5 reasons having a Mental Health Condition is nothing to be ashamed of…


Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

May is BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) Awareness Month. BPD is a mental health condition that comes with a lot of stigma attached to it. Also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, as this name suggests it is a condition characterised by unstable emotions, you can read more about what BPD is here. For now I just wanted to share ‘5 reasons having a mental health condition is nothing to be ashamed of’ to help raise awareness of the difficulties of living with a mental health problem…

We all know that having a mental health condition brings a lot of stigma and discrimination towards those people who are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with anything from depression to Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia or Bipolar.

With one in four people being diagnosed with a mental health problem at some point in their life, chances are you know someone who has one even if you don’t have one yourself!

Some conditions come with more stigma, prejudice and taboo than others but whichever it is the ‘mental’ label automatically means we often feel the need to cover up for our illness and feel ashamed to admit to our problems. However, doing this can actually make things harder for us.

If people don’t know how can they understand?

If we do not correct the misconceptions how can people learn the truth?

If we hide our mental health problems how can we get help and support to get better?

The answer to all of the above is that we need to stand up, be counted, give mental health problems a voice and educate those around us that having a mental health problem does not mean we a stupid, thick, weird, dangerous and someone to be avoided.

In order to do this we need to overcome our own shame and fear. So, here is a list of 5 reasons having a mental health condition is nothing to be ashamed of. After reading I hope you will be brave and tell someone you have never told before that you have a mental health problem – not for sympathy, but to educate them that you are a ‘normal’ person too, and that one day it could be them so sharing is caring. Stand up and be counted! you might like it!! ;)

1. You are not mad, bad or dangerous – having a mental health condition does not mean you are a fundamentally flawed individual who is a risk to others. The majority of mental health conditions actually mean you are at greater risk of doing yourself harm than other people. You only have to look at examples such as Anders Behring Breivik – the Norwegian Mass Murderer to see that sane people are responsible for the most heinous of crimes, some may claim he was insane but that is clearly not the case, and even if it was insanity is different from having a treatable mental illness. Yes, there are cases of people with mental illness hurting or killing people, but often issues with poor care and treatment of the individual are at fault and even though these cases hit the headlines big-time they are no more frequent than the number of attacks carried out by the general population!

2. It is not your fault – You didn’t ask to have a mental illness, you didn’t choose it, you didn’t make it happen.  Life events and experiences such as trauma, abuse and upbringing play a large part in why people develop mental illnesses. On top of that you may be predisposed to suffering due to biological and genetic factors. What ever the cause of your illness it is not your fault, all of these are things outside of your control. Nothing you did or have done can change this or could have prevented your illness.

3. You need help not punishment – When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness people can drift away, not knowing how to handle it or what to say. This is the worst thing people can do, the love, support and encouragement of those who care about you is all the more vital when a diagnosis is received. People with mental health problems need to be treated like normal, with compassion and understanding. They don’t need to be treated differently or hear crap like “pull yourself together” or “chin-up”. Backing off and abandoning people when they are struggling is only going to add to their problems as they struggle to deal with your behaviour on top of dealing with treatment, medication and stigma elsewhere. Friends and family should just ‘be there’ no-one is saying you have to change because someone you love has a diagnosis, just accept it and be who you have always been in their life that way both of you will be healthier, happier, and more productive.

4. You are not alone –  As stated above, 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health condition at some point in their lives. So the chances are you know someone who has one or will suffer from one yourself. If you are struggling to understand your condition, diagnosis or not getting mush support from your health care providers there are lots of other places you can get help and find others like yourself who you can share your concerns with, learn from and support each other.  From charitable organisations like MIND, Emergence Plus and Rethink, to online forums like The Black Dog Tribe, facebook groups, blogs (like this one) and many other online and offline support and information services are available.

5.  It does not mean you are a failure – The majority of people with mental illnesses manage to maintain happy, fulfilled, productive lives. You may need to take some time out of work to improve your condition to the point where you can return and yes some people never manage this, but you can still lead a full life. Your past achievements do not vanish because you are unwell and you still have the rest of your life ahead of you to achieve whatever you put your mind to. First of all you need to take the time to make sure you are well enough, through treatment or just some time-out. there is still so much potential in you, you can be a success. You may wish to adjust your goals to make them more manageable with your illness but you can do so much, if you want to!

-//-

If you want to help raise awareness of mental health conditions there are lots of ways to get involved and make a difference check out these links for some examples…

Mind

Rethink

Time-to-Change

Emergence Plus

Black Dog Tribe

TWIM

Mental Health Writers Guild

If you have any other links please share them in the comments below :)

44 comments on “5 reasons having a Mental Health Condition is nothing to be ashamed of…

  1. It seems like those who have no reason to feel shame feel it the most, and those who should feel it the most do not see a reason to. It’s like the wise man ever self questioning, and the fool always self assured. Everyone is different, so if you feel quirky, eccentric, off-centered, unique or otherwise then you need not be ashamed. To be vulnerable, and to be imperfect is to be human. Humans are irrational creatures, just some of us are aware of it and many who should be aren’t. I’d rather be aware of my weaknesses and learn how to adapt myself than to be hopelessly unaware of my own flaws.

