I’ve thought two very contradicting thoughts lately. One being that mental illness is still stigmatized and people are still afraid to talk about it and the other being that we’re making mental illness too normal.
I think both are true.
Let me phrase this a different way, my bipolar, your anxiety disorder, or your best friends depression aren’t uncommon and they are definitely not something to be ashamed of. We need to be open when it comes to our illnesses and our health, so that we can get better and we won’t end up another suicide or addiction statistic. It is insanely important that we feel comfortable seeking help and speaking up about these things. Stigma still stands in many people’s way of achieving this.
To counter that stigma people have tried to talk more and more about mental health, but I feel like somewhere along the way we’ve run into something we weren’t planning on, and that’s people thinking their mental illness is normal, and therefore, unimportant, something they just have to make peace with.
I see tumblr post and tweets full of self deprecating jokes all the time, even though it’s not a great coping mechanism, and people in the comments are agreeing. They agree with this horrible thing and then they go about their everyday lives, without taking a second to address the serious issue at hand. Some of them have tried getting help, but a number of them haven’t even considered it.
People don’t seek help for things they deem normal. They definitely don’t think they need treatment for something if they feel like everyone one else is suffering from the exact same thing. This is where I think the normalization of mental illness can get dangerous. We want people to seek help, we want them to be as happy as they can be in day to day life. If taking medication would change someone’s life for the better, we’d like them to be on it instead of commenting “same” on internet posts, before going on into the world with an illness.
We, as a society, need to be insanely careful with how we talk about mental illness. We do want to be talking about it, because that’s how we help people, that’s how we remove the stigma. But we want to make sure we’re talking about it in the right way, in a way that makes it clear that this isn’t normal and it can get so much better. Health is the end goal, sometimes that takes therapy and medications, sometimes it takes a big mind shift, but it always takes the person addressing what is unhealthy about them, and knowing it’s not normal.