No Shame, No Stigma

Opening up to someone new about one’s battle with mental health can be hard. It shouldn’t be hard, but the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues makes it hard. And the lies that mental illness whispers in your ear make it even harder. And if you accidentally open up to someone new about your mental illness, it might be natural to feel a little shame. Yet there is no reason to feel that shame. We all, whether we battle mental illness or not, need to move to a place where we view mental illness with no shame and no stigma.

I say this because yesterday I meant to text someone who is part of my support network about how I was doing with my mental health, but accidentally texted a colleague who I’d never talked to about mental health before.

And as annoying as it is when you text the wrong person, the worry about sharing something as personal as your mental health can make it a truly awful-want-to-hide-your-face sort of experience.

And of course, I quickly did the automatic, “whoops, wrong person” text and tried to shrug it off. But then I asked myself, who the hell cares if he knows? Maybe he changes his attitude towards me, maybe he doesn’t. I can’t control that, but it doesn’t change anything about how I manage my mental health. I have nothing to be sorry for because mental illness is not a weakness.

I’ll say again for everyone to hear, mental illness is not a weakness.

And I said earlier that all of us had to move to a place where there was no shame and no stigma. And this is so true because while 1-in-4 individuals battle a mental illness, chances are even those who don’t battle those particular demons know someone who does. So really, mental illness impacts all of us. And by the same token, we will all benefit from moving to a world that has no shame and no stigma.

And it might be a while before we get there, but it is certainly something positive to think about as we head into the weekend.

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