Patient Blogs | Depression
How I Deal With the Stigma Linked to Depression
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The stigma on mental illness is detrimental to the well-being of those who struggle with it. It causes people to wait to seek help, or worse, never get it. It causes people to try to cope in silence because that seems better than everyone in your life thinking differently about you, right? I have felt the effects of the stigma on mental health conditions.

When I was in high school, I had to switch to homebound schooling because my depression and anxiety were at an all-time high. I was worried about what my classmates would think and say about me. I decided I had to do what was best for me, and I knew that was focusing on my mental health.

Turns out that people didn’t care anywhere as much as I thought they would. I am so glad I decided on what is best for my mental health. Even if people will hold a stigma against you, it is ALWAYS worth it to choose your mental health over others’ opinions of you.

I found most people that hold a negative stigma against mental health conditions simply don’t understand it. Depression is an invisible illness, so if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t understand it.

Once I figured this out, I decided I would educate those in my life on how mental illness affects my life. I stopped blaming those in my life who didn’t understand my depression. It wasn’t fair of me to expect them to immediately know how to best help me in my darkest time. I started expressing what would help me. Sometimes that was me expressing that I don’t know how to feel better, and I am open to suggestions.

I found that trying to hide my depression only added more unnecessary stress on me. Getting worried that those around me may think I’m being quiet, boring, or not contributing to the social environment only made me feel worse.

So when I felt depressed while I was out with my friends, I started expressing how I felt. I was honest when I said why I wanted to go home instead of making an excuse. My friends received this very well and helped me more because I was honest with them.

They were able to be more supportive and ask me how they could help me feel better. I realized that the reactions I thought they would give me was worse in my own head than the actual response. People can surprise you when you’re vulnerable with them.

The stigma you hold against yourself is the most dangerous if it prevents you from seeking help. Yes, it’s incredibly hard to be honest with yourself in deciding you need professional support, but I PROMISE it is worth it.

Be kind to yourself, it’s really hard to struggle with depression. Admitting that you need help and seeking it is one of the bravest things you can do in my opinion.

Everyone deserves to have help when struggling with depression. Yes, even you! Give yourself the best gift and seek a mental health professional if you need it. Don’t let the stigma others hold on depression cause you to hold one against yourself.

The only way to overcome the stigma on depression and mental health, in general, is to simply talk about it. This idea that it’s taboo to talk about how you’re actually feeling is dumb.

Be vulnerable! People WANT you to open up to them, they just don’t want to do it first.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Kathrin Ziegler / DigitalVision via Getty Images

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Katharine Hartleb

Katharine Hartleb

Diagnosed since 2014

Katharine Hartleb was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2014, at age 16. She has a passion for helping others and plans on becoming a mental health counselor. Hartleb lives in Charleston, SC, and is a recovery coach at a substance use disorder facility. She is also a young adult presenter for NAMI, sharing her personal story. Connect with her through her personal Instagram and her kat4kindness Instagram.

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