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keep-calm-it-s-not-contagious-1

First let’s start with a definition; just to make sure we’re all one the same page.

con·ta·gious

kənˈtājə (adjective)

1.(of a disease) spread from one person or organism to another by direct or indirect contact.
“a contagious infection”
2.(of an emotion, feeling, or attitude) likely to spread to and affect others.
“her enthusiasm is contagious”

There are many things in life that are contagious: the common cold, infectious disease, even a mood, emotion or smile. However there are many illness that are not contagious. These come in the form of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (and many more).

Well, what about mental illness?

Depression
Bipolar
Eating Disorders
Schizophrenia
Anxiety
Addiction
Personality Disorders
Adjustment Disorder
Dissociative Disorders

No. Definitely not contagious.

The notion that by talking about mental illness we create more of it is terrifying. That idea feeds into the silence and shame that prevents people from getting the help that they need. It supports a culture of burring our heads in the sand and it prevents conversations about preventative care.

A person does not “catch” depression by reading about it or someone who struggles.
A person does not develop bipolar disorder by seeing it in a movie.
A person does not and will not develop an eating disorder by learning what it is.
Anxiety is not transferred by air; neither addiction by contact.
(You get the idea.)
Mental Illnesses are diseases of the brain. Some people are more susceptible to others because of environmental and biological factors. But no one chooses a mental illness and no one catches one from another person. It’s true we’re all influenced by our environments, but the argument that we should stop talking about mental illness or aspects of it because we are afraid of planting seeds would be the same as – we should stop talking about human trafficking because we don’t want anyone to get the “idea” to do something bad. Or lets stop talking about domestic violence or lets stop talking about teens using drugs and alcohol.

Silence fixes nothing.

If you know someone has HIV you should protect yourself from from bodily fluids. But if you’re planning on protecting yourself from possible negative ideas for the rest of your life, then you’re quality of life is going to be low. There comes a point where we all need to take responsibility for ourselves. Is this dark or is this light? Is this good for me? Is this helpful? Is this relationship good for me? Is this group good for me? Is this organization positive in my life? Where one person sees darkness another sees light.

The “idea” that mental illness is dark makes me angry. Maybe it’s because I see so many beautiful people helping each other. Maybe it’s because I’ve witnesses strength beyond human possibility through the recovery process. Maybe because I’ve seen families come together after being torn to shreds.

The light at the end of a tunnel is the brightest & light should always be multiplied.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.