Red Deer Reality Rant #42 - The Reality of Stigma
Hello fellow Red Deerians. In Canada, winter is the longest season it seems. It’s cold. It’s dark. It overlaps into Autumn and Spring. The days are very short, and most people like to stay indoors. Personally, I like winter. It’s very beautiful and easy to enjoy being cosy at home. I do like to get my share of vitamin D though. This is easier to do in Summer time, and lack of sunlight does seem to affect everyone’s mood.
There’s many reasons to feel down at the end of January. Still trying to catch up financially from Christmas, being sick of the cold weather, short days and less activities, or perhaps if you are like me, you are affected by depression. I do not have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I do struggle with clinical depression. Today’s rant is about the stigma from society that we face when diagnosed with a mental illness.
Some people may have stopped reading this by now, and some may have a lower opinion of me for having a mental illness. But I am here to say this lack of understanding and empathy is the root of stigma. We are not so different from other people, mental illness is often a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can be a physical and genetic condition that is not deserving of hatred unlike other conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Because it affects the brain, and affects people differently, a lot of people will not associate with people who have a mental illness. I am no more dangerous than the average normal person. It’s likely that I am less dangerous to the community because I am more of a harm to myself than anyone else. I have lost many friends over the years because of my diagnosis, and have a few friends who keep their distance that I don’t know is from fear, or lack of knowledge about mental health issues.
As I struggle to be accepted in the community, I do my best to keep positive, and give myself self care that includes doing hobbies like artwork, staying physically healthy, and taking medications. I have relapses and some days are worse than others, but I also have good days where a stranger meeting me would not think I was any different than anyone else. Writing this blog is almost therapeutic but today’s message is important for all of the so called normal people.
It’s the biggest pet peeve of mine when people think that they are better than anyone else or look down on anyone who is different from them. I have always thought myself equal to everyone else, and think that equality is a right and not just an ideal. It’s about having respect for your fellow human beings and not being so base as to think that being different is wrong, and makes someone lesser.
There are people who are not good who are different, but the general population of so called normal people is not entirely made out of inherently good people either. I consider myself a good person, with strong values and morals, and I like to be fair and nonjudgmental. I encourage you to give other people a chance before writing them off or judging them, I firmly believe the world would be a better place if there were more empathy and understanding.