Why Does Mental Illness continue to be Stigmatized?

Joseph Meyer Joseph Meyer

Recently I had the time and urge to watch the television series Homeland on Hulu. A show that has been off the air for a few years now but one that I truly missed out until now. The main character Carrie Mathison a CIA agent who fights to keep America safe all while carrying around a secret. The secret is that is Bi-Polar.

Over the course of years I have seen both in television and movies portrayals of what its like to suffer with mental illness and the effects it can have on ones life. Some of the depictions are true because I have experienced those symptoms myself and some depictions are incredible over the top. I get that those who suffer with mental illness especially Bi-polar suffer differently and we are all not the same.

The Portrayal of Mental Illness

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What really opened my eyes about this portrayal is that she pushed each day to do her Job despite the fact that she dealt with the darkest parts of humanity dealing with terrorists, death and destruction. Carrie Mathison a fairly young women but in actuality is my age born April of 1979 or so the fandom page states as  I was born in December 1979.

What makes this character so real to me is our age and many of the symptoms she experienced. Now mind you, my symptoms are not to that extreme but could be if I didn’t work hard at self-care and have the love of my family like my Wife and daughter. Part of the reason I believe Carrie suffers so much is loneliness and not feeling worthy of the love of another person only experience short bouts of love in her relationships that don’t seem to last all on the count of who she is.

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For those who have watched this show , you will see that Carrie suffers incredibly without her medicine Lithium and without she becomes incredibly unhinged and delusional , unmanageable and down right scary to those around her. I remembered back in my late teens and twenty experience extreme depression, anxiety and my mind constantly raced with thoughts of those around me who I felt where watching me and thinking horrible thoughts about me.

I too was alone at that point in my life searching for Love and companionship but never getting that until I met my wife. I did feel unloved at that point in my life although I did have my sister, mother and father to lean on but I felt like I was battling every day until I hit a breaking point that changed my perspective because I was moments away from being on this earth anymore.

The Stigma of Mental Illness

One of the struggles I noticed immediately in Homeland and even in my own life, is how those with mental illness are still stigmatized for their illness. Many times, thought of as outcasts because their differences and their struggles that many choose not to want to be around those who suffer greatly at times. I remember times when I opened up to those, I felt cared about me friends primarily about my mental illness and before I knew it they were no longer answering my calls and they were no where in sight, something I have experienced time and time again over my life that eventually I just gave up on trying to make friends.

I wish I could understand why people reject those with mental illness and choose to stay away, maybe its too difficult to look at that person struggle and have no answers into how to support them. Those of use with mental illness need a listening ear and someone who is just there to listen to our rants at times, but even that is too difficult for some.

I get that many spirals out of control because mental illness is tough, a constant battle of our minds and our physical beings that sometimes we just give up because its too much. I gave up once and thankful I am still here to live and breath and enjoy the goodness of life and the love of those around me. Although I don’t struggle like I once did, the pain is still there at times as my insecurities, my mind race at times.

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I think we all need to learn to be more accepting of those who suffer regardless how uncomfortable it makes us as we are human beings on this earth trying to just make it. Carrie Mathison gives me hope to see that she lives to fight another day like many of us do.

Mental illness continues to grow each day as more and more are suffering with this ugly illness and although there is treatment and help not everyone can afford nor get the help they need. But something we can all do is just be more kind to those around us, listen more and be patient with those who suffer.

Another Mental Illness Portrayal in the Joker

One of the most recent films I have also watched the portrays a severe form of mental illness was in the film “Joker” with Joaquin Phoenix. Another incredible example of a man who has suffered and just to be clear I am in way justifying the deaths he caused due to his illness. But when I watched the Joker, I could a man who truly cried out for help was getting it and then it was cut off causing Arthur Fleck to again lose control. Again, he was stigmatized for his differences, his strangeness as people felt the need to bully him and eventually it was too much.

These two portrayals are vastly different but very similar in how we as society reacts to those who suffer and believe me there are millions who suffer with all different symptoms. I know for myself and even today I feel unworthy at times, but I do know I am love. I feel even in my daily life I am just not good enough making constant comparisons to my peers and society in general. I plan to live a long life as long as I am here not going back to those dark times in my life but looking forward no matter how tough life gets.


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What Can be Done?

I would encourage anyone to look at these examples of characters who suffer and ask yourself how can help those just need help and not outcast them for their differences. Carrie Mathison and Arthur Fleck both vastly different characters but both suffering with mental illness and both living on the edge.

I once lived on the edge but found it incredibly difficult and tiring as that life look my spirit away and who I wanted to be in life, I lost a part of my years due to mental illness.

Seek Help, Going alone is Not an Option

I am better now but encourage you and others to seek help if you are suffering as you don’t have to suffer alone although it may feel that way. There is a brighter side to life even if we fail to see it , life is worth living.

Love yourself more, appreciate yourself more because you are unique and special just the way you are and learn to not take what others think of you personally. I know its difficult not to feel down and out at times, but you have a right to be happy in this life and you deserve.

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As you can see this subject I am passionate about because I don’t want to see you suffer like I did or how Carrie and Arthur suffered.

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