many ways. The stigma is real, and it is sometimes difficult to deal with. I hope to educate others and make a difference with my story as you are doing with yours.

    Have a great week,
    Ernesto

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I doubt the stigma will ever go away entirely. We can hope it will lessen, but it doesn’t help when you have news outlets like Fox News saying those that get disability for mental illness get a “crazy check”. I hate to be partisan, but I feel like fundamentalist conservatives are much more biased against the mentally ill, unless they or a loved ones has it, then they consider it legit of course 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I like how the Amen Clinics in northern California talk about mental issues. Their focus is on the brain and has had success in treating many illnesses as a result. They are trying to change the stigma associated with mental illness and take a more positive approach calling it brain health.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been really impressed with the work they are doing. He truly believes everyone can have a better life. I believe he has a foundation that does research and is lobbying to get rid of the mental illness stigma. He is just getting a lot of push back within the industry. Thanks for checking it out.

        Liked by 1 person

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