This month, May, is mental awareness month. I did not know this until this morning. I began reading articles in the Huffington Post which led me to the philosophy website which led me to the bring change to mind website. Both of these advocate for those suffering from the stigma of mental illness. I know how devastating that stigma can be.
In my own family, my oldest son, has been institutionalized twice. Both times for telling a friend he was going to kill himself. Thankfully, my son spoke up. Thankfully, his friends took action. Thankfully, my son received help. And thankfully, my son has learned ways to cope, feel better about who he is, move through life, and get through the difficult times alive. Hard to admit, but I remember thinking how ashamed I felt that my son would even contemplate suicide. I even thought how could he do that to his family? At the time, the stigma of what others would think totally overrode the fact my son could have died. Ridiculous, I know. However, today, I realize his soul, his spirit and his heart were so lost, for whatever reason, he felt killing himself was the only answer to relieve the pain, the hurt and the deep sorrow he felt.
I remember the day it was announced Robin Williams killed himself. That day I cried. Not only for him but all those who had succeeded. For no matter what the person shows on the outside, the inside is profusely bleeding to death. The stigma of admitting the need for help due to a mental blip is just too high.
We need to crush the current stigma towards those who have mental illness. Instead of letting our perceptions interfere, we need to really look at each other, in the eye and see to the heart of a person. We need to accept without bias. We need to extend a hand and help. Too many are suffering. And too many are needlessly dying.
So, this month, in the spirit of celebrating moms and honoring those who died in war, let’s also take a stand and do something to stop the stigma of mental illness. We all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted. We all want to be heard. Lives can only be saved and hearts will only stop bleeding when we all join together. Let’s stop the stigma. And let’s remember, sticks and stones aren’t the only things that can break bones.