When I talk about the issues that affect me psychologically, I tend to refer to them as my "psych issues" or my "psych diagnosis." Those terms feel a little softer to me than saying I am affected by a "mental illness." When I think of the latter term, movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Psycho come to mind with their crazed characters intent on harming others due to their mental illness. But after I had written several drafts of this book, I realized that mental illness is a more common phrase, and tweaking a label isn't going to make me feel any different about the issues I deal with.
Mental illness is much more common than some people might think. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI nearly 1 in 5 people in this country experience mental illness in a given year. Think about all the new moms who deal with postpartum depression or people who have legitimate fears and phobias based on some things they have been through. There are many people who struggle with varying degrees of anxiety or depression. There are lots of things people can be experiencing that could be defined as a mental illness.
The reason I am willing to talk about my mental illness openly is because I get tired of the stigma that surrounds mental illness in our society. It just doesn't make any sense to me. I mean seriously, when I go over to friends' houses to watch the Super Bowl it seems that every other commercial is about erectile dysfunction. If that issue can be openly discussed on national airways without many people raising so much as an eyebrow, why do people usually look like they have to go to the bathroom when I mention that I have a mental illness? It's hard for me to understand. My mental illness doesn't make me any more broken than my cerebral palsy does.
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