Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people every year and no one should feel ashamed. By sharing our experiences, together we can end the stigma.

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'Self-stigma' is real and we need to talk about it

When I started taking antidepressants for the first time last year, I was scared of what people would think. Whilst I knew, rationally, that there is no shame in taking medication for a health condition, I was flinching away from the imagined reactions of those who knew me.

I told a select few. Partially because I was advised to, and as an advocate for mental health, it would have been hypocritical of me to stay quiet.

The best way to understand someone's mental health problem is to talk to them

My name’s Carl, I’m 26 years old and I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression for over 10 years. However I suspect even before then there were some mental health issues going on.

I think it's key to talk and create an open discussion on mental health. I believe it should be treated in the exact same way that physical health is treated. We will very likely have either been affected or know someone close to us who is suffering from mental health issues, and it’s a very serious problem. Suicide is the number one killer of men under the age of 45, which is a terrifying statistic.

Mental health stigma doesn't solve issues, it just makes them worse

So where do I begin?

I've been told since I was 12 that my constant stress, sickness and weakness, and panic attacks were nothing more than attention-seeking behaviour.

I didn't want to make friends, but I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want to leave the house, but I couldn't live with the idea of me being a failure. I didn't want to admit something was wrong, but at some point I had to.

Don't judge me just because you don't understand

I've been a "worrier" for as long as I can remember. I worry about things that may never even happen. I worry about a minor quibble or mistake until it evolves into an apocalypse-style scenario. Logically, I know what I'm thinking is implausible or even impossible, but in that moment, the fear is incredibly real.

BPD belongs in everyday conversation

As I listened to my favourite true crime podcast, they started discussing my diagnosis. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and one of the criminals involved in the story shared it too. The following discussion by the presenters made my heart drop.

Borderlines don’t care about other people.
Borderlines are manipulative.
Borderlines are pathologically uncaring and selfish.
Borderlines are violent.

I thought to myself that if they are saying these things, then others must be too.

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