Why Sharing Stories About Mental Illness Is The Only Way To End The Stigma

Posted on July 14, 2016 in Society

By Shivangi Adani:

You catch the flu, you can take a day off from work. What do you do when you get a panic attack in the middle of work? When you catch the flu, you’re told to take care of yourself, rest, drink hot tea or pop a pill. When you have a mental illness, firstly, you’re hesitant to even tell someone about it and if you do, you’re told to not overthink. It’ll all be fine. We cut down on sugar, follow healthy diets, join the gym all for our physical wellbeing. What do we do for our mind? Nothing.

Why this difference between physical illnesses and mental illnesses? Someone said that “there is no difference between my brain being unable to make the right levels of serotonin and my pancreas being unable to make the right amount of insulin”. Then why is it difficult for people to understand that the brain needs as much attention as the rest of the body?

Today, the world is not in a happy place. People are more stressed, more worked up, unhappier, angrier. The World Health Organisation estimates that each year approximately one million people die by committing suicide. If you are battling a mental illness, you have been told, “It’s all in your head,” more than once in this battle. As more and more people are coming forward and being candid about the issue with family and friends, most of them still feel that they are not understood. The conversation around mental health has gained momentum, however, the stigma still persists.

There are multiple platforms with helpline numbers, information about mental health and so on but a major reason behind the stigma is that those going through it aren’t able to speak up and connect with the rest. A root cause of aggravated mental illness is not talking about it in the first place. When feelings and thoughts are kept to yourself, it affects your mental health. Some people become rude, violent, introverted and so on. Their entire struggle goes into thinking that they’re alone, nobody understands, nobody gets it. They feel misunderstood, uncared for and lonely.

Amidst the stigma, a newborn community, Of Grey Skies is forming a community of people who can connect and share their stories of how they are dealing with a mental illness, how they have overcome it and if they are a parent/relative/friend of someone with a mental illness, how they have been there for them.

Stories have the power to connect and make you feel less lonely. This looks like a tiny hope in this world of chaos, stigma and non-acceptance, where people directly or indirectly affected by mental illness can support each other and be the ones to take charge in breaking the stigma and feeling understood.

Featured and Banner image for representation only. Source: Google.