Monday, 10 October 2016

The sting of stigma


When people have the flu, they find it extremely easy to pick up the phone and call their work to tell them that they cannot go in that day. Psychically you can see symptoms of the flu and your boss will say yeah no worries. Imagine trying to call in to work sick with a mental illness? Where a boss may poke and push for answers- "you seem fine" "you look fine" "just see if you feel better in an hour and then come in". How can you call up a work place explaining you had a suicide ideation that morning or you couldn't get out of bed due to a major trigger? Mentally ill should be allowed to make that phone call but due to the stigma around mental illness, those phone calls are often made but instead of saying we are ill, we will say we just have the 'flu'. 

We go to parties and sit quietly in the corner. We dissociate from the laughter and interaction around us because we do not feel present. We long for someone to ask us what is wrong. We then get asked what is wrong by someone who has picked up we aren't quite ourselves. But due to stigma, we say we are 'fine'. In this society it's not okay to not be okay. You are viewed as weak and dramatic if you express the pain you are in to a group. You are viewed as 'crazy' as soon as you directly communicate how you are feeling deeply. So you sit there and you be 'fine' because it's better to be fine then be sad. No one likes a sad person at a party. 

You drag yourself home to your room and you sit by yourself. No one knows you are sitting on ideation of ending your life and you are fighting hard with regulating emotions and hurting yourself seems better then trying to explain to someone the agonising pain you are still in. So you shut yourself in your room and see how everyone is on social media talking about meaningless things. Like how they are excited for music events, what happened with celebrity families and what new food place is opening in their home town. You reach out and they ignore the message. Back to social media and they have time to reply to a comment but will ignore yours. Then they will finally reply and say you'll be fine babe. Forget all this mess. You'll push through. 

You speak up so loudly for your voice to be acknowledged. You see people support mental health day, r u okay day and other social media trends. But then the next day comes and no one speaks about it again. No one remembers that this is your day every day. Your day consists of constantly talking yourself out of going to the train station, going to the pharmacy to get those pills, avoiding the kitchen and sharp objects. That it's 'all in your head'. That you will be 'fine in the morning'. That you seem 'happy on social media' so that must represent the real you. If i spoke often about the thoughts in my mind that I deal with, no one would know what to say. 

You then think about how sad it is that someone loses a life to their mental illness. You ponder on what you could of done more, or what you could of done better. Those thoughts stay but easily leave your mind again because you forget that you had some paper due or you were meeting your friend for a coffee at 3pm. You read an article on suicide on Facebook but because you are so afraid of what other people think about the subject you choose to scroll past it and not share it. You are a slave to stigma. 

You hear I'm in hospital again and you ignore that. You go out with your friends after I send you photos of my wrist and you ignore that as you view it as another desperate way to seek your attention. You don't bother replying til the next morning while I lie awake for the rest of the night trying not to end my life. The vicious cycle continues and you keep ignoring the warning signs as you are ignorant. You think it's impossible to help but you are too much of a fucking coward to tell people how it really is around you and try educate yourself on the reality of it all. But instead you shove your head into your phone and live through your superficial virtule world while you ignore the reality of suicide rates. The reality of the illness. The reality of what is my life. 

You hear someone put me down and instead of defending me you join in due to stigma. Someone labels me crazy and you agree even though you've had first hand experience with it all. You continue to put me down even though you have seen me have a psychosis. You join in the mocking of someone so mentally impaired because it makes you feel normal for all the things you refused to do. It shifts the guilt away. But you have no idea what life would be like if I did end my life. You would have no idea of the stigma you create towards me and how much it has impacted my life. 

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