Aside

Stigma

I have no problem blogging about my mental illness. I have no problem tweeting about my mental illness. But I can’t talk about it on Facebook. And talking to people in person about it is leading to less than awesome results.

Why is it that I feel so accepted by complete strangers all over the continent, and feel so judged by family members and friends? Obviously if you’re reading this, you are not one of them. There are people I have told about the blog who don’t want to read it and those are some of the people I feel most judged by.

Dealing with a mental illness is hard. It’s awful. On top of the shittiness of the illness itself you get this:

First I told myself that I was wrong. I didn’t even tell anyone else that I thought I might have a problem.

“I can’t be depressed, everyone gets sad.”

“Maybe if I just ignore it, it’ll go away.”

“But I don’t need medication.”

“I’m not as bad as that person.”

Once I accepted it as a mental illness (which is a very big step by the way, and really helped me feel better) I had people telling me that I was wrong.

“Just stop worrying.”

“But you’re so happy all the time.”

“It’s just a phase.”

“Just will yourself to be happy.”

I have a hard time because I’m a naturally talkative, sharing person. I hate keeping secrets. I don’t want to be ashamed to be who I am. I want my close friends and family to know what’s going on in my life, but this is sharing that is not going over well.

I get that people want me to be happy. I get that my friends want to help. I get that many of them haven’t had the support that they required when they went through similar things. Maybe they thing I don’t need help because they think that they themselves don’t need/deserve help. I don’t know. I’m getting help right now so that things don’t get worse. That’s what happens when you ignore your problems, they get worse.

I want everyone’s reaction to be, “Oh Emily, I’m so glad you’re getting help. It must be so good to feel like you’re getting somewhere and putting a name to your feelings. Let me know how I can support you.” That would be really nice.

Next week I start a 12-18 month program working with a psychologist, a counsellor and my family doctor. I’m so excited that I’ll be getting some long-term help and maybe make some real progress on this depression/anxiety, so that every time it comes up I don’t have to go to a different counsellor. I’m also very, very thankful that this is a program that my work pays for, and I don’t even need to use money from my benefits.

I won’t be telling a lot of people about it, but I’ll be blogging about it. And probably tweeting about it.

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