As I am writing this piece I am thinking back to a radical conversation I had with my dad the other night. This conversation was not specifically on the topic of mental illnesses but actually a civil problem in the United States right now. Without delving into too much detail, it came down to us both agreeing on one very strong point: “I would never tell someone how they should feel when I am not the one in that situation.”
Even though my dad and I were talking about something completely unrealated, that statement verified two things for me that I already knew. The first, I was raised by some awesome nonjudgemental people that I am extremely grateful for. But the second is that it made me realize how many people out there don’t share our view point. It is extremely easy for one to say they are non judgemental, but how many truly are when it comes down to it?
About 6 months ago, I had a job working in a home decor store that sold all sorts of things from livingroom furniture to lamps or place settings. One of the very last shifts I had worked at the end of my year long employment term, I was unloading a new shipment of items for the spring/summer season. One of the items I unpacked was a handpainted wine glass that had fish on it (for summer). And I will probably never forget what one of the managers said when they saw that glass.
“Wow, look at how dopey this fish looks. He looks like he’s on antidepressants or something.”
I stood there and just stared at her for a second because I actually couldn’t believe out of everything in the world she could have compared a really poorly painted fish to, she chose a person with depression. So I asked, “And what exactly does someone on antidepressants look like?” She replied “All spaced out and stuff.”
I said, “Oh, that’s interesting… I’ve been on antidepressants for about 6 months now.”
Needless to say, she immediately started trying to negate the initial statement she had made, and obviously I had made her feel really uncomfortable, but it was too late. In general, and I am completely guilty of this as well, people just speak without ever thinking of the ramifications of their words. But to blatantly make a statement about people, sick people, who take antidepressant medication in a room full of employees whose personal lives she didn’t know, absolutely blew my mind. It struck me as bold but maybe it should have just registered to me as ignorant.
So that is where I am returning to in my mind. A little peice of wisdom from my dad. “I would never tell someone how they should feel when I am not the one in that situation.”
I myself am going to work on applying that to others this week; particularly with people that I see often because I feel as if it is the people that you think you know best that you tend to mistreat the most.
This post is going to serve as my introducation to a new series, called Stigmatized where I am going to be focusing on the general perception of people with mental illness and how that general idea causes reprocussions in our lives. Even if it as simple as someone making an ignorant statement around you such as I experienced in my previous job; spreading awareness is going to improve our overall quality of living. I hope you are looking forward to the next few installments as muh as I am.
Sending out Hugs and Postive Vibes,