Living in a World with no Mental Illness?

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I am used to knowing people who don’t want to talk about mental illness because of the stigma and because they are not educated on  the subject.  Conversations dealing with taboo words like mental illness, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, ADD, PTSD, etc are uncomfortable to talk about.

It is not common for someone with a mental illness to let their boss, friends, and sometimes even family know they have one.  The stigma is so strong and people are so uneducated. Most people have never taken the time to research mental illnesses because they don’t think it impacts them.

Well, it does impact everyone. Think about it: If 1 in 4 people have a mental illness, I would think it is near impossible for someone to not know someone with a mental illness.

Not wanting to talk about it is one thing. However, to totally shun people away who do share they have a  mental illness, have a family member who has one, or bring it up because they suspect they might have one.

My hope is that more and more people feel comfortable in talking about mental illness, how it impacts them, and are able to educate others about what it means to have a mental illness.

It is ok to talk about having cancer, that your loved one has Alzheimer’s or that your child has leukemia. It is acceptable to share that you have diabetes or a thyroid problem without being judged, ostracized, and being made to feel like you are less than a person.

However, it is not acceptable to bring up anything to do with a disease that affects the brain called mental illness. Most mental illnesses are a result of an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. It is not a sign of weakness. It is not something someone should feel like they are weak if they have it.  In fact, those who struggle with illnesses like bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and others really are strong. In order for those with mental illnesses to hold down a job, accomplish things, and to be successful, they often have to work harder than those without mental illnesses. In addition, it takes guts to tell someone else about their illness and/or to seek out treatment and help.

The “shh..don’t tell” mentality needs to change.  I should be able to ask someone to sign a petition, take part in a walk, tell someone that I have bipolar disorder, or like my FB page dealing with my mental illness without shame. I should not have to worry about losing their friendship or losing a job because I share that I have a mental illness. I certainly should not have to second guess myself anytime I try to get others to help me with a cause or share my life story.

People like to act like they don’t ever get depressed and don’t know anyone with a mental illness. It’s embarrassing for many people to even talk about it.  People who judge me because I have bipolar disorder are uneducated and are helping to strengthen the stigma. Frankly, I think a lot of these people are clueless. I suspect that they don’t even want to know about it.

You can’t be living in society today and not know anyone that has a mental illness. If you want to deny that then I would have to call you “crazy”.  At least I am open to the fact that I have a mental illness and if people want to call me crazy so be it.  However, those who hide behind an invisible wall where they and everyone they hang out with are free from mental illness  are ignorant, not compassionate, certainly not caring, and uneducated. I would also go as far as to say they are discriminating against a group of people.

So, if you are one of those people who shy away from even the mention of mental illness, take off your dark glasses.  You might find out that people with mental illnesses are not that different from you. They can be successful, they are often kind and caring and many are very intelligent. One might be your co-worker or a neighbor or friend.

Give it a try! If you are living in a world with no mental illness, you are living in an imaginary place and maybe you need to have your “head examined”.

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About Michelle Clark Bipolar Bandit

I am a strong advocate for the mentally ill and have been since I was first approached by a lawyer in a psychiatric facility as a teenager. He wanted me to help him fight how the mentally ill are mistreated. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17 after a full blown manic episode. Before that, I suffered from debilitating depression for 4 years. My goals are to help others by sharing my story and providing tips to deal with mania and depression. I often write blogs related to advocating for people like myself. I want to encourage, inspire, and educate those with #bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses and also include inspirational #quotes. I founded the group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses and the page Mental Health Advocates United and have several social media sites that are related to bipolar disorder and/or advocacy. If you are an advocate or would like to be, I hope you join our FB group: Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses
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5 Responses to Living in a World with no Mental Illness?

  1. I agree with you whole heartedly! I have bipolar disorder myself. I just started a blog to spread the word that we really aren’t all that different and that mental illness needs to be brought out of the shadows and treated like any other illness. I work as a peer support specialist and I had the opportunity to go to the National Council on community mental health conference in Las Vegas. I saw Patrick Kennedy speak about parity for mental illness. He asked ‘consumers’ to step up and to do exactly what you are doing! Thank you for being a voice.

    • Thanks for your encouragement! I just went through peer specialist training. I admire Patrick Kennedy so much for what he has done. Will you please send me the link to your blog so I can check it out? I will also add it to one of my Pinterest boards. (bipolarbandit@gmail.com) Subject: Blog to be shared

  2. Linda says:

    I think that patients with mental illness should be treated with the same kindness, respect and consideration as every other patient. It is very sad, even in this day and age with all the advanced technology and people are supposed to be more open minded and understanding, that abuse, neglect and ignorance is still vivid.

  3. gmail says:

    good article i bookmarked it..

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