Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
For any of us who have struggled with mental illness and gone public about it, sometimes there is a price to pay.
Unfortunate stigma has people believing that 1) suicide attempt survivors are violent; 2) anyone with a mental illness is unreliable; and 3) living with a mental illness means one could “go off” at any time.
If I were hiring and believed all the above, it would be natural to hesitate. It is tough to explain the truth to potential employers when no one will offer an interview.
Trust is difficult to regain. I have friends and family who still believe that people with mental illness are likely violent. It is disappointing because i thought by now they will have heard me and smashed such stigmas.
The founder of a ministry, a therapist, agreed to a meeting to discuss if I could play a role in his work. Immediately he asked about my diagnosis and before I could tell what marketable skills I offer, His facial expressions and body language moved from potential employer to fixer. I knew I was wasting my time. It was condescending under the circumstances.
Would I go back and keep my mental health history a secret? My story came out in 2013. Some people treat me differently. It’s been tough finding work. If you Google me you get mental health issues and my story. There’s no hiding now.
Good has come of it too! How could I weigh personal losses against the value of a life? Some faces are unforgettable, like the ones who tell me I’ve given them hope. In my best estimation (because who can really know) I think at least one person is alive because of my openness. I’ve seen family members improve in their support of struggling loved ones. So many have read my blog and heard my radio interviews, there is simply no way of knowing the result.
If you have or plan to go public with your mental illness, good for you! We need more voices. However, think carefully before you do. Due to a few generously honest celebrities, the national conversation has begun.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.