As of 2016, the suicide rate in America has peaked drastically. Most of the time, you look at a suicide and think, “Oh, that’s too bad.” But when it hits home, it’s the most unbearable pain to ever be felt.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety at ten years old. I’ve been on seven different types of medication since then and have seen four different psychiatrists. This is mostly because my mother wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t die before my time, and most days, I’m grateful. Other times, not so much.
In my small group of friends, there are 5–6 people out of 10 that have some form of mental illness, including myself. If that’s just a handful of us, what would it look like if we took a step back and looked at the US as a whole?
According to NAMI, (National Alliance on Mental Illness,) approximately 1 in 5 adults, or 18.5% in the US alone struggle with some form of mental illness. For youths, aged 13-18 in the US, it’s 1 in 5 as well, which is about 21.4%. At a glance, these may look like insignificant numbers, but as a survivor of mental illness, I can tell you that it’s a bit more horrible than it looks.
Now it’s time to talk stigmas.
A stigma is defined as a “mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” If you’ve ever shamed anyone because of their mental illness, you may have made their situation worse. You’ve stigmatized them.
I used to work at a little mom and pop shop on a little street in the middle of nowhere. My boss at the time, we’ll call him Danny, made a comment about people with mental illnesses just faking it for attention when a commercial for antidepressants came on the little TV he kept in the corner. I was infuriated and leapt to the defense of the mental health community, even outing that I too had depression and had an anxiety disorder. He told me that I was just an attention seeker and that there was no such thing as mental illness.
Now let’s take a step back and look at what Danny said to me. Did you catch the stigma? I sure as hell did. Danny was just one case out of the many all across the globe, and we really need to tackle this issue head on.
Now, let’s cut to the chase.
Mental health is one of the most important aspects of human life. When it deteriorates, there is really nothing left of your former self.
Although I can’t speak on behalf of the entire mental health community, I can bust down a couple of stigmas and tell you that we do not “fake it” for any type of attention. It’s not something we can just “deal with.” It is something we struggle with day by day and hope that one day people will stop looking at us like freaks and ignoring the problem in front of their eyes.
Thanks for reading.