It’s a highly anticipated fact that people within the mental health community have to constantly fight against the stigmas that are constantly being pushed onto them by society. Most of this stigmas make mental illnesses seem as if they’re not a big deal, and make numerous jokes about them. This type of stigma causes those suffering with such things, as mental illnesses to have feelings of shame and guilt, therefore creating the power to destroy someones recovery process and be potentially harmful to their mental health.
There is a particular stigma that I know affects a lot of people on a regular basis. The ‘not sick enough’ stigma. I, personally, have been diagnosed with more than one mental issue although I am still highly functioning, meaning that I am able to have a life that appears to be ‘normal’ to outsiders. However, people like to assume that because I’m not currently under a psychiatrist or not in a mental hospital, that I must be okay. That I’m ‘not sick enough’. Comparing someones mental health to another is horrifically toxic to them. How can someone judge who has a mental illness, compare them to another and decide who has it worse? Do we all have to be sitting in bed in a hospital to be ill enough to have our mental illnesses validated by society?
I get a lot of puzzled looked when people find out I’m mentally ill. They often believe that I’m making it up due to the fact that in their eyes, I don’t seem like it. Some people have said that they would never have guessed that I’m ill and seems as though I’m fairly stable. Some people just wave off my attributes as me just being shy, for example, until they find our that I have anxiety issues and then they grace me with unwanted sympathy. Just because I am able to work through my struggles, it doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling. Just because I fall apart behind closed doors rather than in front of preying eyes, it doesn’t mean anything less than the truth. This the struggle that people like me have to go through every day of their lives.
People have an idea that has been created in their minds of what a mentally ill person looks like. Someone with bad grades, no social life. No hobbies or passions. An emo/goth will wrists kissed by a thousand blades. An introvert that cries constantly and has no love life. Which is why, when the popular, beautiful girl, who rules the schools hallways commits suicide, everyone treats it as a surprise and that they didn’t see it coming. This why the handsome young athlete with a promising future leaves the track team because his anxiety is getting too much to handle, no one understands and believes that the issue is something else. These are the type of people who too often slip through the net. The type of people who go without help until it’s perhaps too late. Family, friends, acquaintances.. no one notices it so high functioning mentally ill people go years without ever receiving the help that they require until they get so bad that it gets the point someone notices how much their struggling.
The one thing that really hurts is when nobody believes that you are mentally ill until a medical professional says otherwise. Mental illnesses do not discriminate. So many people have to deal with mental illnesses on their own with so many people telling them that it is nonexistent, forcing the person to get worse before they can even begin to get any better. People are being overlooked and are slipping through the net simply because they don’t fit the mold of what society believes a mentally person is. Making light and jokes of someone’s mental health for the pure fact that they aren’t about to leap off the golden gate bridge is exactly what pushes people to that point in time.
It’s about time we stopped allowing the struggles of mentally ill people who are high functioning go unnoticed. We need to hear their stories and stop forcing them to get sicker and to the point of no return. We need to care for all mentally ill people, regardless of how bad they seem.