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I Used to Think Mental Illness Was for 'Weak People'

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A couple of years ago I was absolutely adamant mental illness just didn’t exist. I thought mental illness was made up by “weak people” who wanted an excuse to not work, to not leave the house or to just claim benefits. Ironically at the time, I was struggling with anxiety and depression and didn’t even realize.

Very simply put, I was that person who stops others from talking, the very reason people don’t want to talk about their mental illness.

Where does this even come from?

I personally believe this problem comes down to education — we are taught to look after ourselves physically from a young age by our parents, school and our friends. If we have a cold or a physical pain, we are taught to communicate that from an early age. We are taught that this is OK, and we need to look after ourselves, to give ourselves time to heal. We receive sympathy from people around us. That’s the norm.

Why is it any different with our mental health? If we’re struggling mentally, why are we so embarrassed to discuss it or admit it? Because of a lack of education. I don’t ever remember having any conversations at any point in my life regarding mental health until recently. I’m fairly certain that’s why I was so damn adamant that mental problems can’t be real. “Nobody’s ever told me that before…how can that be true…”

It wasn’t until my girlfriend at the time suggested I was depressed after living with me for six months, I started to consider that maybe mental illnesses weren’t made up. So I did some reading. I educated myself and guess what? I realized actually mental illness is a thing. So that started my journey on becoming better, self-healing. I’m not there yet, and I still find it difficult to open up and talk to people.

And the reason I’m still so scared to talk, is because there are too many people like I used to be. Judging me, watching me and making me feel worse. We need to educate people that mental health is just as important as physical health. The only way we can do this is trying to help stop the stigma attached to it through discussing this, and trying to get as many people as we can to discuss it, so we know it’s OK to talk.

It’s not your fault you have a cold, and it’s not your fault if you struggle with your mental health. Let’s help each other to get better and stop the stigma around talking.

I’m running a Vlog on raising awareness of mental issues especially with men, by sharing my own personal experiences. You can also find me on Twitter @filipoberio.

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Thinkstock photo via kieferpix

Originally published: April 21, 2017
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