Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fed Up with Stigma

Watching the Olympic Women's Marathon in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I saw a public service announcement (i.e. a commercial) about mental illness! I was stunned and thrilled. I immediately got out my computer and discovered the sponsoring website. The Bring Change 2 Mind movement is sponsoring PSA's, billboards, and their website to educate people about mental illness and specifically, it appears, about stigma. With mouth agape I excitedly paged through the site, and I encourage you to do the same.

While reading through the site, I was given the option of sharing it on Facebook, which I did. This is where it got interesting. I don't know exactly how many Facebook friends I have, but it is several hundred for sure. I do know that many of my friends are involved in causes for which they care, like breast cancer, March of Dimes, or multiple sclerosis, because they frequently post links to these causes on Facebook. If it is a cause I also care about, or sometimes simply to show my support, I might "like" their post or make a comment. I'm usually one of  50-100 people to do so. That's the Facebook way of showing support, isn't it?

Most of my friends know about my battle with mental illness, specifically depression. Some of them even read this blog, so I was interested to see the response to my Facebook link. Throughout the day, I checked into Facebook to see how my link was received. It's been 3 days now. My several hundred friends have come through with 1 comment and 3 likes. What is that about? One comment and three likes from several hundred people? I'll tell you what it's about. It's about stigma!

I am so fed up with stigma! Even in the rather safe arena of Facebook, where all you have to do is click a button to show support, hardly a soul showed up. Is it that scary to to support someone with mental illness? Does liking a link about mental illness mean you might be crazy, too? What, I wonder, were people afraid would happen if they clicked that "like" button? I thought things were improving, but I'm afraid stigma still reigns supreme. I'm tired of it!

I've probably pissed a few people off by writing this, but I don't care. I'm tired of being disappointed by the pervasiveness of stigma. I'm angry I have an illness made more difficult by stigma. It appears there are very few people, even among my relatives, friends and acquaintances, who see mental illness as something for which they should be concerned. Perhaps, despite this being 2012, and despite lots of available education, they don't see my illness as an illness at all. I guess I don't know. Fighting stigma is a constant battle. It should be an unnecessary battle, but I guess I've just been rudely reminded there is much more battling ahead.


Marti said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now but don't usually comment. It is sad that so many people don't show something so serious and important more support. I haven't had much help with medications for my anxiety and fact I always felt worse and reacted poorly to them. When I found home all natural oils that helped me significantly I was excited to brag about them and when I told my brother he said "But it's just oils, but if it works for you then use them, it's all mental anyway." What the hell does that mean? If I could "mentally" tell myself that I shouldn't have these problems and that would make them go away I would have been cured a long time ago. But a lot of people don't seem to think that mental illness really is an illness or they are scared of it and that's why they don't show support.

Erica said...

I know the feeling when it comes to Facebook. Though many people probably did not like/comment your post due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, it could also be due to people's general indifference to genuinely reading their friends' posts.

It's frustrating that the latest gossip captures people's attention more so than real issues, but that's why we keep writing and speaking out, yes? I posted the link to my Facebook, and perhaps one of my friends will do the same, and it will continue to travel one person at a time. We can't change people's opinions and understanding overnight, but we will get there eventually.

It sucks that patience isn't a more easily acquired virtue with this disease, eh?

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I, too, hate the stigma. I think people don't see a mental illness as serious as a physical ailment. It's somehow easier to get behind fighting breast cancer or diabetes even though approximately 1 in 4 Americans will face mental illness at some time in their lives.

I've seen the Bring Change 2 Mind PSA, too, and loved it. I took their online pledge and tweeted it. I didn't get any retweets on that one.

Sassy said...

Well said, I have browsed through the bring2change site several times they are very informative.

I too am tired of the stigma against mental illness and the rude reminders. Thank you so much for sharing this.

michael platania said...

People don't understand. The best we can do is help to educate them through our words and actions. The more open we are, the more we talk, the more we discuss, the more this disease will "come out of the closet."

Unknown said...

I am so with you..and love that website.

jim said...

Wonderful post. And so needed. Yes, the damned stigma attached to depression is simply unreal. No one would do the same for diabetes, yet depression is a physical disease.
For the past few days I have been extremely suicidal, going so far as to type out a final letter and even started throwing out things and pay final bills. And the reason it is so hard to reach out to someone is because of the stigma.
So I read your post and I realize just how much work there is to be done. And I realize I want to be a part of that, of finding a cure. And that involves money, which involves fundraising, which people won't give to unless they can get over the stigma.
Thanks again.

Christian Steele said...

I truly think that writing about our struggles helps those of us who are hurting find the strength to heal.

So even if you don't get comments from others, at least you are working through your own journey!

etta said...

I am so sorry you are in such a desperate place. I feel for you. Please do me a favor and call someone, anyone, now. Look up your local mental health agency, or use the suicide hotline I have posted in my sidebar. Don't try to go it alone, my friend.

justmekpv said...

Funny, I was shocked by the very same commercial AND I too posted the link to my face book page. Interestingly enough the only thumbs up was from a healthcare professional.

Here's what infuriates me, the medical establishment spends billions every year researching better diagnostic tools for things like cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. These tools give definitive diagnosis for such diseases, and assist physicians in determining proper treatment. Conversely brain diseases like depression or PTSD are diagnosed using archaic methods, with no definitive answers, worse yet the treatment is ineffective for far too may.
I find it inexcusable that many times our society treats those with a brain disease as "lazy", "bizarre" or "over sensitive". Never once have I heard anyone suggest that an asthma patient must simply "toughen up". It is the symptoms that accompany brain disorder that are so often inappropriately interpreted. Leaving those of us with an inadequately treated disease feeling judged as weak, bad parents, siblings, or friends because we have not successfully "snapped out of it".