I am not ‘crazy’, I have a mental illness

The stigma attached to mental illness has been influenced by the media, crime, television dramas, and the people in our community that label anyone who isn’t ‘normal’, physically or mentally. These labels are an inaccurate, uneducated perceptions of people who suffer a disease, illness, or disability. the result causing discrimination, bullying, mistreatment, and exclusion, all culminating into a stigma that affects all aspects of society.

What was once a society built on racism and sexism we are now drenched in a stigma that represents the mentally ill as crazy, people we should exclude, and socially isolate, a society who choose not to support the vulnerable, and a society too scared to ask those close to them “R U OK?”, and if they are not implementing action to support. This stigma is so engrained that we don’t send get well cards to those who are mentally ill, we question sick leave, time off and other work arrangements that assist the mentally ill from managing a balance between work, and their mental health, we criticise and ridicule those who have sadly died or attempted suicide due to their mental illness, and we openly exclude and isolate because its easier not to get involved. We are a society who walks away from family and friends because we see the mentally ill as the ‘Black Sheep’ and its easier to run than to stop, listen, understand, and actively support.

We are neither crazy nor contagious, we are sick, mentally ill!

While organisations like BeyondBlue, R U OK?, Sane Australia, and Headspace are actively working to breakdown the stigma attached to mental illness, there is still a long way to go before society does not label us, workplaces don’t discriminate, and our family, friends, and colleagues don’t exclude and isolate us.

Nobody with a mental illness should be embarrassed, ashamed, or scared to openly talk about their illness. We are no different to the lady with cancer, the man with heart disease, the woman in the wheelchair, or the child with a learning disability. We shouldn’t be labelled as crazy, a criminal, a psycho, or anything else that unfairly associates the mentally ill with what we are not.

We are mentally ill, not a blemish on society who should be treated so differently.

In the coming weeks I will explore stigma attached to depression further, and discuss the mechanism by which each of us as individuals can contribute to breaking down the stigma and discrimination that those with depression face daily.

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4 thoughts on “I am not ‘crazy’, I have a mental illness

  1. Yes, the media is negative in its regard to mental illness. Also, they use suicide in the movies and tv as just a dramatic effect. I can’t tell you how many movies and programs I have seen in the last 5 yrs since my son died by suicide where they unexpectedly have someone die that way. It is a cruelty to those of us who have in real life had to watch play out in our own lives. I have to guard myself as to what I watch…which is very little in the way of new shows and such…but, I find myself watching the old movies…where I feel safe. I abhor the movies where they make fun of someone who has depression and has died by their own hands. Our world has far to go in its understanding of mental illness. I hope you continue to educate from your personal experience with mental illness. I also hope you find peace and healing one day.

  2. Pingback: Stigmas and taboos | thestorieswehide

  3. Great post. I’ve noticed a lot of the same things you’re talking about in the media, and in day to day life also. The reason I started my blog was to help friends and family (and maybe some strangers too) change their perspective on mental illness and understand it a little better, hopefully reducing stigma and getting people talking about it.

    I’m looking forward to reading some more of your posts 🙂

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