My book title is STOP THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL. It’s everything that your family member or friend who struggles with depression needs you to know. The question is: What does the term, stop the stigma mean to you in relation to Anxiety, depression or addiction?
The Growth of Mental Health Issues
Anxiety, depression and the spiral into addiction are all growing at an alarming rate; that rate, which was already huge, has doubled since the onset of COVID 19.
Stop The Stigma
In order to save those who struggle with anxiety or depression from sliding into addiction; we need to stop the stigma. Now that term has become so cliched that we barely pay attention to it anymore, but sadly the outcome of ignoring it will mean the loss of many more lives. That’s horrendous. There is a huge cost to families because it affects every member, not just the one who struggles.
What Causes Depression and Anxiety
Here’s the fact; depression at its very root begins with a series of problems and a significant loss; now that loss could be anything at all, loss of a job, a relationship, loss of freedom, which is a significant issue during COVID. It could be the loss of self. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed that we lose our focus, which is cause for a further slide, and then we lose confidence which produces withdrawal.
There we are feeling depressed and down but instead of support, what often happens?
Stigma and the Downward Spiral
Back to the stigma, once a person is struggling with depression, others begin to judge. It really is a downward spiral because the one suffering is not in the headspace to be able to cope with blame, and so they retreat further.
Well-meaning but Mistaken
Well-meaning friends and family up the pressure. I’ve done this, I know how desperate we can be to help, but we are actually making it worse. I’ve been there and learned the hard way. The last thing a depressed or anxious person can deal with is pressure! In actual fact, we are punishing them for being unwell.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Statements such as He is mentally ill or pull yourself together start getting thrown around. The person can no more pull themselves together, once they’ve reached this stage than they could magically heal a broken arm if they had one, or cure themselves of cancer. Put yourself in their place. That’s key.
No-one Wants To Live Like That
Depression and anxiety are not choices. Would you hang around to listen to accusations and blame, when you feel so dreadful, and don’t even know why? Our loved ones retreat to suffer alone. They begin to experience self-stigma. They internalise the attitudes of those close to them and suffer numerous consequences as a result.
The Downward Spiral Begins
They desperately look for some comfort, anything to take away the anguish they feel. We seem to be blaming them, they blame themselves, so how can they escape the pressure? Alcohol, being socially accepted, is often the first choice for sufferers. Addiction begins so innocently. The downward spiral begins.
Stop the Stigma
We need to think about the term stop the stigma, very seriously. If someone has cancer, we usually support and comfort them and say things like poor Jo has cancer. But if Jo has a debilitating depression, we will hear accusing, or derogatory statements like He is mentally ill, or, He’s thrown his life away, I could shake him. When it comes to our mental health, society tends to blame the sufferer and define the person by the illness. You never hear anyone say Jo is cancerous, thereby limiting the person. But we limit those struggling with depression or anxiety, we take away their control, and we spread STIGMA.
There is always HOPE; answers and the promise of a happier future—a better life for all concerned.
We All Have Mental Health To Care For
We all have mental health, and we need to look after it as well as we do our physical health. There should be no stigmas or judgements. It’s good to remember that it’s not our job to decide if someone deserves something. It’s our job to lift the fallen and comfort the broken, with whatever they’re suffering, mental or physical. Wouldn’t we want the same if we suffered?
We Can All Do Better To Help Heal
We can all do better with our support level while helping sufferers to heal. Imagine the change this could make in their life and to ours too. So much more can be done to stop the stigma and the wreckage that is addiction.
If you need further support or information please message me or go to Facebook.com/karengibbsaustralia