I feel like there’s so much stigma surrounding the topic of mental health and what it means to be diagnosed, labeled, receive services of mental health, etc. The interesting thing that I keep thinking about, though, is the fact that most people as a society have drawn a strict line dividing those who are recipients of mental health from those who are spectators, a line that then results in the term we most often hear referred to as stigma. Nevertheless, what happens when we merge that line and look at both sides of the spectrum in order to better serve ourselves and others? In other words, what would happen if we were to change the dynamics of this so called society and stop the isolation of those who have at one point been “labeled” with something or another, and instead use it to either inform the spectators, or integrate them back into society and reduce the amount of discrimination that occurs?
It came to me like this one day: If a person is acting out in a classroom due to them dealing with emotional distress, and other classmates, perhaps even the professor or teacher is calling the student out insisting the student is being disruptive or attention seeking purposely, that’s when the stigma comes into play. Nevertheless, as both a mental health recipient and mental health advocate, I can state that this is not true. People do indeed struggle and not everything is for attention. Sometimes, people just need help and don’t know how to get it or ask, other times, they just need an extra push to get there. It took me a while to get away from the self-sabotaging behaviors, and onto a path of success, but I know and understand now that my struggle is so much similar to others who came before and will come after.
I can honestly state that I experienced the same thing with my older brother in my earlier years. Growing up I thought that he could control his outbursts, that he was demanding too much attention, that he just needed to be sent away. But when I got older and went through my own emotional distress, I was able to experience first hand what it was like to struggle so much. I know what it was like to not be in control of my own mind, and then so my body. I hated every minute, every day of it, and I now know that none of it was done by him on purpose.
Empathy. I now understand wholeheartedly what it feels like, and although not all of society may ever understand what mental health challenges may feel like, why judge, belittle, stigmatize, or isolate other individuals based on something they wish they didn’t have in the first place?
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TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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