December 5, 2012

Amanda, a Time to Change bloggerIt’s an everyday occurrence boy meets girl. It is a normal process in life, to have the confidence and the curiosity to speak to the opposite sex. Being part of Time to Change's youth panel I feel obliged to share the stigma I experienced on my way to a panel meeting.

Being early for the meeting, I decided to stop off to get a hot drink and shelter from the harsh breeze blowing off the Thames. Having seen my favourite snack in a basket I ordered the pretzel with a hot chocolate. Next to me a guy ordered a toasted sandwich they got it wrong so he repeated it, which made me look over to him. “He has the same bank card as me”. I observe.

Typical of Londoners in a hurry to get their coffee and go I thought. I have a sweet tooth I stop and add extra sugar. A seat becomes available next to the condiments table. I thought I may as well sit there. Sipping my frothy hot chocolate I realise the guy at the counter is sat to my right. I get my phone out to check it out of boredom. I see my mum has emailed me, a daily exchange we have since I moved to university.

"Are you French?” I turn towards him and smile “No, I’m English” I say in my Yorkshire accent. He said it must be your style that you look French. I’ve been asked where I am from many times never has anyone thought I was French before. We get talking, flirting, asking questions. People always say people in London are ignorant and will not give you the time of day. I think they are some of the friendliest people I’ve met.

“You are ticking all the right boxes, then I find out that you are insane”

Telling him about how passionate I am about working and supporting charities since my early teenage years, he says “You are ticking all the right boxes, then I find out that you are insane” The word ‘insane’ echoed through my head bouncing around like I was trying to register its meaning fitting the right definition . Am I offended by this? Should someone use such a word? Is anyone ever insane?

I just sat and repeated no “I am not insane” almost as a self-declaration. Nobody is the perfect human being. No one ticks all these boxes whatever their ideal perfect person should be. Because reaching an idea of perfection is impossible. People have flaws. They have a personality that makes them individual.

I suffer from mental illnesses it’s hardly a chat up line or something you can slip into conversation yet it is something that affects my everyday life

I am not ok with that statement. I’ve always found it hard to talk to the opposite sex due to the reaction I always get. I suffer from mental illnesses it’s hardly a chat up line or something you can slip into conversation yet it is something that affects my everyday life. How can I lie and say I’m ok when they ask me how I am when, actually I am having one of my down days? That’s not a kind of relationship I want to be involved in, when I fear the reaction I will get if I disclose my past and my medical history.

I hate that I am afraid. I don’t want to have to silence myself. I regret not saying I was offended by the word insane. I don’t want the stigma that comes with depression. I want to be able to talk to a stranger and not have all my insecurities at the forefront of my mind repressing them.

Please support Time to Change and let’s end stigma and discrimination today.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or pledge to to share your experience of mental health problems today and find out how talking tackles discrimination.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.