Loud and proud about mental health

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I’m no stranger to mental health issues. You probably aren’t either.

You’ve heard it before; depression and anxiety make people’s lives miserable and are just like every other physical illness.

They can be just as debilitating as a broken leg or as dysfunctional as a concussion.

So why do we only talk about depression and anxiety? Why is it that society ignores the illnesses that aren’t as invisible as depression and anxiety?

People with schizophrenia are often reduced to just their psychosis symptoms. People with bipolar are misrepresented as sociopaths. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder are categorized as “neat freaks.”

The list of stereotypes goes on and on, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of other mental health issues such as autism and attention disorders.

I, myself, have bipolar disorder, so I’ll speak to what I know. Bipolar disorder is both depression and mania; it’s also sometimes referred to as bipolar depression, which means both down symptoms and up symptoms.

Those of us who manage bipolar disorder take a lot of heat for lashing out at others and changing our emotions like the weather.

This representation of bipolar disorder makes it sound like something mythical, as if you were going to turn into a werewolf the same way you would swing from up to down, irritated to happy, sad to ecstatic. But that’s simply not true.

Most of these serious disorders, like bipolar, are treatable. Many of us undergo therapy and benefit from psychiatrists. You cannot tell by interacting with a person if they’re bipolar, much like most of the time you cannot tell that people are autistic, have an attention disorder, have schizophrenia, or suffer from depression.

The stigma surrounding mental health issues that you don’t hear about everyday need to be diminished. They do not make us scary, horrible, or unpredictable, and they become less scary the more you talk about them and the more accurately they’re represented in the media.

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