    I’d argue that all us have some form of psychological health consideration, and many of us are all to aware of the difference knowing that made for us. Indeed most of us could benefit from taking care of both our mind and body but so many neglect the former. To me, it’s only through destigmatizing the human condition that we’ll ever really be able to find our centers. The feelings we don’t want to face, nor the fears that plague us will disappear simply because we ignore them. Honesty, candor, and humbleness in the face of our unique human conditions is the only pathway to the future. Anything less and we squander our true potential.

  2. Hey Busy Gal!
    {waves}
    I had no idea there was BPD awareness anything, cool. Thanks for posting about it.

    Curiosity question for you, sorry if you covered it somewhere I have yet to peruse here, how do you feel about medications for BPD? I have a family member who swears by their lithium, and granted I can never know what it’s like to live between their ears, I really don’t see the massive difference they seem to cling to…

    • Hi Wednesday :D

      I haven’t really covered medication before, due to not having been even offered any myself (not that I have been offered any help at all actually! :/) but I think it probably depends on the symptoms each individual suffers with most, for some people medication may not help at all, some will swear by it, some think it does not help at all, and others will think a combination of medication to help with certain symptoms and therapy for underlying issues is the best approach. Personally I think a combo of meds and therapy is probably the best overall. Even if others do not see the benefit so long as the person receiving the treatment actually feels it helps in some way then that’s good, but if they don’t think it is helping they should consider other options. Hope this helps? :)

      • Never been offered meds? Interesting… perhaps our differing geographic locations plays a part in that…
        but you say you think a combo is probably best overall?

        Minor mindbend… from what I have read of your accounts you have experienced more severe symptoms than my family member; I would have thought they would have been offered to you by now… hmmm…

        Not that I am encouraging you to take drugs, please don’t read that between the lines of what I’m saying! ;-)

        I’ve been perusing beyondmeds.com and evaluating my own take on mental health meds just so I can offer an informed opinion when interacting with my family member, and others I may come across.

      • Yeah, unfortunately the reason I have not been offered meds or any other treatment (I’m paying privately for therapy at the moment) is due to being on a waiting list since my diagnosis in 2010 – it is disgusting that I have waited so long to get any help!

        I have suffered a lot of severe symptoms but many of those are not necessarily things I think meds can help with, although I think it might be worth me trying some kind of mood stabiliser and anti-anxiety meds. Although with my private therapy and a lot of self-help work I wouldn’t be surprised I have got a lot of it under control on my own before I even get NHS help! :/

        I think it is good to research on the meds. A couple of fellow bloggers who have meds write about them at times so what they write might be helpful to you – The Quiet Borderline – http://quietbpd.wordpress.com and Gypsy – http://gypsy116.wordpress.com/

      • Waitlisted for TWO YEARS?!!! OMG! That’s an autrociously long waitlist for mental health treatments… Wow… just wow…

        Glad to hear you’re making progress and sound optimistic!

        Thanks for the links ;-)

  3. I’ve shared this on my “normal” Facebook as well as my mental health one – I’d be preaching to the converted by only posting it on my MH one.

    I am not ashamed of having BPD but I must admit I am often worried as to other people’s reactions to knowing about it. Still, if they are the sort of person who will start to treat me differently/avoid me/whatever, cos I have it, they’re probably not someone I want to know anyway!!

  4. Great post. These days I think people are more and more accepting of what is not “normal”. IS ANYONE “normal”? At the time I grew up there was far less acceptance of so many things. Granted, we still have far to go. I know it first hand when I’m out with my autistic son and he does something “odd” but hey, he rocks. You come across as strong in your posts and I love that you share your experiences to help others.

  5. Great post!

    I actually wasn’t ever ashamed of my mental health issues. I’ve hated having something that clearly other people didn’t have but I never thought that how people treated me went beyond me. I thought I just knew stupid people (and I did) so maybe being naive like that protected me during a time I needed it

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  7. Reblogged this on Lara: On the Weigh Down and commented:
    For all my fellow survivors, May is Mental Health Month and this blog entry is a wonderful way of looking at “just another part of your life that needs to be managed”. It’s taking away the stigma and taking care of yourself to get the most out of your life. Definitely checkout the “The Black Dog Tribe” online forum and try to get a dose of positive thinking everyday. Focusing on the strides we are making is so much more important than the times we fall down!

  8. Reblogged this on Lost in the Winterness and commented:
    This is a brilliant post – thanks Sharon. Because of BPD awareness month I decided to “come out” publicly on Facebook last week regarding my diagnosis and I’ve been overwhelmed with support from all kinds of people near and far and I’m so glad I did, it was terrifying but I’ve had no negative feedback at all. I intend to post about it but have been a bit caught up with family commitments. Thanks again so much for this brilliantly articulated post – you’re speaking for many who can’t articulate often through fear of stigma and I truly believe persistence in raising awareness will prevail, it takes time but we will get there I believe :) xx

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  12. Thank you for the links! The usual suicide hotlines are an absolute joke, looking forward to checking some of these out. Thanks for picking up the mantle & spreading the word. It really isn’t something we should be ashamed of (I’m not). Nonetheless… Hugs

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