Free Yourself From the Stigma of Depression, Bipolar Disorder or Other Mental Illnesses

By Valerie Johnson, special guest writer to Free Your Mind Projects from Healthline.com

Depression and bipolar disorder do not have to rule your life. You should be sure not to let your mental illness define who you are as a person, no matter how serious your symptoms may be. Mental illness may seem like a stigmatizing and isolating condition, but you cannot let it take over your life. Thankfully perspectives of mental illness are changing, and the stigma surrounding depression, bipolar disorder, and other conditions is no longer as strong as it used to be.

Realize You Are Not Alone

Mental illness can make you feel completely isolated, like no one else in the world can possibly know what is going on with you. Simply taking a step back to get a new perspective can help make your symptoms seem less overpowering and stigmatizing. Knowing that there are millions of other people who are going through and have gone through many of the same emotions that you are feeling right now can be a source of comfort. Knowing that you are not alone can help you overcome much of the shame or stigma you hold regarding your disorder or illness.

Don’t Let Illness Hold You Back

There are many people who live highly successful lives, despite suffering from temporary or chronic forms of mental illness. Many famous artists, scientists, and even political figures have all been suspected of suffering from mental illness. Historians suggest that Vincent van Gogh and Ludwig Beethoven may have suffered from bipolar disorder, based on reports of the symptoms that they experienced during their lives. Similarly, historians have speculated that Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill both could have suffered from depression. Churchill is famously quoted as saying he was plagued by a “black dog of depression.” Both Lincoln and Churchill were prolific political figures of their times, despite having symptoms of a highly stigmatizing illness. Even if you suffer from mental illness, you shouldn’t let the stigma hold you back. It is certainly possible to lead a successful and happy life while managing the symptoms of your illness, though you might have to work harder to get there.

Realizing the Misconceptions of the Public

The biggest reason why the stigma surrounding different types of mental illness exists is due to a number of common misconceptions held by the general public. A large portion of the general public hold a misguided view of what mental illness really is. They may make the assumption that people with mental illness are violent, unstable, or lazy, but these characteristics are rarely true.

It is important to realize that the stigmatizing view held by most is probably based on a stereotype that they falsely believe in. These stereotypes rarely even remotely relate to your experience living with mental illness. Overcoming these problems will require educating the public on the realities of living with mental illness. Public perceptions of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other illnesses have come a long way. The public does not approach these conditions with the same fear and stigma that they did years ago. However, there is still a long way to go to make the stigma completely disappear.

You have to realize that people who fear mental illness might just not know that much about it. It is a natural reaction for people to fear things that are foreign to them. Every person who suffers from mental illness has the power to reduce the stigma surrounding their illness, simply by interacting positively with strangers that may not know much about it. You should simply make sure to put your best foot forward in every social interaction. Ensure that people get to know you as a person, and not as someone who is defined by his or her illness.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.


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