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Fighting Stigma: “Attention Seeking”

So I wrote here about fighting the stigma that people with mental illness are violent and dangerous, but this time I wanted to talk about another stigma we are faced with on a daily basis when it comes to speaking up about our struggles. This is the idea that people use mental health issues to get attention, or that people fake these issues because they think it’s cool to be ‘troubled’.

First of all, I’m not going to deny that this ever happens. With the rise of social media and a younger generation learning to spill their entire lives onto it, mental illness has somewhat been romanticised in various ways, which can be so problematic to people trying to get help for genuine issues. But, I would say that people only romanticise mental illness because of a general lack of understanding of what mental health problems of all different kinds are, and just how bad they can feel. As I, and so many others know, nobody would wish for it if they really understood it.

What I really find infuriating, is to see this new backlash culture of trying to ‘call people out’ for being ‘fake’ when it comes to struggles with mental health. I see it all over the internet, and hear it in numerous conversations about people that talk about their problems. There is no way that this can help anyone. The only thing this does is make people feel like they are going to be scrutinised and laughed at for speaking out, and also brings the problem that if we do seek help and are greeted with this response, it can be very easy to be made to feel like we’re ‘not ill enough’ and still go untreated. I’ve experienced this first hand, when I have been in the midst of what feels like a life-ruining panic attack, at a supremely low point with my depression, actually starting to doubt myself. I used to find it all too easy to start thinking:

Am I just being dramatic?”

“Would people believe how this feels if I can’t even describe it?”

“Am I ill enough to warrant help?”

“I don’t look sick, so what would people think if I told them I was?”

This is the problem. Those thoughts right there are enough to stop people trying to get the help or support that they need. And we need to be fighting the cause of those thoughts. I was lucky to be able to fight these thoughts, and feel comfortable enough to speak out, but not everyone is. We need to be encouraging people to talk, and be encouraging people to actively pursue a better understanding of mental illness, not trying to humiliate and belittle anyone’s problems, because no-one would wish these struggles on themselves if we were all able to understand just how heart-breaking and damaging they can be.

1 thought on “Fighting Stigma: “Attention Seeking””

  1. People will jump on weakness if you let them.. people will doubt you.. ridicule you.. and say anything they can to prevent you from getting the help you need.

    Everyone’s got problems not just ones you see.. be sensitive to the fact.

    We all have our own journeys and people come and go in our lives for a reason.. if they are fueling your life with negativity and doubt then let them be.

    Focus on what you can control. We are all that we are, if it’s meant to be it’ll be and it is what it is.

    Don’t waste your time trying to control other people’s thoughts.. all you can do is plant the seed to encourage positive change.. you can’t force anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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