The stigma of mental illness

I am no different to you!

Written by Mairead Carey


Being a person who suffers a lot with their mental health is frustrating at times. I get frustrated with the “illness” term, I get frustrated with the way people perceive me, I get frustrated at listening to people talk about how selfish people like me are and I get frustrated about spending days in agony. In short, I get frustrated about being frustrated.

I attend a voluntary job at Pieta House once a month – I treat myself to a taxi to get there. Once you tell the taxi driver where you are going though, you have a 50/50 chance of that taxi driver word vomiting negativity all over you for wanting to help people.

At times, I really think of giving up everything – quitting college, quitting volunteering, quitting caring, quitting life, because really what is the point of any of it when so many people cannot see what I envision or see? Instead of people actually saying “Well done” with regards to how far I’ve come, they still doubt me and my capabilities! So I will explain to you what the point is, seeing as so many people cannot see it.

I am no less capable than anyone else. I am well able to attend college to study counselling and psychotherapy. In fact, I have more experience in the area I want to become a professional in than someone would get just from reading literature and taking exams. My direct experience means that my capacity for empathy is deeper than most and that my understanding of despair, situations of trauma and mental health afflictions is immense and widespread.

I am just like you, except that I fight through a lot of negative thoughts

I am also capable of going to work; I perform my job in an excellent manner and have the necessary motivation to keep me on track within the work force. I even admit that I like my job. My motivations for work are just like the majority of people; coupled with the added pressure that mental ill-health can give you. I am also highly motivated to prove society and people wrong.

I am the same as everyone else: I wake, I eat, I drink, I smile, I laugh, I cry, I feel, I sleep. I am just like you, except that I fight through a lot of negative thoughts just to do any of these. Yet I still do it. I fight feelings of the deepest sadness you can feel and some days I even fight self-destructive thoughts, but yet I am still out there living my life.

I work hard at trying to fit healthy food in my diet daily and I drink four pints of water per day. I even push myself the extra mile by cycling, walking or jogging to work in the mornings and then again back home in the evenings. All of this helps to keep my body in top shape for what I need to do each day, I also know that working extra hard to stay in shape gives me the ability to fight these mental “illnesses” and maintain some form of stability within my life.

I write for SpunOut where my opinion is highly valued and I use my experiences to help and inform others. In helping and spreading knowledge, I hope to help break down stigma. I also volunteer one weekend a month in Pieta House because I believe I can share hope. I want to help those who are in their darkest moments and shine a light for them along their journey.

I maintain healthy relationships within my life; I have amazing friendships and a beautifully strong relationship with my boyfriend. I work hard on my friendships and my relationship even when I am struggling within myself. I make sure not to neglect others and I always make time for people, as well as for myself. Some people see those with mental “illnesses” as selfish, but actually many people who suffer with any form of mental “illness” are some of the most loving people you can find to walk this earth.

Although my past is covered with a wide range of problems, this does not make me weaker than anyone else. I am not broken, I am just deeply hurt and I work daily on bandaging the mental wounds inflicted by others. I am strong, I hold more in my hands than most people ever will in a lifetime, I feel hope larger than most, I feel love in depths unknown to the majority of people. I have actually lost people too – some people walk away because my life is too heavy to handle. It is easy to walk away, but to stay and fight through all of this is a sign of the highest strength within man.

I know it will take a generation to break the stigma but if I remain silent about my battles, it will make them all pointlessly painful, so I share my insight. I assist others, I walk with those who have lost their way, I am not afraid to hold their hand. My emotions may be more extreme and more deeply felt, but it does not mean I am shattered or crazy; it just means that I am no different to you.

Our work is supported by