Mental Illness: Breaking the Stigma

Yesterday I was getting my groceries wrung up by a young man who seemed to be coughing a great deal.  He was using the “vampire” method to keep me away from his cough as much as possible, but immunosuppressed me was a bit uncomfortable.

“Bad cold you got there,” I remarked.  “Yes, and I can’t take any cold medicine for it because I am Bipolar.”  I was shocked, in a pleasant sort of way, that he would be that forthcoming with me, a stranger.  I told him that my husband has A-typical Bipolar and that I too was being evaluated for it.

“Who isn’t bipolar these days?” I joked.  When I was done paying I praised him for being so open and willing to talk about his mental illness.

The thing is, the times that I have confided in someone that I have mental illness or that Tyler has anxiety and most likely OCD, I inevitably hear back from the other person, “I have anxiety too and I take Xanax for it” or “My husband has…” or “My child has…”

If so many of us have Mental Illnesses, why are so many of us still not talking about it, why are so many of us still so afraid to admit this?

The man with whom I conversed with yesterday was probably in his early 20’s. Perhaps his generation is comfortable talking about it, just as if it were a disease such as Diabetes or Arthritis, and…isn’t it?

I am liking the way things are heading.  How can you help?  By not being afraid to mention mental illness to people if it seems appropriate to the conversation.  Do an experiment and see if you get a “Me too” back, like I have.

The key to breaking the stigma of Mental Illness is to just keep talking, blogging, tweeting, communicating about it!

I hope you will join me in spreading the word and hope I have encouraged you to not be afraid any more.


Photo credit by VinothChandar.

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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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