Anyone who battles mental illness knows that there is a stigma. It is a terrible stigma, one that holds people back from being able to open up and talk about their mental illness. Too many suffer and die in silence because of this horrible, horrible stigma. It needs to end. And for that to happen it will take each of us individually and all of us collectively.
The silence, the inability for those who battle to open up about their fight, that is certainly part of the reason for this struggle. If more people opened up, if everyone realized how big of a problem this is, it would go a long way towards ending the stigma. Yet that is a challenge. Not everyone is ready to share their story. I know for a long time I wasn’t, so I certainly can’t blame others for staying in the silence until they are ready. I just hope they know that when they are ready to come out, there is an entire community here ready to greet them.
Yet misunderstanding on the part of those who don’t battle also causes some of this stigma. The jokes and the punchlines that portray mental illness as something negative and shameful are still too frequent, and all they do is fuel the fire, fuel the stigma that causes so many to suffer. It is too much to expect these individuals to fully understand the battle, having never been through it themselves. But they can understand fighting something. They should be able to understand compassion. They need to be able to understand that if any progress on ending the stigma is to happen.
I hope that this site, and others like it, are a part of the effort to end the stigma. Yet as I outlined above more needs to happen. And I hope that it ends soon. If you are reading this, whether you battle the darkness as I do or not, you are doing your part, and I thank you so much for that. It gives me hope. And hope is what we will all need until we finally end the stigma.