This is just a small contribution to the #whatstigma Twitter idea started by @RebeccaFront. It's well worth looking at the hashtag, if you're on Twitter (or even if you're not) and adding your own experience; it's quite a nice way of stating that you're not scared of the stigma of 'mental illness' and you're not worried about the consequences of admitting what's happened in your life. There's quite a feeling of shared experiences to be had from looking at the responses and seeing what other people have been through, and realising that you're not alone, that these things happen to a large proportion of people - not the majority, maybe, but a lot of us - and there's nothing to be scared about from 'coming out' and admitting that you've had problems with your mental health in the past.
As for me, I've written about all of these things in the past, most recently when I did a blogpost talking about how people had landed on the blog in the past when searching for terms like 'painless suicide methods'. But why not admit it again. I have been periodically suffering (and not always suffering) from problems since the age of about 15, including self-harming, depression, feeling generally miserable and suicidal. All of that stuff, and not being able to cope sometimes with what was happening, but clinging on nonetheless. I'm feeling in a much better place now, by the way, but I'm always mindful that it's easy to slip back into what was, and what has been, yet I hope that I won't, and I'm confident that things will be OK.
What stigma? I don't think there should be a stigma. We are many. This happens too often, to too many people, to be dismissed as people who should simply pull themselves together or pull their socks up and get on with life. It's not something to be ashamed of, and it shouldn't be seen as a source of shame. It's not ideal, and no-one would wish it on themselves, but there it is: it happens, and you can't always deal with it as well as you might hope. There are ways out, ways to escape, ways to cope, and ways to be at peace. It doesn't have to last forever, and, as I always say, it does get better.
So I'm not ashamed, any more, of any of this. Not proud, by any means, but not ashamed. This is just who I am, and that's all there is to it. I'm not alone. And that is a source of comfort. If you sometimes feel you're alone, you're not. Remember that.
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