Often images of the mentally ill are ones that come right out of a Dickens novel. People visualize asylums, dark and cold, filled with people raving and ranting and making little if any sense. For those who suffer from mental illness, they too see those images and carry them within. Possibly there is a belief that if not for anti depressant meds or good therapy, sufferers would be back there in the dark ages of mental treatments. Thus sufferers become silent. They deal with their illnesses with some support from close family and friends, but doing their best to keep it hidden from others.
Sometimes sufferers hide even from their own family since the sense of self shame is so strong. Mental illness becomes something to be hidden, placing great pressure on sufferers who cannot actively seek support in day to day lives.
The saddest part of this phenomenon is that it is self imposed. The mentally ill person makes the choice to hide the illness because he or she fears that others will perceive them through these images. It becomes difficult to be authentic even with oneself when one sees that self as being damaged goods.
It thus becomes imperative that societies begin to recognize that with the help of medications and therapy the mentally ill are capable of living meaningful lives. When society begins to act on this and portray mental illness in a more positive manner then the mentally ill themselves will cease trying to hide behind the wall of shame they themselves create. It is time for people to stop supporting an often untruthful and sometimes frightening portrayal of mental illness in order to enable those who suffer from such problems to live the meaningful lives they are capable of.
The mentally ill themselves can go a long way in making this happen by refusing to hide their illnesses. They can react to inaccurate portrayal of their illnesses with the outrage that such inaccuracy deserves. There is no reason for the mentally ill to wear a sign identifying themselves to the world, but neither is there any reason for those who suffer from mental illness to hide in world of self loathing and shame.
I ALWAYS say its mind over matter…