Hello lovelies. My name is Katie Ellen and I have struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. However, I wasn't professionally diagnosed until my late teens and this is mainly because I was scared. Scared to open up, scared of the truth and most of all scared of the stigma that comes with being ‘mentally ill’.
Now I will be 100% honest with you in the fact that I haven’t had many experiences with mental health stigma but what I can tell you is that on the rare occasion I have it has come from someone that I know and care about. I believe deeply that the people who have said things to me have done so out of concern. You see, when people get scared or worried they tend to say things that come across as rude and insensitive. For example, “Why are you back on your medication? You’ve been fine!”, “But you have nothing to be depressed about?” or “Just push yourself to leave the house, you will feel so much better when you do!”.
Although I know that these things deep down come from a good place I can’t help but feel like if you don’t have a mental illness it’s hard to understand how painful it is to hear things like that. I wish I didn’t have to take medication daily, I wish I knew why my mind sometimes wants to hurt me in ways you can’t imagine and I sure as hell wish that leaving the house was as simple as feeling motivated to do so.
I know that from the above I may seem angry and upset by the comments people make but honestly I’m not. Personally the way I overcome mental health stigma is to see things from a different point of view. The people who make the choice to attack people with a mental illness are often uneducated on the topic. We were never taught in school how to deal with or look after someone with a mental illness.
I feel that with the internet being a huge thing in young people’s lives it is our job to make sure that they understand mental health. Although lots of us face stigma it is important to try to brush it off. Your mental health does not define your character and I believe that if we all have the strength to fight mental illness daily we also have the strength to not get angry at those who stigmatise us but instead try to reason with them and explain politely that mental illness is not something fictional but that it is something we cannot control and have to live with on a daily basis.
I want to thank ‘Time To Change’ for giving us all an opportunity to speak out about this and to help us fight against mental health stigma. I know that if I would of seen this website a few years back I would of gotten help a lot sooner had I known that there where others exactly like me.