For many people with mental illness, mental health medication and recovery go hand in hand. Unfortunately, psychiatric medication comes with a lot of stigma and stress. There are a lot of people who don't understand how psychiatric medication really works or why it's so important for many people in recovery, and their stigmatized view of medication can stick in our brains long after we've heard them say something.
Stigma - Recovering from Mental Illness
Health anxiety used to be called hypochondria, and it's a highly stigmatized mental health condition. Instead of being taken seriously, health anxiety is often reduced to being "dramatic." I have dealt with health anxiety on and off for the last seven years, and I want to share my experience so others won't have to feel as alone as I have.
Psychiatric medication is a tricky topic in the world of mental health for a lot of reasons. These drugs have a dark history of being used for the convenience of doctors rather than the wellbeing of patients, the pharmaceutical industry makes a huge profit off of them, and they come with a lot of very negative mental health stigma.
Let's face it: there are a lot of aspects of mental illness that can be traumatic, and mental health misdiagnosis can also be traumatic. What happens when we don't even have the mental illness we think we have? I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder six years ago, found out that diagnosis was incorrect two years ago, and now a huge part of my recovery is dealing with the fallout and trauma of that misdiagnosis.
Recently, I've learned that behavior that is convenient for others is not always healthy behavior for me. I was taught at a young age that my natural reactions to things were "overdramatic" or "wrong" and so I started to hide my real reactions and feelings. I got very good at doing what I was "supposed" to do and being the way I felt I was "supposed" to be. Over time, I became much more concerned with making sure my behavior was convenient for others rather than healthy for me.
Is it possible to be grateful for mental illness? Some days, I hate having mental health issues and would do almost anything to make them go away forever. But other days, on my better recovery days, I'm almost grateful for my mental illness. It feels weird to be grateful for something that makes me so miserable so often, but at the same time, I think it's the natural result of living with a chronic condition. After all, the reality is that I can't make my mental illness go away, so I might as well find some silver linings.
Halloween mental health stigma can be especially harmful and offensive. For some reason, many people still believe "asylum" themes are appropriate for their haunted houses and costumes like "escaped mental patient" are fun because they get to wear a straightjacket. I believe stigmatizing mental illness in your Halloween celebration only serves to ostracize and insult an already vulnerable group of people, and it is time for it to end.
The stigma of attention-seeking behavior is everywhere. How many times have you heard someone dismissively say something like, "They're just doing it for the attention."? We talk about attention-seeking behavior like it's a low, manipulative trick when in reality, it's just the manifestation of a deeply-human need.
It's really okay to be lazy sometimes. Many of us with mental illness have been called lazy at one time or another due to the symptoms of our mental illness. When people don't understand our symptoms, they often try to shame us into simply not being mentally ill anymore by saying we're just being lazy or aren't trying hard enough. "Lazy" then transforms from a simple descriptive word to a powerful tool of shame. "Lazy" becomes the worst thing we could possibly be, and many of us avoid it at any cost. But the truth is, those of us with mental illness can be just as lazy as anybody else.
Unfortunately, stigma is real, and it's dangerous. It is visible in public, and it comes full circle affecting patients and professionals alike. Stigma keeps mental illness in the dark and misunderstood, and often prevents sufferers from seeking the help they need.