Putting an End to the Stigma of Mental Health

Ending the Stigma

As painful as this may read, and as I look back on my life, there have been times when I cried for help but there was no response.

The Pain of… Going Unnoticed

As a young boy in the early 1980s, there was — and likely still is today — a stigma associated with mental health. If you were someone who struggled socially, society would push you aside as an outcast. If you were someone who showed even a hint of weakness, the bullies would pick this up like a bloodhound tracking down her owner’s prey. And if you were someone who society considered as special needs, you were labeled as such and segregated from the rest of the students. Yes, even in an all-white school in the 1970s and 1980s we had segregation. Not based on color but based on societal class and the stigma associated with mental health and intellectual disability.

When I did cry out for help, I quickly learned in elementary school who I could trust and who I could not. A speech therapist, who I tried to confide in simply brushed me off as someone seeking special attention. And my first, 1st-grade teacher also tried to place me in special education classes.

Referred to as SPEDs, derogatory slang for some needing special education due to an intellectual disability, I could see firsthand what it felt to be labeled as special. All I knew for certain was that most of the kids my age smirked whenever I would enter a room.

The Pain Of… Battling Depression Alone

The stigma cast upon me by others played a huge part in my silence. This stigma led me to believe reaching out for help would cause more harm than good. So I battled in secret.

Here me out on this one as I have no frame of reference. I can only imagine that fighting depression alone could be somewhat loosely relatable to that of a prisoner of war. All alone, in a dark hole, fighting to survive on your own. You have no weapons — no help from family. You are starving — no help from friends. And you are begging for scraps — no help from society. This is how it feels to battle depression alone. Begging for help to fight off the demons, yet no one listens.

Sadly, and even in today’s woke world, there is still a stigma placed on those suffering from depression. And with that stigma, those who seek help are looked at as nothing but attention seekers. Trust me on this, as an introvert, I seek no attention whatsoever. I would prefer to be hiding in a dark corner.

The Pain of… Falling into Despair

Let’s take a look at another example of how I feel on my worse days. Imagine having trouble breathing. And to make matters worse, you have not been able to truly take a good breath in a long time. It has been such a long time that you have forgotten how it felt to breathe. With a feeling of the world crashing around you, while trying to catch even a small glimpse of air, you fall into a hole the size of Montana. All while just trying to catch your breath.

Now, this is a very grim mental image to take in, however for someone who is suffering from depression, I can attest that these feelings are real. Very real. And if you do not believe me, then that is fine. You do you, as the saying goes.

Closing Thoughts

Please keep this in mind if you find yourself questioning someone’s cries for help.

I implore you to never distrust or disregard someone’s plea for help. You never know when someone’s cry for support could have been the only time they were able to muster the courage to seek out help. And please watch for those signs and listen for those cries for help. You may be the one person that someone confides in about their mental health. Your decision to ignore or accept their cry for help could be the very difference between life and death.

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If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.

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