Let’s Erase the Stigma
By Valerie Rice | October10, 2020
So,today is a big day, yeah? An epic win for awareness, one would think. Sure. What is mental health awareness? Hint: it is much more than being aware that mental health exists. How many of us have heard of Depression, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, and other diagnoses? Probably all of us. YAY! WE ARE AWARE! Cool. Now, are you aware of how it affects the people who have to live with these disorders? Probably not. Are you aware of how the average person’s behavior makes it worse? Let’s see.
I want to start here because Depression affects a ton of people in this country, including me. Yep. I have major depressive disorder and have for over 20 years. It is horrible. It can strike any person and at any time. There are several types of depression and only a few treatments. And here’s the kicker:this one can be fatal. Let me repeat that for those in the back : DEPRESSION CAN BE FATAL. So, what is it that most people are not aware of? A lot of people don’t want people to ACT like they have a mental illness. You can’t pull yourself out of depression. You can’t think positively to feel better. People with depression often have messy homes and low energy. They are not lazy, they are often physically incapable of movement. Yeah. Do you know how often I stare at my kitchen and wish I could get out of bed and clean it, but instead sob and hide under a blanket? Lots. Depression can cause physical pain, and it is not imaginary. The same part of your brain that causes depression creates pain. Biological fact. We canNOT smile,act happy, and engage with you when struggling under a fresh wave of hell, no matter how much we want to. And those of us who can are dying inside, and close to trying to end it. So it’s me add the suicide hotline https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ and a link for info on when to call.
This is one of the most misunderstood and ill portrayed diagnoses we have. It is a very difficult one to diagnose in children and, unlike depression, has no cure. Schizophrenia used to be categorized into subtypes, but thanks to the DSM 5, we now consider it to be more of a spectrum disorder. Schizophrenia is most obvious in behavior, which makes people afraid of people with this disorder. It also makes people who live with it likely targets of ridicule, abuse, neglect, and other crimes. Also, People with this disorder have a lower life expectancy. It typically requires lifelong medications that have incredibly unpleasant side effects, and a lowered ability to function, medicated or not. This means that the person has a lower quality of life unless their parents are wealthy and willing to support them until the day they die. People with schizophrenic disorders are the ones others call names like crazy, psycho, weird, and so on. Just because they suffer hallucinations, delusions, catatonia, disorganized speech and behavior. For more info, click here.
Dissociative Identity Disorder
This is also near and dear to me, because I have it. This disorder is often misdiagnosed, completely misunderstood, and frequently invalidated in the mental health community. DID was once called Multiple Personality Disorder but was recategorized thanks to the realization that it can successfully be treated, unlike personality disorders. It is trauma based, so like PTSD, the obvious symptoms are triggered by stress and trauma related memory. Others get frustrated by those of us with it because we forget things. All the time. I mean, we dissociate, time has no meaning here, I have no idea what day or year it is 90% of the time. We seem erratic. Yeah, because we are literally NOT the same person all the time. That’s why we are confused for schizophrenic.That and we hear voices. The difference is the voices we hear are not hallucinations. Weird, right? Yeah. I have no idea how you guys can function. Like, where do you go when you are not out and doing things? Where do you rest? Who’s turn is it? We are confusing creatures with our voice, demeanor, style, and everything else seemingly in flux. Our lives are pretty unstable and we tend to have very few friends.There have been a few television shows about DID, making it much more glamorous than it really is, but thanks for the shoutout. Here are 2 excellent videos that seem to describe what I am saying.
What is the moral of my story? Be kind, rewind. No. Be kind, YES, and realize that people with mental illness have no control over their illnesses. Also, people often have comorbid, or more than one, diagnosis. It sucks. It makes life suck. It makes mental illness fatal. Translation: Mental illness is deadly, don’t make it worse. We are a bright, creative, vivacious bunch. Funny that one of us “crazies” would work in mental health, yah? Nope. We are everywhere. We are your parents, child, coworker, boss, therapist, and so on. So don’t judge. Be kind. We are society.