Many people feel that the stigma of mental illness is worse than the illness itself.
People with a mental illness are not only dealing with their symptoms of anxiety, depression and in some cases mania, disassociation or psychosis, but they also have to deal with their society’s opinions of them. The stigma of mental illness is still prevalent. This stigma may leave people with mental illness to feel shame or internalize the stigma. But if they have somehow gotten past their own feelings of shame or internalized stigma, they may then have to deal with their own family and friends who may have stereotypical, stigmatizing beliefs about mental illness. The stigma surrounding the mental illness can exaserbate symptoms and diminish self esteem.
Being unwell may cause one to feel overwhelmed, overtired or self critical. The illness may be crippling, or cause a significant lack of ability to function or carry on with everyday life activities like work or school . Being off work can as a result in one feeling worthless or helpless. As if those feelings weren’t enough, when the people around you think that you are lazy, faking it, or not trying hard enough to be well or “normal” it amplifies negative feelings Being referred to as crazy, reckless, lazy, useless or a burden only makes someone who is already struggling with their self esteem to feel even worse about themselves. Labels like this perpetuate the stigma of mental illness and cause people with the illness to internalize these feelings, and intern, internalize the stigma. They begin to believe they are not doing what they can to be “normal” and begin to get even more frustrated about their condition and the state of the lives.
Public attitudes may be slightly changing but they still have not changed enough for people with mental illness to not feel the lurking stigma of their illness. Let’s raise awareness. Let’s end the stigma.