What is Stigma & why does it exist?
It is not easy living with mental illness. Mental illness carries with it a stigma that follows the person everywhere they go. Those who are different, and do not meet the expectations of others. Likewise, people call us crazy, psycho or insane. And while these terms may fit some people who suffer from mental illness, the majority are able to lead functional lives with medical intervention.
A stigma is the belief that something causes you to be a bad person. It is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” Furthermore, I believe one of the main reasons stigma exists is because people do not understand mental illness. People seem to either fear or mock things they do not understand. Likewise, they also tend to shun those who do not fit in.
Living with Mental Illness
Unless you are either a person living with mental illness or a trained therapist, you likely don’t know much about it. You do not know what it’s like not trusting your thoughts, or feelings. And you don’t know what it is like to constantly feel the ups and downs associated with mood swings. To wake up in the morning feeling euphoric and happy, only to go to bed wishing you would die. Especially when your illness is as severe as mine is.
Living with mental illness is a constant, every day struggle. It feels like a battle within your mind. You are constantly trying to tell yourself things are real even though they may not be. And wishing things weren’t real that probably are. You try telling yourself that the voices are all in your head despite hearing them screaming at you until your ears ring.
Delusions & Paranoia
A delusion is not a hallucination, but rather a break from reality. But they can involve hallucinations. Delusions can seem very real and believable. So much so that it can cause a person to do everything they can to try and make it come true. Delusions can come in many forms. For example, a common delusion people have involves religion and God. Someone can become deluded into believing that they have a special relationship with God, even hearing his voice. I have personally suffered this delusion myself. The person can believe God is speaking directly to them and commanding them to perform specific tasks.
Another form of delusion is the paranoid delusion. You walk outside and the first thought in your head is wondering who is looking at you. Arriving at work, you look at your coworkers and wonder which of them are making fun or talking about you behind your back. If people are conspiring against you. In addition, a person can even become so paranoid they believe there are cameras in their own home. This was the delusion that made me realize I might be mentally ill.
You might even walk outside and see strangers differently. Walking around you begin to wonder who will try to harm you in some way. Even wondering why that person is smiling at you. The struggle takes place every single day, all hours of the day. And it never goes away. Sometimes not even medication can make it go away completely. And this can leave the person suffering with very little hope. And it can even lead to suicide.
Suicide is never the answer
Suicide is not just limited to those who suffer from a mental illness either. According to the CDC, 54% of those who committed suicide did not have a known, diagnosed mental illness. It is never the answer to any problem. But unfortunately tens of thousands of people not only consider it, but attempt it every year. I have even attempted to take my own life in 2012, after the loss of my little girl 2 years prior.
The grief was overwhelming for me and I lost my will to live. However, I pulled myself out of it and decided to just survive. Now I am in treatment and things are slowly getting better for me. That is why I started this blog. To help others and help myself. To bring awareness to mental health and the stigma.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or self harm, please call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8355. You are not alone.
Hack the Stigma. Hack the Planet.
IamThePatRatt – The Bipolar Hacker