Why The Stigma of Mental Illness Keeps Us Silent

I’m sitting in front of my laptop, scared to death of the thoughts that keep circling in my mind.

Nobody loves me. I’m worthless. I’m more of a problem than a human being. Everyone would be so much better off without me. Life is too hard; I can’t cope anymore. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I just want some peace. Close to fifty years on this earth and I just can’t keep fighting this anymore. 

I’m tired of therapy, of medications. Years and years of this nonsense. But those are my only options.

I become desperate to talk to someone who gets it. Someone to talk me down from the ledge. The person that I always turned to, my mother, is gone. Two years without her comforting voice, her unconditional love.

I’m alone with this now. Nobody wants to deal with me and my depression. My suicidal thoughts. Why can’t I just decide to be happy? It’s not that hard, right? 

I’m weak. I can’t hang. (Pun intended.) Life is difficult for everyone. What makes me so damn special? Pick your ass up off the floor and eat something decent! Wash the dishes. Pay those bills. Be grateful that you are still alive.

I reach out to one of my friends who understands but she’s not available. I decide to write a post on my blog. Promptly take it down for fear that everyone will think that I’m seeking attention.

Which in a way, I am.

I forget that a few people can still read what I wrote if they’ve signed up for emails every time that I write something.

A blog friend, someone that I’ve known for years messages me within a few minutes. She gets it. She knows exactly what to say. 

A support group on Facebook comes to my aid. They are all kind, supportive and wonderful. I’ve never met these people but they are now my lifeline. 

Because I am ashamed to tell anyone what I am feeling. They’d think that I am being a drama queen. I’ve felt the stigma of mental illness since I was a young girl. Back then, we didn’t talk about this sort of thing. We kept it on the down-low. That was what I was taught my entire life.

The stigma of mental illness will always exist because those who don’t have it are often speechless, pissed off, or disgusted.

This fact both angers and makes me hurt deep down in my heart. This is why I stay silent. I keep it all to myself. I could win an acting award for best female performance in a dark comedy. 

No, I’m fine. Really. I’m good, I promise. Don’t worry about me. 

I’m so exhausted. Yes, from fighting the depression and ugly, self-destructive thoughts that invade my chemically imbalanced brain. Yet I’m also defeated by the feeling of shame that I’ve had since I was a kid. Because there are so many people that I know who don’t take me seriously when I tell them that I’m struggling with my mental health.

Again.

That’s how it’ll go my entire life, I’ll always have episodes like this. It is inevitable. From past experience, I’ve been treated like a clump of dog shit on a pair of expensive shoes by some people when I’ve opened up.

Or possibly even worse, indifference and avoidance. 

We see memes on Facebook about ending the stigma, telling people like myself to reach out. This is difficult to do when often, our hand gets slapped away. 

I cry, hugging myself, rocking back and forth. I am frightened. I don’t really want to die. Innately, I understand that life is a precious gift and I want to live. That knowledge becomes foggy during a bout of depression. All I want is reassurance that people care and are willing to put in the empathy to help me save my life. 

Even people that I’ve never met before. Sometimes, the right words on my computer screen give me enough hope to hang on for one more day.

6 comments

  1. If I could be there to actually hug you I would be. Know that I’m with you in spirit if not in the flesh. This too really shall pass, but it’s probably going to feel like an F5 tornado is ripping through town while it does. You got this. You are one tough mama and I believe in you. Try to remember, if getting through a whole day feels overwhelming, just get yourself through the next hour. I love you sweetie. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I can’t even find the right words to tell you just how thankful I am that you messaged me when you did. I am taking it minute by minute. I love you too. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fuck it, Mer! I missed that email yesterday or I would have been right there with Erin! Damn it. The one day I decide not to check my emails all day! I’m so, so, so sorry! You know I love you. I care. Even when fighting my own demons, I CARE!! Then I didn’t see your thank you to your friends until this morning and I felt so damn mad that I didn’t catch it yesterday! Oh honey, I’m just glad you had Erin and the others to talk to. Someone who knows what you are going through, or at least understands. I’m glad you sent that post even if you took it down fast. Someone saw it and stepped up to help. You have so many people in your corner. I do know how much it hurts when family turns away. Been there. Big hugs! Will teach me to not read my emails. 😦 Now I will always check!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s alright, Jackie! I know that you would have been right there as well. ❤ My family has no idea. Besides my daughter and even she doesn't know just how bad it got that day. I don't want to put that weight on her, she's just a kid.
      We need to chat soon. Try to stay cool! Hugs back. ❤

      Like

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