Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"A Demographic of Silence Living With Mental Health Stigma"

 is the relative or total lack of audible sound. By analogy, the word silence may also refer to any absence of communication, even in media other than speech.[1] Silence is also used as total communication, in reference to non verbal communication and spiritual connection.

Silence when it comes to mental illness is a killer, a killer of self esteem, hope, and emotional safety. Silence mixed with stigma is painful and is a cause for those living with Mental Illness to separate ourselves from the world around us. Rarely does a person living with mental illness speak out to identify with or protect others traveling down our own road, because the fear of being stigmatized by others is a constant shroud that covers us. We have all faces stigma, either self imposed or from a external source, both feed each other and keep us in so many ways from reaching our potential. 

Self Imposed Silence & Stigma; We have no parade or telethon, no ribbon that is worn by people en mass, We are rarely mentioned by media unless it is a story on a person who does something horrific, we have few open role models. This is one way we self stigmatize, out of fear of being seen as not fit for society, based on media provided public awareness. We have also lost friends and family, our behaviors actions have caused rifts, or our emotional state is just ignored or seen and blamed on things that are words easier digested, like "Lazy","Unmotivated", "Must be on drugs", words like these and many others keep us from speaking out.

Outside Stigma: The world is not offered a real view of living with mental illness and in some cases has little respect for the suffering. Look at TV, they portray people with mental illness either as a demon or a clown, to mocked or feared. Shows like "Hoarders" uses people with mental illness to be a digital side show as the old fashion side show is long gone and now a family can mock the ill from the comfort of their own sofa. Or crime shows that as far as I know only Portray people with MH as killers and perverts. So is there any wonder why we and our supporters are quiet. Who want to know a killer or pervert.

At Large Stigma: Ever walk down the street  and walking towards you is a man who is talking to nobody and there is no bluetooth headset under his or her seasonally inappropriate clothing. How often have people laughed or verbally abused these very ill men and women? It happens all the time, no wonder we are silenced.

 Coming out publically with a mental illness is a risk that only you can take. I took that risk years ago and to this day I do not regret it. Still I have faced the things I have mentioned above. I have lost friends, family and trust of employers. Yet I continue to be proud of who I am, a man living with Mental Illness. To break the silence I had to speak out and tell the world who I was. But that is not enough, I have to also protect the dignity of others who still or may never have a voice. If I just live my life, take my meds and quietly live my life I am helping to stigma fester in a vacuum of ignorance and muting others.  Ending the silence begins with ALL of us, ill or not we can make some noise and break down some of the stigma.

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