The Blog

Mental Health Stigma Is Still Alive

People keep insisting that the stigma of mental health problems are long gone. From institutions saying it's okay to speak up about your mental health if you are having issues to health professionals putting on an awkward smile not really sure how to tackle to problem.

Sure you can now tell people that you're not okay or that there's something really causing you to struggle but it doesn't mean they keep treating you in the same way as they did before. Many remain pleasant to your face and include you when physically around but when you're not their they make little attempt to be involved with you in any way.

As somebody that has battled with mental health a lot over the last decade of my life I've spotted so many different types of people and reactions. With my most recent and possibly worst struggle for a fair few years I decided to tell people I viewed as friends about it. I wouldn't hold back if I was having a bad day and it seemed to be going well.

But then I realised if I wasn't around people would rarely check on me to see if I was alive let alone okay. I wouldn't get invited to things, one friend citing they thought I'd rather stay and home, curled up in bed, crying to myself and eating bad food (bitchy comment or what!).

In reality me telling people about it was wanting the exact opposite to happen. Normally my mental health meant I pushed people away from me so I thought telling them about it might mean I could keep a few of them around without me burning too many bridges. I wanted to be invited to things, whether it be a coffee, a pint, a day shopping, to the theatre, a general walk around or something. I wanted people to keep providing their silly little jokes and comments on life and the world because they brightened my day up and even if I barely responded they brought me joy.

That pretty much all instantly stopped though and there I was after revealing all my cards completely alone. As the days went on by and various things became increasingly challenging it became more lonely. I added the hatred of myself for thinking that anybody cared about me enough to stick by me to my long list of anxieties, worries and problems. I slowly became exactly what that person said and would just spend the day crying in bed (or making it to the sofa if I was having a good day), either barely eating or eating everything in sight and watching TV or just staring into space. You know even a skype call or sitting in silence watching TV and eating pizza together would have been cool, yknow, like friends do.

I quickly became ashamed of myself because I realised that if I hadn't told anybody about it then they'd just think I was at home, being civilised and doing things 'normal' people do. I wanted to be somebody else, I wanted to be that person people used to talk to and invite to things and treat nicely but it seemed further out of my reach than ever.

Even now, despite still having a lot of unresolved issues and plenty of bad days, when I have good days I don't have those people I viewed as my friends talking to me or inviting me to things. I'm now just constantly alone and I'm never going to be able to put some of the demons I have to bed if I'm not able to tackle them by interacting with people (seriously interacting with people has always caused me massive anxiety, despite what my journalism work may suggest to you, but that's always going to remain if I'm left in a room alone to wallow in self-pity).

And I'm at that stage of trying to recover and just muddle through the days where I want to reach out to people but I simply can't.

I feel more isolated than ever for discussing my mental health problems. I wish I didn't have these problems. I wish I hadn't discussed them. I wish there was no stigma. Nothing is ever easy in life but it would be nice if it could be a bit easier just once.