I want to get really real for a couple minutes. This week in my Psychology and Christianity class, we were having a debate on whether or not we thought that metal illness was the same as physical illness. In fact, the exact statement we were debating was:
“Mental disease is no different [from] bodily disease, and Christianity demands of the humane and powerful to protect, and the skillful to relive the one as well as the other.”
-St. Vincent De-Paul
In the debate, it was brought up that mental health has a stigma attached to it that causes people to not talk about the real issues that mental illnesses cause. One of my classmates made the point that she has both a physical and a mental illness. She stated that if she were at a party or in a social setting, and someone offered her cake, she would have no problem declining due to her gluten allergy. But if someone noticed she was down and asked her what was wrong, she would most likely say “I’m fine, just tired” instead of confessing that she had postpartum depression.
There it is… The lie we all tell when asked how we are doing.
So why do we do it? Why do we feel like we can’t be honest with the person asking us if we are okay?
Is it because we don’t think they actually care? Do we not want to admit what’s wrong to ourselves? Is it because we don’t think anyone else will understand how we are feeling? Or is it that we think that something is wrong with us because we are feeling a certain way?
These are all things attached to the stigma that we talked about during the debate. Why are we as a collective society so uncomfortable to talk about mental illness? Why have we been conditioned to think that having a physical illness is okay but something is wrong with a person who has a mental illness?
People should never feel like something is wrong with them because society tells them so. I don’t know when mental health became an issue of “us” and “them” but it needs to stop!
There are a variety of mental health issues ranging from anxiety to bipolar disorder. And the severity of these illnesses range greatly too. Just because you don’t think it’s a big deal doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like someone else’s world is crashing down around them.
It’s going to take people starting to talk about mental health to actually make the changes we need. So my challenge to all of you reading this post today is to start acknowledging that mental health is just as important and real as physical health is. It will take me, you, and everyone else to get rid of the stigma that mental health currently has.
to those of you who say “I’m fine, just tired”
I want to challenge you to be honest about how your feeling. I’m sure you have been told before that “you’re not alone” and that “you’ll get through this,” but I also know that in the moment, it might not feel like it.
Keep in mind that over 20% of young adults suffer from a mental health related issue. These issues are more common than you’d think, despite the lack of conversation about them. Never feel like you are wrong for feeling the way that you do. But don’t lie and say “I’m fine, just tired” if you feel like your world is falling out from under you. These issues are scary and overwhelming so I encourage you to talk to someone about it. Even if you need to reach out to me.
If you would like, take some time to read this article on how to handle feeling lost or lonely. The best thing you can do for yourself is find things you love and that help you feel most fulfilled. If you feel as though you need more help, I encourage you to talk to a friend or family member and possibly even seek professional help. Don’t be afraid of opening up.
to those of you who have been told “I’m fine, just tired”
Take notice. If you know the person and you can tell they aren’t themselves, dig deeper. Something made you ask them if they were okay in the first place. Don’t accept the lie they are telling you. Show that you care. This could be life changing to the person you’re talking to. Odds are you don’t know how they’re feeling. So don’t tell them to calm down or that they are overreacting. Just be there for them. Honor their wishes but also do what is best for them.
finally I want to leave you with some Scripture
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28
Please comment below if you vow to be part of the movement that gets rid of the stigma that mental health has!