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.
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.