This week I started a group on Facebook called Tearstojoy. It is designed to connect people whose lives have been touched by mental illness or suicide. My hope is that by networking people with similar stories, we can encourage and support each other. I must say that I have been blown away by the response. My inbox has been flooded with people sharing their stories. Many of the people struggling with a mental disorder beg me not to tell anyone else. Why is it that so many feel as if they must struggle in silence? What must we do to get rid of the stigma associated with mental illness.
There have been some amazing people throughout history who had mental illnesses. Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression. Beethoven and Van Gogh are said to have been bipolar. Hemingway was suicidal. To read about others, click here.
I think the only way to overcome the stigma is by telling our story and that is one of the reasons I chose to share my own. If you or someone you love has a mental illness, feel NO shame. It is no more shameful than having cancer or diabetes. Hold your head high! Don’t let fear or embarrassment prevent you or someone you love from getting help. If someone you know suffers with mental illness, love them unconditionally.
I pray that one day the stigma that makes many see mental illness as taboo will disappear. This will happen one person at a time.