So as I had stated in my bio, I’m a Christian. Which in itself is surrounded by a ridiculous amount of stereotyping. You know what’s sad? Some of it is actually true, but that’s only because church goers are humans. Humans are breeding grounds for stigma. Allow me to paint this picture for you …
A very close friend of mine has been struggling with an eating disorder for a few years now. She’d been threatened with going in-patient this summer because she was only 80 pounds (FYI she’s about 5’5″). So, knowing she and I shared a faith in Christ, I asked my church to put her on the prayer board. They took her name down the week after even though I never said she’d recovered.
This morning, I decided to give them an update, because my friend had shared a scary picture with me; she had made it to 102 pounds since the summer. I was so proud of her fight. I figured the congregation would want to know how well she was doing, how strong she proved to be. This deserves applause and praise and parties and thanksgiving to God. You know what my announcement got? Silence. Averted gazes. Muffled coughs. I was shocked.
Oh don’t worry – it got worse.
The gentleman who went next shared that his son had received an MVP medal for his fall baseball team. Speaking from experience, that’s an accomplishment. The congregation beamed and clapped and shouted praises from their various positions around the sanctuary.
He got a medal. But my friend got her life back. Obviously the medal carries a significantly higher level of importance than someone recovering from an eating disorder. How dare I even think that a mental disorder would be given the respect it deserves. Not even sure if I should apologize for my saltiness about this.
I mean… Did you know that 25% of the population has experienced some kind of mental illness each year? And of the 25%, 9/10 of them reported to Time To Change that they experienced stigma and discrimination due to their mental illness? And that this is probably the reason 3/4 young people admit they are afraid to confide in a friend, family member, or mentor about what they’re going through? Now wait wait. Get this. I found that on the NAMI statistics log, 90% of suicides each year are from mental illness. Suicide has become the 10th highest cause of death in the US alone.
If those numbers don’t scare some sense into humanity, I don’t know what will.
Have you encountered stigma or discrimination? What did you do to overcome it?