Today, October 10, 2015 is Mental Health Awareness Day

We have the right to dignity.

Posted Oct 10, 2015

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY IS A TRADEMARKED PROJECT OF THE WORLD FEDERATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Source: WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY IS A TRADEMARKED PROJECT OF THE WORLD FEDERATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH

One in four people lives with a mental illness worldwide. We all deserve to have dignity in our lives, from others, but also from ourselves.

Today, Saturday, October 10, 2015 is World Mental Health Day and the universal message is “Dignity In Mental Health."  This week (October 5th – October 11th) is Mental Health Awareness Week.

Dignity, as defined by the Oxford Desk Dictionary is a “composed and serious manner or style.”  An alternate definition reads “self-respect.”  I had to look it up because when I tried to define it in my mind I knew what it was conceptually, but I had difficulty writing a formal definition.  I like the alternate definition of self-respect.

It’s hard to find respect for ourselves when we constantly see or hear others putting us down. When we see and hear portrayals of the media’s version of mentally ill people in the news, we know that those individuals who they are talking about aren’t truly representative of us.  But yet, that picture is what society is taking away and it only serves to harm the majority of us.

I cringe when I hear anyone use the word “crazy.”  I don’t like to hear that word used in reference to myself or anyone else.  I believe that word (and there are others as well)  works to destroy the dignity in mental health that we are trying so hard to build.  Last week, when I was getting my eyebrows waxed, the technician asked what I did for a living.  “I’m a psychiatric social worker,” I told her.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“I work with people who have emotional difficulties,” I explained.

“Oh,” she said in way of understanding.  “You mean like crazy people.”

I tried not to let my voice reflect the anger I felt.  “We don’t like to use that word.”

She apologized.  I hope that she will remember our conversation for the next time.

In that encounter with the technician, I hope that I educated someone who was ignorant, I hope that I contributed to the fight against the stigma of mental illness, but I know that in speaking up I preserved my dignity in a way that I wouldn’t have if I had chosen to remain silent.

I feel that by blogging honestly about my fight with my mental illness, my ups and downs, the highs and lows, I have also contributed to the fight against stigma and I have built my sense of dignity.  Sharing my experience with my readers, reading the comments, knowing that you are following my journey and are out there pulling for me has given me a strength that I couldn’t have drawn from any other source.

From the comments, I realize that I’ve let others know that they are not alone in this journey, in this fight and that has done more for my sense of dignity than anything else.  That was my goal in starting my blog, that is my goal in writing the book that I am working on and that is my ultimate goal anytime I share my story in any form.  I want to help others build their sense of dignity and self-respect, to impart to them that in no way are they less than because they have a mental illness.

We can do anything we set our minds to.  Just remember that.