Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Story by student counselor, Sonam Dullat Maam/
Why is it that many of us find it so hard to talk about our health? After all, not all of us have perfect bodies and we do suffer illnesses or injuries and emotional health issues like stress, anxiety or relationship problems from time to time. While none of these are ideal, they are part of life. So, why the taboo?
One reason is we are worried that others may see us as weak or whingy. Many of us have family or cultural backgrounds where we were taught to ‘soldier on’ when things got tough. This is especially true for many men who were taught at an early age that ‘boys don’t cry’ after being hurt or upset. Issues such as anxiety and depression are often associated with behaviours that we are ashamed of, too. Also, those who are struggling to cope with invisible chronic health issues often get told that their problems are ‘all in their head’ or that they don’t ‘look sick’. No wonder many people feel it’s easier to shut their mouth and say nothing rather than discussing their experiences and seeking help. However, when we have no way to release strong emotions like fear, anger, and hurt, they can build up and cause radical changes in our behaviour and even in our physical health. Sometimes, they can make us so depressed that we no longer see the point of living.
However, the only way to fight against this stigma is to speak about it. So many people go undiagnosed and struggle alone without asking for help. These people often don’t know about the resources available to them, or are too afraid of being judged to tell anyone that they’re hurting. But when you talk openly about your own fight against mental illness, it opens the door for those people to ask questions and seek help.
So, if you struggle with mental illness, don’t remain quiet. Don’t let false stigma keep you from helping others and seeking help yourself. Mental illness is so much more common than you realize, but the only way to see this up close is by speaking about it to others. Sharing your story can do more for yourself and others than you’ve ever imagined.
I said it before, and I’ll say it once again: You are not alone.