Stigma a noun meaning a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. That’s the dictionaries definition of stigma. That’s the definition for people who are the reason stigma exists. That’s the definition for a person who has never been affected by the word. But to me that definition is different. To me the definition of stigma is a cruel label that prevents people from seeing the true side of a person because of their pre-created misconceptions already in their head. To me stigma is something that prevented me from being open about who I was and what I have been struggling through for 7 years of my life.
See the world of mental illness is an extremely sore subject for most. Yet it never had to be and doesn’t have to be. The stigma associated with mental illness was created by how the mentally ill used to be treated and how they were portrayed as literal “crazy people,” but the stigma should’ve ended when we as a society learned what mental illness really is. Yet that didn’t happen and the media took society’s view on mental illness and sent it spiraling down the wrong path. Mental illness continued to be portrayed as crazy people which left society to look at the mentally ill and fear. Fear the unknown. Fear the idea that mental illness cannot be seen so how do we know what it is. Instill fear in those with mental disorders that what they are feeling is not real. The idea that people believe mental illness is not an illness because it cannot be seen which harms those who have the disorders. Harms the innocent people who are suffering and all they want is support from the people around them. Yet so many people with mental disorders fear that no one will support them because of the negative stigma surrounding mental illness. This fear creates more fear that one will be judged just for opening up about how they’re feeling. That you will not be accepted by others because your illness is not seen.
This stigma kept me hidden in the dark for so long. I was terrified to open up about how I was feeling and what I was feeling. Terrified that I would never be accepted because I wasn’t like everyone else. Because I didn’t feel the same as everyone else. Because I was sick but didn’t want to be. I put a facade everyday in school and around people because I didn’t want them to know what was going on inside of me. I never feared my anxiety for the fact that everyone has anxiety but it was my depression and suicidal thoughts that caused me fear. Fear to open up. Fear to tell anyone that I was feeling this way. Fear that they wouldn’t understand. Fear of them shaming me. I was ashamed of who I am because that’s what I had learned to feel. But at this point in my life, 7 years after it all began, I’m finally not ashamed anymore. I don’t want to hide who I am anymore. I want more people than just a few very close people in my life to know the whole me. I don’t want to be that really happy outgoing girl that most people think I am all the time. Because I am truthfully not happy all the time and not going to lie it’s very tiring pretending to be. I want to be able to show that hey I am sad sometimes and no I am not that strong girl you think I am. I break and I cry and I am not strong all the time. I am who I am because of what I’ve been through. I laugh a little harder at the little things sometimes because happiness doesn’t always come around as often as it should. I jam a little harder to throwbacks in the car than I should but its the little things that can bring me the greatest joy sometimes. And if people can understand that a little more by me finally being open about me, I think that is what would make everyday a little easier. My depression is not who I am but it is apart of me. Apart of me that has been hiding in the dark for so long but after many years and some very important people telling me it’s okay to show who you are, I have finally realized it is okay for me to be me. Don’t get me wrong this post absolutely still terrifies me and I still do fear acceptance and judgment but I’ve learned in order for me to keep getting better and improving myself I can’t hide anymore:)