Thursday, 4 June 2009
Stigmas And Stereotypes.
It seems to me we have some ways to go. The stigmas and the stereotypes, the foregone conclusions that certain segments of society perceive about mental health issues, is still prevalent.
There are people who are suffering with mental illness. They will not seek the help that is available. For, because of society's perceptions, they are too ashamed to admit they desperately need help in their world that is falling apart. To suffer is silence, out of fear of people's reactions; is a sad reflection on an indifferent, dismissive society.
It makes me wonder, and, perhaps it makes you wonder, just what it takes for the stigmas and the stereotypes to be eliminated. Mental illness can happen to anyone. Those that would mock individuals with mental health concerns, who think it is a form of weakness, I would urge them to think again. To those who think we should 'get a grip', it is not that straightforward, it is not that simple. To those who think that they would not be vulnerable to an overwhelming negative environment, think again.
Once upon a time, I thought that mental illness only happened to others. I was a 'tough guy', tough enough to overcome any obstacles that blocked my pathway. I was wrong. I was overwhelmed with a hysterical sense of doom. I fell apart, my confidence and self-worth became an insignificant speck, deep inside the mind of a tormented man. Relentless workplace bullying took its toll on my ever increasing fragile state of mind. I became a failure to my wife, I nearly broke the heart of our little boy who saw his Daddy becoming a weak, frightened little man.
Through sheer determination, and the vital help of those who empathise, somehow I stifled the flames of a mental inferno that came so close to engulfing me. Yes, I am still not very well, yet I realise that my mental illness is only a small portion of who I am. I can choose how much of my life it controls.
So this tough guy got humbled by his illness. To those who know me, who mock me, yet fear me; I wonder what the mocking is all about. Do these people who think me weak really believe that they could handle a negative environment that tries to drown their humanity? Do they fear me because they think I might have a funny turn and attack them? Do they think my mental illness is contagious? Do they fear me because they have concerns about their own mental health?
It is our responsibility to create a more positive environment. The mental health wellbeing of all of us depends upon it. It is time for those who continue to label us with stigmas and stereotypes to understand that a friendly, more understanding, more compassionate and respectful society will benefit all mankind.