Addiction. Depression. Suicide. Our family suffered the triple stigma, all of them with our son Charles. He didn’t want to admit depression due to stigma and was even more hesitant to accept help.
What characterizes stigma?
I asked friends about how to raise money to get help for Charles addiction and depression since we were tapped out. When I mentioned that a friend wanted to do a FundMe campaign of some kind, all eyes were downcast. Silence. Squirming. Awkwardness. An uncomfortable feeling overall. That is stigma. It’s that very moment when your eyes cast downward and you sort of freeze up like a line has been crossed.
I do not fault friends for a reaction I would have had myself if I were on the other side of that question. Because it is completely natural. But they were telling me it wouldn’t be well received and I would be embarrassing myself. And they were probably right.
Why is it OK to raise money for a band but not for a family in a mental health crisis? Why is it OK to have a fundraiser for breast cancer but not to help pay for long term treatment for someone suffering from depression?
I remember the moment so vividly and I am thankful for it
Why? Because it was in that very moment that the seed was planted. I would later reflect on that moment multiple times until I realized what I needed to do and that was run toward it and not away from it.
Persistent, consistent conversation worked for erasing the taboo of breast cancer. And it can happen with mental health, addiction and suicide.
When a mom posted on my wall about her current crisis with her son in a psych hospital after a suicide attempt, people hit “like” but comments were a little slower to come.
This mom needed and still needs our emotional support. Just like you do when your mom is in the hospital. She kept updating and then more likes and comments followed. I admire this mom for reaching out. I understand the loneliness and isolation you feel when your child suffers from a mental illness.
That uncomfortable feeling you got when you read it, that moment when you were deciding whether it’s appropriate to talk about such a subject on someone’s Facebook wall, is stigma.
All I am doing is making you aware of what stigma is specifically so you can recognize that emotion within yourself. Learning a new thought process is not easy. Making those practices habit takes awareness and then more practice.
What is your incentive to make that change?
It will save lives. Our silence kills people. The louder we are, the more effective we will be in getting more resources because no one does anything about something they’ve not heard about.