I recently wrote an article on the amazing work and campaign from Chris Wood in his fight to end the stigma surrounding mental health. The I Don’t Mind movement has already touched so many people all over the world and is getting the conversation started. I personally know so many people this campaign has helped and it’s such a powerful and amazing thing to witness. Yet even with beautiful and meaningful movements like this, there are still people in this world who choose to shame and harass those struggling with mental illnesses.
Social media can be such a powerful tool. You can speak your mind; start movements and even meet lifelong friends. But for all the amazing things it offers, it can also be a sad and depressing place when you encounter people like the one I did today. A comment was made that an actress who struggles with anxiety should quit her job because she is “obviously in the wrong line of work”. He then went on to shame those who struggle with mental health issues stating they shouldn’t be working in jobs if they can’t handle things.
This statement created an uproar, as it should, because the struggles that we go through do not define who we are.
In fact, these struggles help shape who we want to be, who we CHOOSE to be.
So many people look up to celebrities and public figures who share their personal stories with the world. Those that aren’t afraid to say “this is who I am, scars and all” and it’s what makes them even more beautiful because they aren’t afraid to admit that they have struggles just like we do.
I am honestly disgusted and crushed all at once at the ignorance portrayed by this person on Twitter and not just him, people like him. They continue to reinforce the stigma that so many people fight so hard to remove. As a member of the armed forces, I know far too many people who stay quiet and don’t ask for help for fear that they will be mocked or shamed or even believe they will be let go from the service because of their struggles. It breaks my heart to know so many people suffer in silence all over the world because of ignorant people like the one I saw today.
For all the steps we take forward in this world, people like this just show that there are still so many out there that need to learn and grow. I am not ashamed or afraid to say that I have struggled with anxiety my entire life and I still do to this day and that seeking counseling has saved my life. I am not afraid to stand by my family and friends and help them when they are hurting, when they feel alone. I am not afraid to stand up and speak out against the negativity in this world and the people who try to keep me down.
Don’t let anyone dull your light or tell you who you are or what defines you. YOU own your heart and your soul and you know what’s right for you. Always keep fighting!
And to the people out there like this scum on Twitter today, I feel sorry for you because you are missing out on everything this world has to offer. You are living your life looking through jade-colored glasses and maybe one day, you’ll wake up, take them off and join the rest of the population and finally see what it’s like to be a decent human.
And with that, I leave you with this quote from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
“Don’t Buy Into Stigma – Be clear with yourself about who the person you care about really is. Even if we’re very close to someone with mental illness and advocate for his rights, we may also have our own preconceptions and false beliefs about mental illness. We have to learn to separate the illness from the person.”
Your mind matters. Talk about it.