BY ELENA VALDEZ
Mental health awareness has skyrocketed in recent years, as the conversation has turned to struggles which have previously been considered taboo. Depression and anxiety are household terms that affect roughly 6.9 percent of the world’s population.
These mental illnesses inhibit everyday life in ways those without them would never consider. Small tasks like brushing one’s teeth in the morning or even giving a small presentation in class are seemingly impossible in the midst of suffering from a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Reaching out is now encouraged, as help is available at no charge through the internet and social workers. As of 2017, over 59 million people reported that they visited a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist to help them work out their emotional turmoil and navigate their problems.
However, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. Labels are quickly assigned to those who let others know of their mental health.
These people need the recognition and help as much as anyone else on the mentally-ill spectrum.
But the stigma is heavier for those who aren’t mentioned at all. Society neglects those with equally debilitating disorders and forms of psychosis. These people need the recognition and help as much as anyone else on the mentally-ill spectrum.
Personality disorders are not discussed nearly as much as illnesses like general anxiety disorders and chronic depression. The majority of people may think that individuals with personality disorders are crazy and unstable, when that is not necessarily the case.
The problems of those with personality disorders are often viewed as jokes and cast in the shadow of more common mental illnesses. Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), bipolar disorder and dissociative identity disorder (DID) are often overlooked and hard to diagnosis.
By not talking about these illnesses, the majority of the population is unaware of how significant and debilitating these disorders can be. Although personality disorders affect only 10 percent of the population, the symptoms are often severe. Depression and anxiety are often part of a greater problem which, in the case of personality disorders, are pieces to the larger puzzle.
Individuals with personality disorders are not always aware of their entire condition. Their feelings may be scattered and they may have tendencies that don’t always match labels like “clinical depression.” An individual struggling with a personality disorder knows there is something more, but remains unsure of what exactly that is.
In most cases, personality disorders cannot be entirely cured. They are biologically inherited from parent to offspring; they do not just appear out of the blue and go away after a while.
Advocating for mental health means more than telling others that it’s okay to be sad or nervous.
Treatment, however, is an option. Learning how to handle what one feels and thinks can help immensely, which is why it is important to shift the conversation away from constantly talking about depression and anxiety and create a more encompassing discussion. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual Volume 5, or the DSM-5, there are 10 clusters of personality disorders with multiple variations each.
If the general public was to become more aware of these disorders, it would begin to normalize them. This is shown by those currently talking about being depressed or anxious, which is now more normalized than ever before. If more stigmatized mental disorders are addressed, communities and stronger support systems have the potential to be created.
The media has the power to influence and educate society on anything, so why not broaden the conversation to more taboo topics, like mental psychosis and ignored trauma?
Advocating for mental health means more than telling others that it’s okay to be sad or nervous. Advocating for mental health means total awareness and support to those whose brains work differently.
Illustration by Colin Camblin