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June 23, 2021

Why The Stigma of Mental Illness Keeps Us Silent

Photo by Yasin Emir Akbaş on Pexels.

I’m sitting in front of my laptop, scared to death of the thoughts that keep circling in my mind.

Nobody loves me. I’m worthless. I’m more of a problem than a human being. Everyone would be so much better off without me. Life is too hard; I can’t cope anymore. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I just want some peace. Close to fifty years on this earth and I just can’t keep fighting this anymore.

I’m tired of therapy, of medications. Years and years of this nonsense. But those are my only options.

I become desperate to talk to someone who gets it. Someone to talk me down from the ledge. The person that I always turned to, my mother, is gone now. Two years without her comforting voice, her unconditional love.

I’m alone with this now. Nobody wants to deal with me and my depression. My suicidal thoughts. Why can’t I just decide to be happy? It’s not that hard, right?

I’m weak. I can’t hang. (Pun intended.) Life is difficult for everyone. What makes me so damn special? Pick your ass up off the floor and eat something decent! Wash the dishes. Pay those bills. Be grateful that you are still alive.

I reach out to one of my friends who understands but she’s not available. I decide to write a post on my blog. Promptly take it down for fear that everyone will think that I’m seeking attention.

Which in a way, I am.

I forget that a few people can still read what I wrote if they’ve signed up for emails every time that I write something.

A blog friend, someone that I’ve known for years messages me within a few minutes. She gets it. She knows exactly what to say.

A support group on Facebook comes to my aid. They are all kind, supportive and wonderful. I’ve never met these people but they are now my lifeline.

Because I am ashamed to tell anyone in my family what I am feeling. They’d believe that I am being a drama queen. I’ve felt the stigma since I was a young girl. Back then, we didn’t talk about this sort of thing. We kept it on the down-low. That was what I was taught my entire life.

The stigma of mental illness will always exist because those who don’t have it are usually speechless, angry, or disgusted.

This fact both angers and makes me hurt deep down in my heart. This is why I stay silent. I keep it all to myself. I could win an acting award for best female performance in a dark comedy.

No, I’m fine. Really. I’m good, I promise. Don’t worry about me.

I’m so exhausted. Yes, from fighting the depression and ugly, self-destructive thoughts that invade my chemically imbalanced brain. Yet I’m also defeated by the feeling of shame that I’ve had since I was a kid. Because there are so few people that I know who don’t take me seriously when I tell them that I’m struggling with my mental health.


That’s how it’ll go my entire life, I’ll always have episodes like this. It is inevitable. From past experience, I’ve been treated like a clump of dog shit on a pair of expensive shoes by some people when I’ve told them how I was feeling.

Or possibly even worse, indifference and avoidance.

We see memes on Facebook about ending the stigma, telling people like myself to reach out. This is difficult to do when often, our hand gets slapped away.

I cry, hugging myself, rocking back and forth. I am frightened. I don’t really want to die. Innately, I understand that life is a precious gift. That knowledge becomes foggy during a bout of depression. All I want is reassurance that people care and are willing to put in the empathy to help me save my life.

Even people that I’ve never met before. Sometimes, the right words on my computer screen give me enough hope to hang on for one more day.

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