I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2014. Before my first episode, I had never had any mental health treatment of any kind. Experiencing a psychotic episode and receiving a diagnosis of a lifelong chronic illness is scary. Some people make the experience even worse by perpetuating the stigma associated with mental health conditions.
Some People Don't Realize They Are Perpetuating The Stigma
Some mean people still think that mental illness is a character flaw or a result of bad parenting. Some people even go so far as to say they don't "believe" in taking medicine for a mental illness. You never hear people saying that about other chronic diseases.
Many people say bad comments about it, but they often don't realize they are doing it. I've done it myself. I used to use terms like "crazy" or "nuts." Many people may use mental health terms as adjectives because they haven't been taught not to. "She is so bipolar." "I'm so depressed today."
I've even gotten stigmatizing comments from family members. They obviously didn't mean it, but the remarks still hurt. I was talking to a relative about my medicine not working, and she actually said, "You need to change your attitude."
When I start crying, I have been told by my parents to "lighten up." Many people just don't understand what depression is like. They hear the term depression and think it just means that we get a little sad sometimes.
Accepting A Diagnosis
When your doctor tells you what your diagnosis is, you may be shocked. You may be angry. Accepting a diagnosis can take some time. It may make you feel bad about yourself.
These stigmatizing comments people make don't help. Many people don't get treatment because they are in denial about it. They think that it can't happen to them.
Fighting a mental illness can erode at your self esteem. Many people think that these diseases are something bad. Having these symptoms and not being able to control it can make you feel like a failure. Many people think that taking medicine for a mental illness makes them a failure or a weak person.
No matter what anyone tells you, recovering from a mental illness takes strength. Accepting your diagnosis and getting help makes you stronger than you think. Many people have a hard time admitting that they have a problem.
Always remember you are never alone. It may take some hard work, but once you have the right medicine combination it can improve your quality of life. Many people with mental illnesses can recover and live like anyone else.