My name is Erin Casey and I have a mental illness.
Does that change how you feel about me? Say you had never seen me before, and someone said “a girl with a mental illness is coming over to your house…” What would you imagine to happen next?
According the to google dictionary stigma is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”
Honestly before I realized my illness had a name, before I accepted it, before I sought help and journeyed down the long road of recovery my thoughts would not have been something that I would be proud of today. I too carried with me the stigma associated with mental illness that permeates our society.
When you think of “mentally ill” do any of the following words come to mind?
off their rocker
Have you ever used or heard any of the following phrases?
“Oh my gosh stop being so OCD.”
“You are so skinny are you anorexic?”
“I wish I could just be anorexic/bulimic!”
“Wow, Bipolar much?”
(just to name a few)
Would you have said any of those things if you knew your friend or your friend’s family member had severe OCD? Or what if a friend thought about disordered eating behaviors and didn’t tell you. Still, there could be someone around you that you had no intention of speaking to who was struggling with that very thing that you made a joking comment about.
I’ve done it. We all have. We hear it, we say it, and we see it in movies. Aside from hurting those around us why else is it bad?
Because it’s time to understand that mental illness does not mean your crazy, your insane, your looney, off your rocker, lazy or slow. It’s also not a joke.
In order to change these perceptions we must change how we talk about mental illness. And that change starts with you and it starts with me.
Most people the people meet me in person say I am kind, determined, strong, creative, and passionate. My friends tend to think I’m funny and little strange sometimes because I like to laugh. Most of those people definitley don’t think I am crazy, looney, off my rocker, lazy, unintelligent, slow, annoying or insane.