A tweet from a twit! It blows me away that in this day and age anyone can say that about mental illness, let alone believe it. But clearly some very misinformed, ignorant people do. This individual’s comment caused quite a commotion on Twitter. Keeping his head firmly in the sand, facts were irrelevant to him though. Unfortunately they seem to be for many. As a result, stigma and discrimination still exists in society.
The human brain is a magnificently extraordinary organ. However things go awry, just like they do with any other part of the body. Mental illness is one brain disorder causing serious dysfunction in behaviour and thinking. Mental illness is the umbrella term under which a group of disorders fall.
Illness of the brain of this type (or any type!) is not demons, as the same man argued. It’s not a virus, or a bug that is contagious like a cold. And contrary to his comment below, NOT something you can cause yourself with a thought or belief. It’s this kind of thinking that creates stigma and discrimination. Consequently, sufferers self esteem, self image and feeling of belonging becomes damaged.
It’s a common misconception that the ‘mentally ill’ are weak of mind and/or intellectually challenged. However both notions are fictitious. The fact is that battles are fought and survived every day, often alone and in silence. That takes incredible strength, courage and determination. And some of the most intelligent and creative people have, or had, a mental health disorder, such as Vincent Van Gough, Albert Einstein, Beethoven, Georgia O’Keefe, Cat Stevens, Stephen Fry, Robin Williams. These represent a mere drop in the ocean of the brains and talent amongst this vast group.
Stigma, judgement, and their repercussions are why so many battle their illnesses in silence. There’s great fear in exposing what others can possibly hurt you with. The negative connotations around mental illness have a double edged sword, but while they still live in society, they will continue to live in people with these disorders. It’s a vicious cycle. I think the only way to break it is by people speaking up and telling their stories alongside increased education around known causes and effects. We, as the human race, need to change this primevil default that different equals fear, fear equals intolerance and intolerance equals discrimination.
Every one of us has something unique to offer. A person’s worth isn’t lessened just because they don’t fit society’s ‘norm’. Why is the most common lifestyle considered the only ‘norm’? What is normal for each individual should be considered equally.
The only shameful thing about mental illness is the stigma attached to it…