This series of blog posts are part of See Change’s Make a Ripple campaign, an online initiative to help end the stigma of mental health problems by sharing experiences and building shared understanding of the mental health problems that can affect any of us.
Visit the Make a Ripple story sharing portal and speak out against the stigma of mental health problems, read inspiring stories of recovery or share your story.If you’d like to write a longer piece, you can contact a member of the See Change campaign team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clare Elizabeth’s Story
The stigma relating to depression in Ireland is shocking. The amount of people that suffer with depression insilence is phonominal. People hear of a suicide in their community and say things like “Always seemed so happy” or “Goes to show, u just dont know whats going on”. But why dont we know?Why did these people feel they couldnt speak out? STIGMA. They are afraid of being judged, or classed as “crazy”. Speaking out seems Daunting. People with a diagnosis of a mental illness are not “crazy”. Are people with cancer crazy? Cancer is an illness, it can take over your life, it can be treatable but not always cureable. They are both awful illnesses that affect peoples lifes and their families lives.
Why the stigma? I have never publicly spoken about myself, and it is a very hard thing to do. But recently i was out and over heard a fully grown man say to someone in an argument “just go and hang yourself”. This man had no idea who he was speaking to, this person could have been already contemplating suicide and that was all he needed to hear to make up his mind. So i decided its time people speak out, we need to get rid of the stigma so people do speak out and get the courage to seek the help they need. Maybe the term “mental” illness is causing this stigma.
I was diagnosed with a depressive and anxiety disorder at the age of 19 following a suicide attempt. Gladly and thankfully I am here to tell the story and do what i can to help those who need it. Nobody ever knew i was feeling down, to be honest neither did I. I think i lived with it so long it was my new normal. A very good friend of mine once said to me, “Clare, how do you do it. Youre going to have a breakdown some day, you are always so happy. I laughed it off. Less than a year later she saved my life after an overdose. For this i am forever greatful. But so many people are not as lucky as i was. I could never speak about my illnes. Infact, i am sure the majority of people reading this would have never known only for this piece of writing.
Depression is a dark place, you are weighed down so much you eventually fall, you cannot just simpy get back up. The weight you are carrying is to heavy for you to pick yourself up. Instead you stay in the black hole you fell in. You go into yourself, you dont want to speak. You feel nobody in the world knows how you feel. You are aware other people are suffering with this but feel there is no way someone could understand. I faught this for a long time, and will continue to fight it, not only for me but for my family and friends. Nobody likes to see someone they care about be upset. This is something I have learned to live with, its me, its who I am. I cant do anything about that, but I can try help others cope. Dont get me wrong, at times its hard, very hard. But I take each day as it comes.
If you feel someone is down, simply ask if they are ok. By asking one simple question you could save someones life without ever knowing it, you could give them the confidence they need to speak about it. Let them know people care, and they are not alone, and they are not “crazy”. Have they had these feelings/thought for 2 or more weeks? are they having suicidal thoughts? No body will feel comfortble asking these questions or answering these questins but its crucial it is done.
It is such a small country, and such a sad rate of suicide. Stop this. If everyone makes a small effort with a friend of family member, then together we can get rid of the stigma. This is my first time ever speaking about my illness, and i am aware some people will read this and label me “crazy” – but thats fine. These people dont understand, and i wont be the one to explain to them. Mental illness has no time for closed mineded people. Its an illness, a disease, but I AM ME!
Thanks for reading xxxxxxxxxxxxx
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in raised here, or if you need to speak with someone, click through for a list of organisations that can help.
See Change understands that there is a complex multiplicity of perspectives on mental health problems and the experience of being unwell. See Change encourages the publication of material that promotes understanding of mental health problems, the experience of being unwell, and recovery. The opinions expressed by contributors to the Make a Ripple campaign are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of See Change, funders, or partner organisations.