There’s this thing called a stigma. Merriam-Webster defines stigma as “a mark of shame or discredit” and that doesn’t sound too nice. Some people look down on others for the mental illnesses they have and their mental state. This causes people to be so scared of getting help or showing their true selves they suffer in silence. That is not okay. No one should deal with that alone because it’s too big to do that. It’s too much to have to deal with monsters in your head and in society. So let’s go over a couple common misconceptions and put a stop to the stigma that is causing our community to feel so alone.
- You’re an attention seeker.
Often times when people speak up about their struggles they get shamed by their peers for being “attention seekers.” I’ve been called that a couple times just for writing about it. The honest truth is that if someone is talking about their anxiety then they just want people to understand. They want to know that what they feel is okay and that things can be adjusted so that they feel comfortable. We don’t talk about our biggest insecurities for attention, but rather validation of our feelings.
- You’re crazy for having anxiety.
Having a mental illness does not mean you or crazy or insane. It simply means your brain is wired a bit differently. Every person experiences anxiety and stress. It does not mean you are crazy, simply human.
- Anxiety isn’t real. Just stop thinking that.
This is a big one, people with anxiety cannot just turn off their brains. They cannot just stop thinking a bad thought, but instead have to try their best to retrain their brains. It’s almost unstoppable and can be very hard to control. You don’t have to understand it, but you do have to respect it.
- You don’t need medicine for something you can’t see.
Medicine is not simply a happy pill that makes everything bad go away, it is a way to help cope with an imbalanced brain. People with diabetes take insulin, when someone has an allergic reaction they inject an epi pen. It’s all similar.
Anxiety is real and can make everyday tasks extremely difficult. Don’t encourage the stigma, but learn about what makes mental illnesses so hard. We can be the voices to change society and help others to speak up and get help. Welcome every person with open arms and understanding, it means more to them than you will ever know. It may just save a life.