I just read this article about the stigmas and misconceptions some people have toward mental illness. Although a little preachy, the author addressed some issues people with mental illnesses face.
In a world where being an individual is praised but being "different" makes you weird, mental illness is an awkward thing for people to deal with.
Having experienced it first-hand and knowing others who's lives have been affected by various mental illnesses, I know how it feels. You get cancer and people understand. You have a stroke and people understand. You get the flu and people avoid you for days, but they understand. You "get" bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorder and people don't always understand. If you're depressed, you need to "get over it".
Ok, ok I'll stop. Who's being preachy now? ;) But really, I was inspired to type this because of all the outrageous comments I read on this article. Some people feel the way I do, but others waved it off and basically spewed out every ignorant thing I've heard people say about mental illnesses. They obviously don't know too much about the subject and the debilitating effects.
I wonder if someone who tells a person with depression to just "get over it" would tell a person with cancer the same thing? Probably not. Can't we look at it that way? (Controversial material to follow): I mean, some people with health problems could've prevented it; alcohol causes liver disease, sun exposure causes skin cancer, fatty foods and a sedentary lifestyle cause heart attacks and diabetes type 2.
I'm not out to point the finger at these particular people, but I am trying to point out the fact that we feel sympathy for these people who's bodies get sick for whatever reason. But what about those with a mental illness? (Your brain can get sick, too, you know.) Why is it often so difficult to understand?
My hope is that people will educate themselves and stop and think when they notice someone who is a little "different". Have sympathy for those who are suffering. We all have problems. We are all on the sometimes rocky journey of life. We can pull together and be understanding and helpful instead of judgemental and afraid.