So, I was speaking with some friends (who shall remain nameless and sexless as it isn’t my place to name them) over the last couple of days who have mental health problems. It appears that stigma is still in full swing.

One has depression and has said they are worried what friends and family would think if they were to go and see a psychiatrist about their issue. I think the words used were ‘What would my friends and family think’

The other friend is suffering from bipolar disorder. They stated that they are coming to terms with their illness and that they were worried to talk about it because of what others think.

I have experienced this kind of stigma myself. I was worrried about talking to someone about my depression because of what others would say about it. That led me to not speak to someone for about 16 years. That is a long time to go without getting the issue resolved. During that time I tried to end my life by throwing myself down some stairs. I also had to take time off work because of it. I spoke to someone at work and told them why I was off and was ridiculed for it. That enforced my stance of never speaking about it again. I left it and then in 2007 I went to the local railway bridge with the intention of ending it all. It was at that point that I told my wife about it all.

We went to the GP, who then referred me to the local mental health team. Sadly, I was passed around the team for 2 and a half years. It appears that stigma exists in the NHS mental health profession. The psychiatrist I was seeing never listened to a word I said and never done anything that she said she would. Luckily, I am now seeing another psychiatrist – but not after another attemp at ending my life.

I was watching Embarrassing Bodies on Channel 4 the other day and they featured a chap with Tourette’s. I think he summed it up quite well when he said “I’ve learned to live with it and i’m ok with it, so why isn’t everybody else”.

I feel the same about my mental illness. I have come to terms with it and I am working on getting it sorted. I am finally ok with the situation. There is no reason why anybody else should have an issue with it. I have sadly noticed that the stigma is still very much prevalent. Someone commented and said that they always thought I was mental and then asked am I really mental. That shows that society has a long way to go before they are comfortable talking about mental illness.

I am trying to get involved with Mind and Time to Change so I can help break down the stigma and attitudes of people. Let’s see what happens eh.