But you don’t look sick?!

Hey folks,

Back again for another enthralling post!

I’ve been asked a question –
Do you get the ‘just get over it, pull yourself together’ type comments from some people and how do you cope with them if so? Folk that really don’t understand.

Truth is, sadly I do. Along with “But you look so well!” or “You don’t look sick?!”. It’s all too common with mental illness I’m afraid to say.

There is a lot of stigma attached to it these days, and a lot of people don’t want to believe mental illness exists. It’s a very taboo subject, that a lot don’t like to discuss. Us mentally ill folk, struggle with these comments; that’s because we know it’s real. We know it exists, and we feel it every single day.

Here’s some pictures I found relating to this –

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And this is my reaction to it –

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The stigma we face, can often make recovery a lot harder. As it is support we need, not disbelief. We need people to believe our problems are real, not imaginary. We need people to understand that we can’t just click our fingers and be okay. It’s just not that simple.

Mental illness is far more common than people would like to think. It affects thousands of people in the UK, and their friends, family, work colleagues and society in general. Here is some facts for you:

  • One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.
  • Around one in ten children experience mental health problems.
  • Depression affects around one in 12 of the whole population.
  • Rates of self-harm in the UK are the highest in Europe at 400 per 100,000.
  • 450 million people world-wide have a mental health problem.

Most people who experience mental health problems do recover fully, or at least are able to live with and manage them, especially if they get help early on.

But even though so many people are affected, there is a strong social stigma attached to mental ill health, and people with mental health problems can experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives.

Many people’s problems are made worse by the stigma and discrimination they experience – from society, but also from families, friends and employers.

Nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives.

Also, people with mental health problems, are amongst the least likely of any group with a long-term health condition or disability to –

  • find work
  • be in a steady, long-term relationship
  • live in decent housing
  • be socially included in mainstream society.

This is because society in general has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. Many people believe that people with mental ill health are violent and dangerous, when in fact they are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming other people. I can remember being considered a danger by someone who I thought was a friend, because I self harmed. They saw it as I was going to cut them or something too. That really hurt me, and needless to say, that “friend” is no longer a part of my life.

Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone’s mental health problems, and delay or impede their getting help and treatment, and their recovery. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental ill health. So stigma and discrimination can trap people in a cycle of illness. Withdrawing away from society is a common thing for the mentally ill. I myself, have been guilty of doing so. At my lowest points I don’t go out; I shut the world out completely. This can be made so much worse if a person has no one out there who believes in them, and are there to support them.

The situation is exacerbated by the media. Media reports often link mental illness with violence, or portray people with mental health problems as dangerous, criminal, evil, or very disabled and unable to live normal, fulfilled lives. When this is really far from the case. Research has shown that the best way to challenge the stigma and stereotyping, is for people to experience first-hand, through contact with those with mental illness.

There are a number of campaigns, fighting to break the stigma of mental illness, such as Time To Change. Please click the link to find out more of their work.

Since becoming unwell, I have really found out who my true friends are; they are the ones who have stuck by me no matter what, and have researched my condition to find out more about it. They are the ones who understand that I really am sick, despite what I look like on the outside. And above all, they are the ones who I know won’t give up on me when the going gets tough. They know who they are, and are most likely reading this blog right now! Thank you, all of you.

I also must say a thank you to all 127 of my followers, for sticking with me, sometimes when I’ve had very little to say! Some of you have only recently joined me, others have been here since the beginning; but each and every one of you mean a lot to me, and I appreciate your support and comments. Even silent support, is good support. 🙂

So, I hope this has answered the question! I’m still happy to answer any other questions people may have in future blog posts. But for now, that’s me signing out for the night! Take care and stay strong folks, and whenever you can, help to break the stigma of mental illness in any way you can! It would mean the world to me. Thank you.

Until next time……

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