Someone on my Tumblr asked me “is there anything that you wish people understood about mental illness?” I knew I could come up with some answers for them, but I wanted to take it a step further and ask my fellow Stigma Fighters and see what they wish people understood about mental illness.
I won’t always look like something is wrong.
There is no one “look” to mental illness. No one’s symptoms show the same way.
I didn’t ask for this to happen to me.
I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy so what makes you think I would’ve asked for this for myself?
Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I’m happy.
I smile because I don’t want you worrying about me, because I don’t want to be a burden. But sometimes my smile truly means that I’m happy.
We’re not “making it up.”
Similar to the second point – I couldn’t come up with the terrible things my mental illness tells me if I tried to.
It can’t just be turned off.
We cannot “snap out of it”, or “get over it”, we also can’t “take a chill pill”.
We are not faking it and can’t always “just get over it”.
Just like you can’t turn your broken bone off when it’s inconvenient, I can’t tell my mental illness to take a break.
A mental illness diagnosis is not a sign of weakness.
To make it through each day when fighting a constant mental battle takes incredible strength.
Know that telling someone who is bipolar that “what?!? Everyone has mood swings” is really insulting.
Bipolar Disorder is more than just mood swings!
Many people with mental illness have full, productive lives with plenty of happiness, love, and fun.
Perfect example – Demi Lovato. Yes, there are many, many, many more but she’s always the first to come to mind. Also, John Green.
Treatment is not a sign of weakness, but self-care.
A cast for a broken leg is perfectly understandable, so why isn’t medication for a mental illness? We’re just doing the best we can for ourselves.
Using terms like “bipolar” and “OCD” as adjectives is incredibly insulting.
Mental illness diagnoses aren’t just adjectives to be casually thrown around. Honestly, I want to yell at people and/or hit them when I see/hear it.
The link between mental and physical pain is read and proven. Never tell me I’m imagining it or dramatizing myself.
Look up symptoms of mental illnesses and then try to tell me that my physical pain isn’t related…
Yes, I do need those special accommodations for work/study if you want me to function in the real world.
I can’t always focus in class/the office. I space out when working on projects. I just can’t function some days to be a productive person.
Yes, all this medication is necessary.
Yes, I do know what I’m taking.
No, I wouldn’t be better off trying <insert crazy therapy here>.
I researched the medications I was prescribed. I asked friends who take them questions. Not every medication or therapy is right for everyone, so let me find my own path.
Issues that are so called emotional/psychological are also physical, because they come from the brain. Though they can be affected by the environment, they are, by nature, brain disorders and that’s why a lot of people require medicine to get better (yes, not everyone, but many.) Also, though meds are often over-prescribed and have bad side effects, they are often necessary and worth the price. I want the stigma to not just be taken away from people with illnesses, but also taken from those who choose to (or have to) use medication to cope. Therapy is preferable and meds are a last resort ideally, but they can save lives.
Also, specifically with schizophrenia: it is not about being finicky and unreliable, and definitely not the same thing as multiple personality/dissociative identity. Furthermore, mental illness can be a result of trauma but isn’t always. I have so many people say to me “I don’t get it, you had a great family and a nice life, why do you have a mental problem?“
Pretty sure this one speaks for itself..
Borderline Personality Disorder is not always a result of trauma, sometimes it’s genetic.
I’d never heard that BPD could come from trauma.. Sometimes mental illness just happens with no explanation. Other times it comes from trauma (PTSD, Panic, Anxiety) and sometimes it’s genetic, meaning that it runs in the family.
The fact that it’s not visible doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Cancer isn’t always visible. Asthma isn’t always visible. Mental illness isn’t visible, but it’s not treated the same. Why?