The Stigma around Mental Illness

There’s a lot of stigma around mental illness.  Society stigmatizes mental illness a lot.  Whether it is because society in general thinks that it is a matter of “only trying harder”, “he/she is making it up”, “he/she is weak”, or what-have-you, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around.

People with mental illness are any more crazy or violent than the “rest” of the population.  This is just stigma that has been perpetuated by Hollywood and what-not.

I am here to tell you:  Mental Illness is real, as real as cancer or diabetes, and recent studies point towards this direction.  It is not cured by “trying harder”, just like cancer doesn’t go away by trying harder.  Mental illness is not something that we sufferers make up.  It is as real as a doorknob and as dark as a starless night.  Also, it is not a sign of weakness as much as having cancer isn’t a sign of weakness.

Mental Illness and Religion.

However, among some christian circles, mental illness is deemed a “demonic possession”.   And while demonic possessions are very real and in many cases similar to mental illness, there are clear distinctions between demonic possession and mental illness.  I am not qualified to make these distinctions, but This Article from CNN explains some differences (TL,DR; This psychiatrist can’t explain certain things that have happened during exorcisms that just don’t happen with mentally ill patients.)

So, please, please, I don’t know how to start this “campaign”, but don’t equate mental illness to demonic possession – let a qualified priest or doctor make the distinction.  Don’t equate mental illness as a sign of not wanting to be healthy enough or some sort of weakness, because it is not.  Let’s stop spreading misinformation, and care for one another regardless of illness experienced.

Religion and Mental Health

When religion is important to the person suffering mental illness, religion can be a great step in the right direction.  I practice my religion and use it as part of self-care.