“Well, why don’t you just try focusing on the positives?”
“Why can’t you just, be a little happier?”
“How are you depressed, your life isn’t that bad?”
“Anxiety and depression aren’t real, you just need to feel happier.”
“You’re too depressed all the time, it rubs off on us if we spend too much time together.”
These are just a small sample of the thoughts and feelings of millions of people around the world who have friends or loved ones with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety.
There is a certain, difficult to break stigma that comes with a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or any other mental illness. Stigmas that surround issues like these are neither beneficial to the sufferers nor those who have friends who suffer from mental illness.
The stigmas are the reason that some people feel genuinely uncomfortable around those with depression. They feel as though every last mentally ill person could be at a tipping point, and any word or phrase, something from “you’ve got some ketchup on your shirt,” to “your shirt’s on backwards,” could set them off, spiraling into a deeper depression. And while depression is hardly a one-size-fits-all illness, it’s incredibly important to realize that it’s entirely possible for people to be fully-functioning members of society while they live with otherwise debilitating mental illnesses like anxiety or depression.
Some of the most successful people that this planet has seen walk on its earth have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Astronaut Bull Aldrin, talk-show host Ellen Degeneres and billionaire author JK Rowling have been diagnosed with depression, while
The stigma that depressed people walk around with their head slumping all day couldn’t be further from the truth. Think back to the tragic death of comedian Robin Williams. Williams, on the surface was affable, jovial and always laughing–not the picture of a depressed person that we’ve come to expect. This is part of that stigma, and another resounding reason it needs to be broken.
The social stigma imposed upon those who are suffering from a mental illness–regardless of what illness–can have profoundly negative effects on the way they live their lives. It contributes to an overall untrue set of beliefs towards those with mental illness and makes the social stigma a vicious cycle, harder and harder to break with every instance of stigmatization and labeling.
There is an undeniable and scientifically studied stigma that surrounds sufferers of mental illness that can prevent them from experiencing life in the same way as those without mental illness. It can affect their employment, their housing, their social and personal relationships.
It’s time to end the stigmas that surround mental illness. Learn about illness, learn what it really means to be mentally ill, and educate yourself on how you can help break that sitgma.