Breaking the Walls of Stigma

In  a world that feels like it moves faster than it takes a thought to enter your head can feel overwhelming, particularly when you are trying to find your place in it. We live in a world where technology is supposed to make our lives better, yet we hear tragic stories of cyber bullying,  threats of rape, murder  being made to people we don’t know other than an image no bigger than a few pixels or a few lines of text.

The art of communication seems to be lost. Now I must confess I’m as guilty as the next person. I really hate using the telephone,  why? Because I have to hear my own voice,  it gets worse when I’m not on form, or worse when I am unwell. I rely heavily on text messaging, I was only only too relieved at the invention of unlimited text bundles,  cause as anyone who knows me I am word rich and haven’t embraced text speak for the most part. I am the same when I talk, one word is rarely enough when we have been granted the gift of language to enrich a conversation.

See how easy it is, I can deviate from a point quite easily.  There have been some wonderful campaigns (such as rethink & time to think) to raise awareness of mental health issues and promote the end of stigmatising those who are affected. However I do wonder if the message really is getting through to the mainstream. Just about an hour ago I bumped into a friend in my local pub. I was enjoying a pint of shandy with a cigarette as I was busy typing away at an introduction for the small research project I am involved in with a small group affected by personality disorders. My friend asked me what I was doing so I told him was writing an introduction for a small research project on mental health services for people with personality disorders, the look of awkwardness soon swept across his face as he shifted in his chair.  I then felt compelled to tell him that I was such a service user as his unease increased. Of course I am basing my assumptions on his body language, so I told him I had a diagnosis (until half of it was stripped from me by a psychiatrist who has never seen me) of post traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder which meant that I suffer from symptoms relating to a trauma in my life and that I can be emotionally unstable when under undue stress. When I said there was a lack of services out there for people like me his response was to tell me about when they closed the local “local loony farm” from where he came from and “they” were left to wander the streets.  What a horrible thought it must be, these animals being given freedom and not locked up. Although as we know one in four people will be directly affected by a mental health condition and surely in the 21st century we need to let these ‘normal people’ know that mental health affects us all. Does the wider public who don’t know about the campaigns to end mental health stigma realise that someone with a mental health issue is more likely to be a victim of crime than a perpetrator of crime? Maybe it’s time to get the message out to people who are not connected digitally!

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