Siitting on the grass

Sharing – Mental illness is so stigmatised, I sometimes wish my son had had cancer

This is a sad statement, and probably shocking to any of you who’ve not had to deal with an obvious, and public, mental illness. I have no idea what it’s like to deal with the kind of struggle her son is dealing with, but I do remember after having a dissociative episode tied to major depression how people reacted, so I know this is not uncommon anywhere.

A group of women I’d been close to since our kids were in kindergarten disappeared. Some local friends I’d thought were solid went AWOL. And although a few people were kind to us and kept in contact, these tended to be those who’d had similar experiences rather than ones I’d have expected to show up. So many people were terrified of talking to or about our son, as if what he had was catching.

Honestly, I don’t know if people worry about “catching” mental illness. It seems crazy on the face of it, but I also know that any mention of the passing of my in-laws and my mother in the first half of 2019 gets a reaction that very much seems like people are afraid of catching it. There’s such discomfort in talking about what has happened, that it can seem like people are fleeing some sort of black plague.

Yet, people who are dealing with mental health issues, and their families, need more support, not less. They need people will to be uncomfortable, but talk about it anyway. Mostly, I think they need to be recognized as the same human being they were before this happened.

Mental health struggles are hard enough. You can’t fix them for us, the same way you couldn’t fix cancer for us. But you can still sit with us, keep a connection with us, remind us of our own human value.

It might be a tad uncomfortable, but we’ll get over it together, if you would just not bail on us. Can’t you even do that little bit for someone you care about?

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