The Wrangler

Stigma in the brain!

By Kimberly Macedo Gaytan, Staff Writer

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Mental illnesses have been viewed for many years as imaginary barriers that hold the “sufferer” back from potentially achieving simple tasks properly. Great misunderstanding, lack of awareness, and myths based on harmful stereotypes have shaped the mentally ill population’s reputation into a negative shadow of what living with mental illness is truly like.

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Nowadays being diagnosed with neurodivergence is considered an inconvenience, and though mental illnesses may hinder someone’s ability to function “normally” (what exactly is normal anyways?), people with chronic mental illnesses or disorders have always found ways to embrace their differences and successfully ride out their minds’ chemical imbalances.

What follows are two stories shared by people who have lived with mental illnesses. Names are held at their request for privacy.

“I deal with mild to severe anxiety and depression. Some days are better than others, for sometimes I feel like I’m slowly overcoming the obstacle and other days I feel like I’m being drowned under the two. When I’m confronted with the disorders, which feels like everyday, I feel somewhat humiliated on the anxiety part because people think I am shy because it’s a choice, but that’s far from the truth. It’s something that I’m not fully capable of controlling and it makes me feel bad when people point out why I’m “awkward” or “quiet”, to say the least. And for the depression portion of the stigma, I feel as if it strays me away from the “status quo” of normality, leaving me to think that normal people are happy and hanging out with their friends and then when I compare that to me, I’m the complete opposite; always at home, overwhelmed with depression, isolated and alone in my own darkness. And I’m learning to accept myself along with these unfortunate mental barriers with relating how others feel and deal with these same disorders in the way that I do. It makes me feel less alone in this stage of adolescence, in which everyone is trying to find their own place in this world and feel less alone in the same way I am.”

overwhelmed with depression, isolated and alone in my own darkness”

“Anxiety and depression for me are a challenge. When it gets out of hand,  I feel as the world slowly collapses on me. I have a tendency to use music as a calming thing to control my anxiety. Depression is something that comes less to me now, but apart from that, [self] stigma keeps me from being strong and worrying [about what] people think of me. Sometimes I feel as if I am less important to others and I don’t have the will to say no, to fight back. It causes me to enter my own reality and push everyone out of it; I can never let others in or keep them in. However, as hours, minutes, or even days pass, I realize I’m not alone. I have others to help and find my place, even if it takes me a long time.”

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Stigma in the brain!