When people with no psychiatric experience think about mental health, the biggest misperception seems to be, "They're crazy!" I have talked to people who think that my patients actually hang from ceilings and do all sorts of things like that. Don't get me wrong... if that were to happen at work, I would not be surprised! But the stigma attached makes people think anyone who has a mental health issue is like that. The truth is... they're not. You go to Walmart, or whatever store you shop from regularly, and you are bound to come into interaction with someone struggling with some kind of illness. You cannot always see that someone is struggling with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, PTSD, etc., just by talking to them or looking at them. Depending on the severity of their condition, you may be able to, but not always. People who have known me for months do not always know I have PTSD. The doctors I work for, my coworkers, etc., some know. Not all do. I know for a fact that some people would look at me differently if I told them. This stigma society has is a curse. I use my position and my career to try to be a voice for those who don't have it. I've known someone who has stated that PTSD can only occur in war veterans. I've used my voice to let them know that is not true. Anyone can have it! I don't have flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, or crying spells every day. I look "normal." Then there are days that I have to pry myself out of bed. I don't let anyone except close family members and friends see or even know about those experiences. But just because you don't see them doesn't mean it isn't real. My patients don't want to be seen in their worst moments. Why? Because society judges. This stigma needs to be eradicated. Mental illness is the same as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and so forth. They're ALL illnesses outside of our control... But society doesn't judge the medical illnesses...

Published by Nurse D