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Who Can Have Mental Illness?

Ever wonder if mental illness affects some groups of people more than others? Why do I have Bipolar Disorder, and my friends do not? Did I do something to cause it to happen? Was there something I could have done to avoid it? Maybe it’s totally the fault of genetics.

Stigma Hurts!

This kind of thinking is developed from stigma, which comes in many different forms. People don’t understand and are afraid of the unknown, so stigma develops as a way to cope. However, it’s not an efficient way to cope because it hurts everyone involved. The only thing it does is create hatred and discrimination.     

It is Not Your Fault!

Being that I am a Christian, several times in my life I’ve heard someone say or ask things like:

  •      “I didn’t think Christian’s could get depressed”
  •      “Can Christian’s get depressed?”
  •      “Real Christian’s don’t get depressed”.

OK, so my response to this, in a word, was “Huh?!” 

That is absolutely not logical thinking in the least. As a Christian, when I hear things like this I get angry because of the stigma and the pressure that it puts on me as a patient. It makes me feel like I’ve failed myself, God, or my family somewhere. I feel like I have Bipolar Disorder because I messed up somewhere along the line. 

Mental illness knows no boundaries. It crosses all lines of gender, race, financial status, social status, sexual-orientation, cultures; and yes even religions! To say that one group of people can’t get a mental illness is like saying that same group can’t get cancer, or AIDS, or cardiac problems. Just because a religious group (for example) has strong faith doesn’t mean they’re no longer persons with flesh and blood, and all the strengths or weaknesses that come with being a human being. Your chances of having a mental health disorder have nothing to do with strength of personality or character. 

You Are Strong Enough to Overcome!

Even though there is no cure, mental illness can be treated.  Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Autism, Down’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder; or any other mental illness is not contagious.  Not only that, but it can be overcome.  In most cases it is possible to live a full, active, productive life and be a contributing member of society.  

You are not your disorder.  You have a disorder.  It is not your fault.  No one can blame you, any more than they can blame someone for being a diabetic.  Don’t let the stigma and the negative thinking get to you.  You are stronger than you think.  You deserve the life that you want, and you can do it!  Labels are for a lot of things in this world; but defiantly not for people. 

by Carley Cooper;  Website:  CarleyCooper.com; Blogs:  Worship Melodies and Tin Roof Sundae.  Also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.  

Comments

So very true. Being Christian or of any faith for that matter doesn't mean you are immune from mental illness, it just means you may be more equipped at battling it with both prayer and seeking help. Tenth Avenue North said "the one the winds and waves obey is strong enough to save you." It's true.

Thank you for taking the time to write and share not only such a great article, but such a true article. This hits me very close to home as it has always been a big part of my life as I struggled to understand why God would allow a me, a Christian, to go through such darkness as mental illness. I had no doubt that God heard my prayers and cries for help but could not understand why he wouldn't change me or fix me. Was there something wrong with me? Was I not worthy? Why was God not reaching out to me, because I was certainly reaching out to him. However, I have come to realize that I am a stronger believer because my faith was tested and proven. As always God makes good of the bad and that is why and how I was able to launch our life changing/life saving non-profit initiative UMTR2ME You Matter To Me.

Thank you for bringing faith and mental illness to a brighter light…
~Jimm

This is a great post! Yes, labels are most definitely not for people! I am hopeful that with innovative awareness campaigns run by the International Bipolar Foundation and other wonderful groups such as Bring Change 2 Mind, stigma will lessen a great deal. And who knows - I believe in miracles and with the tremendous amount of research being done by U of M Heinz Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, UCLA, CREST BD and other researchers, a cure could be found in our lifetime! Never say never...
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www.proudlybipolar.wordpress.com
Author of the upcoming book "Birth of a New Brain - Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder"
Consumer Advisory Board Member/Blogger, International Bipolar Foundation, http://www.ibpf.org/blog
@birthofnewbrain

Carley, you are so right about a stigma especially if you're a Christian. I'm so glad you blogged about this subject. We've come a ways as a society towards mental illness but we have a long ways to go to get understanding. Thank you for bringing this out. You have my full support and I have a couple of different mental illness's.

I love the post very much. Mental Illness is a disease like anything else. And people do no not understand it. We get comments like SNAP OUT OF IT and the like. Friends runs away from us. So we lose out on many things in life. So we do the best we can. May people begin to accept the mental illness people like everyone else in time. God Blessings to Everyone Always.

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