I felt that people thought I was unable to fend for myself - too fragile
“Hi, it’s only post traumatic stress, Love... Not contagious! Do you want a cuppa?”
When I had disclosed to some people that I have a mental health related illness, I was treated with kid gloves.
“Oh, poor Esther.” I felt that people thought I was unable to fend for myself - too fragile. Some felt a need to try and organise my life, including to who and what I should say about my past, because others may be offended. But it was me who had this mental health issue. I wasn't ever going to blurt out to all and sundry about my past. In fact I am quite a private person.
The fact was, all I ever wanted was to be treated as an equal. I am here not this fragile being who's wrapped in cotton wool... I also have strengths and weakness, as we all do. I remember thinking many a time, “Please guys, I’m here, you can talk to me. I’m not gonna go off the deep end. You can’t catch anything.”
I May sometimes not want to discuss personal stuff; just have a laugh with me. Meet up for a coffee, even a glass of wine – I just want to be included and respected, with the same needs as everyone else.
I recall on a number of occasions being spoken about while in the room. Again I wanted to shout, “Just because of my mental health illness it does not mean I can’t hear and don't get hurt, as anyone would if they were spoken about just yards away.” My motto is always “never do upon others what you would not like done to yourself”.
Get to know me, I like to laugh, even if it is at my own jokes (no, not because I’m losing it). I love to sing (to be honest I was told my voice is so unique that should sing on my own, far from anyone. But I suppose they warned me because of those famous women singers that would be jealous).
I care greatly about people. Love to be able to help others. I'm a good listener. Can cook. Very creative. I get hurt. This is why I would love to be a Champion and Educator - to help others feel comfortable with people with mental health related illness. We all work together better when we understand that there is nothing extra you should have, or you can’t do to come alongside us. We are quite friendly. Just be yourself. We’ll be ourselves.
If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org