#EndTheStigma is a hashtag you’ll see quite frequently if you follow anyone who’s interested in mental health on Twitter. This is great, and I really believe people need to be able to speak about this without feeling judged, and those who aren’t experiencing problems with their mental health should be able to ask people how they’re doing without worrying about how to approach the subject.
While I think this is important, there’s another subject which I think is just as central to recovery. Ending the stigma we put on ourselves.
Sometimes our mental health can make it difficult for us to keep up with others in our lives: we may be unable to work full time, go into public places alone, or may even be unable to take care of ourselves at times. There is always potential for us to blame ourselves for this, to think that we’re useless. For us to believe that our mental illness defines us, and that we’re nothing more than our broken brains.
This isn’t true.
If someone had a broken leg, would you blame them for being unable to go jogging?
If someone had Asthma, would you think it was their own fault if they had an Asthma attack?
If someone else had a mental illness which prevented them from doing these things would you blame them? Would you think they were utterly useless?
Probably not, I certainly wouldn’t.
I have an illness which can sometimes affect my ability to do things which many people would find easy to do. It’s called Borderline Personality Disorder, but there’s nothing wrong with my personality. When I love, I love hard. I feel a huge amount of empathy for other people which means that I’m always willing to help those in need. I put my all into everything I do and work hard, resulting in the best possible standards in every project I take part in. Sometimes I’m a bit too impulsive and do silly things, but that can be fun – it’s good to be a little out of control sometimes.
Basically what I’m saying is that my mental health does not define me. Sure, it’s a part of me and I have to fight it every day, but it’s taught me some important things about myself too. I’m not useless because my mental illness makes things harder for me – and neither are you! Cut yourself some slack.