May is Mental Health Awareness Month
There are so many myths and misconceptions out there about mental illness. These mislead people and often cause people not to seek treatment. So much stigma surrounds mental health that people are ashamed or embarrassed by it. Someone can have asthma because their lungs and airways don’t work quite right. A person can have diabetes because their body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Neither of these illnesses are judged or have a stigma attached. So why is it different because someone brain doesn’t make enough serotonin?
Michelle Obama said “Whether and illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness and there should be no distinction”
So often when someone finds out that my daughter has OCD they say something like “oh so she washes her hands a lot?” or “Her room must be so clean!” Yeah, not so much. This is her room. It looks like a bomb went off.
There are different types of OCD and it is very different for everyone. What my daughter thinks is dirty really isn’t but she loves playing in the dirt and is a big slob. It’s very illogical and that makes it all the harder for all of us to deal with it.
The simplest things in life cause me great anxiety. I have trouble making a phone call. I make plans to meet a friend but cancel at the last minute or I just keep declining invitations. If someone doesn’t answer my text or email quickly I think I did something wrong. I don’t participate in a group conversation. Sometimes people think I’m rude for this behavior but it’s the anxiety. Most days I can fight it and win, or at least fake it pretty well, but some days I’m just too exhausted from the fight.
Stop the Stigma
Please don’t take how the media portrays mental illness as the end all be all. Ask questions, learn about it, and support those suffering. Offer help. One of the best things you can say to someone when they share that they are suffering is “How can I help?” They may turn you down but just asking will make a difference.
Help end the stigma!