The Stigmatization Of Mental Health Treatment

The Stigmatization Of Mental Health Treatment

I seek ongoing treatment to improve my mental health, and sharing that with others helps me connect.
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To be honest, I've never seen the reason for a stigma around medication and treatment, especially for mental illness. If you truly care about someone, why wouldn't you want them to get help that makes them feel better and more functional? I think that something legal, viable, and helpful would be a positive in any healthcare scenario. Despite my own beliefs on the subject, there has become a somewhat universal stigmatization of medication and treatment of mental illness. Although there were many barriers along the way, I have been able to be open and honest about my diagnoses, my medication, and my overall health.

So why am I so open? Why do I believe my medical information should not be so privatized or hidden? Well, I want to be an open book. Not just about my health, but about my experiences, my feelings, and my life. This has, over the years, proven to be a great stepping stone to helping others. When you are open about yourself, others will be open with you, and the help they've needed for so long but have been too ashamed to ask for is within reach, finally. I cannot tell you how many people I've been able to speak to about their quality of life, their struggles and secrets, and the answers they've been seeking all along--just by being open and honest about my own life.

When someone sees me taking my daily medications, they are often curious, or sometimes straight up nosy. It's a given, of course, that I open myself up to this by taking my medications in places like my classroom before class starts, on my break at work, or when I grab a bite to eat with a friend. Sometimes they ask, "Are you sick?" Well, the answer isn't that simple. I have diagnoses of depression and anxiety, along with allergies and trouble sleeping. I try to answer in the most understandable way possible, letting them know that I take medications for my mental health to make me 100% functional, to help me be my true and whole self, and to sometimes just to get through the day. People are often taken aback by my unabashed and sincere honesty, but it's who I am, and I'm not ashamed of it. No, it doesn't make me feel like a zombie. i did in fact, try a medication that made me feel worse, suicidal even, so I did have to change medications a few times to make sure I didn't feel "off" or uncomfortable. I definitely see why you ask, and I hope that anyone you knew who has been through that tried other medications before giving up. Most importantly, no, I don't use them to feel better than normal. I need these medications just to feel the way most people feel on a regular basis, it doesn't make me high or elevated in mood. Just stable and comfortable.

I also tell people about my experiences with counseling, therapy, and a singular but terrifying instance when a bad reaction to steroids led to a short stint in an inpatient mental health facility. The more I talk about the things I've experienced, the more I find that there are others like me that interact with me on a daily basis who have been through some of the same things. As many with mental health diagnoses know, having a support system and a network of people to share and grow with is essential. I hope that those who have opened up to me have felt the same boost in confidence and security that I feel knowing there are others out there like me, moving through their day, facing the same invisible demons I do, and still succeeding.

Many people with think this article is oversharing, and many people think the same when I tweet about my daily struggles with anxiety or mention a therapy appointment casually. But you know what? If you can talk about the flu shot you got today or seeing your doctor to be treated for a cold, I can talk about my mental health treatment. These things keep us healthy, happy, and protected, and should be seen as such. Mental health is correlated with and just as important as physical health, and once people can come to terms with that and just be supportive of their friends and family getting help, the world will be a better place.

If you feel that you could be helped by mental health testing, diagnosis, or treatment, please seek help from a healthcare professional. Keep in mind that your health is the most important thing, regardless of stigma. Visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website to learn more about mental health, seeking treatment, and even supporting friends and family who are struggling with mental health diagnoses.

Cover Image Credit: Lisa Renye

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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10 Things Every College Kid Does, Chronically, At The Doctors Appointments

You may be 20, but the thought of going to the doctors still seems really scary...

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If you're anything like me, the college was probably one of the first times that you've gone to the doctor's office without a parent. My whole life, I've always gone with my mom. She usually took care of all the paperwork and probably knew my medical history better than I do.

Now that I've gone to the doctors alone a few time, here's a list of things that I've done while at the doctors (and I'm sure you have too.).

1. Procrastinate making an appointment.

Regardless of if I have to do it over the phone, online, in person, etc., I have a bad habit of not scheduling the appointment immediately. We all know that it would probably be way easier to just say "I'll schedule it later," but sometimes later turns into 6 months later and 10 different reminders, ranging from texts to passive-aggressive postcards.

2. Show up wayyyyy too early for said appointment.

Well, at least you aren't late, but there aren't exactly many perks to being early either. For starters, you're in the waiting room for longer than you'd like, where half of the people there should probably wear a mask but for some reason, choose not to. Hopefully, the magazines are current, and by current, I mean from the last five years...

3. Show up "too late".

You get to the office five minutes late and the receptionist tells you you're late. She says one of the following things, "Oh sorry sweetie, you're just going to have to reschedule." or "We'll squeeze you in at the next possible slot."

4. Been confused by the paperwork

At this point, I always wish that my mom was with me to help me out. Not only are you expected to fill up a fat stack of paperwork, reading all of it is a challenge. As a college student, I feel pretty confident in my ability to read, but it seems like medical paperwork just sounds foreign to me.

5. Fumbled with your stuff once your name is called.

This just might be a "me" thing, but whenever I hear my name being called, I always feel the urge to rush. It's like someone set a timer and I guess maybe I'm scared of wasting the doctors time?

6. Sit down on the bed and get self conscious when the protective paper starts to crinkle.

No matter how much you try to stay still, that paper is going to be as loud as a truck on a gravel road. So just move about as much as you want! Your experience at the doctor's office is supposed to be as comfortable as possible. No one's going to judge you for it.

7. Once the doctor or nurse starts asking you questions, your mind goes blank

You forget what you're there for in the first place. You don't remember what kinds of vitamins and medication you take on a daily basis. In the amount of time you've sat there and said "uhhhhh…" they've probably just put 'N/A' and moved on. Alternatively, you tell them about the one time you used a Hello Kitty Band-Aid when you were 5 years old when they ask you if you've had any recent injuries.

8. Attempt to read the doctors handwriting and failed.

No matter how much you squint or tilt your head, no non-medical person is going to know what your doctors note says.

9. Get nervous once they bring out your immunizations

This is another time where I wish that my mom was there with me. I'm not too scared of needles, but just the thought of the whole process makes my hands a bit clammy. It definitely helps to look away.

10. Debated about asking for something out of the prize drawer on the way out. 

Yes, you're too old and yes, I know that sparkly slap bracelet looks really cool. On the bright side, at least you can eat as much ice cream as you want once you leave!

The doctor's office is still an intimidating place and it sucks to have to take off time from school or work just to go, but it's really crucial to get checked out by a doctor! Too many adults skip out on going to see their doctor but making sure that you're healthy, especially in college, is crucial. Hopefully, after reading this, you pick up the phone and schedule that long overdue doctors appointment!

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