You Don't Have to Struggle Alone: You Can Find Your People
Despite all of the progress we have made in society toward mental health awareness and understanding, mental illness is still a taboo topic in many circles, and many people continue to struggle alone. The stigma surrounding mental illness adds an extra layer of shame to an already difficult problem, and that shame can lead us away from relationships, deep connections with others, and fulfilling social lives with people who might truly understand, accept, and value us if we gave them the chance.
Struggling Alone Under the Isolating Effects of Shame and Stigma
Approximately one in five people in the United States has a mental health disorder,1 but even though mental disorders are so prevalent, many people still feel they are the exception, and no one else understands what they are going through. They try to hide their mental illness from others, suffer alone in shame and silence, and distance themselves from people to avoid exposing their mental illness. Not only does this perpetuate the stigma and shame, but isolation actually makes mental illness worse.2
You Are Not Alone in Your Struggle
I am fortunate to have a large social circle that has its own culture of openness and acceptance around mental health. The way we discuss mental health is no different than the way we discuss physical health, and I never feel embarrassed or ashamed to seek support from my closest friends when I need it. I often forget that so many aren't as fortunate.
I still encounter people who don't understand mental health, think it's an inappropriate topic to discuss, think less of people who have a diagnosis, or respond with ignorance and fear when the topic comes up.2 Some of you might have people like this in your lives who make you feel that they will never accept you. You might feel that you have to hide because of this, but there really are so many people out there who are like us, wishing for someone who can relate to them.
Where to Find Your People
There are so many people like you who struggle alone but share your experiences and would understand but are just as afraid to reach out. Here are some suggestions to help you find your people:
- Facebook or Reddit: Search for your disorder on these sites and find plenty of groups specifically made by and for people with your diagnosis who can relate to your experience. These groups usually have moderators and rules of engagement to make them safe and supportive places for members.
- Meetup: Find meetings and events in your area for people to get together, either groups specific to mental health and wellness or to your interests in general. There are also virtual groups if in-person gatherings don't work for you. You can even make your own meet-up through this website and host an event yourself.
- Support groups: Search for support groups in your area for people with your diagnosis to meet other people who can share your experiences, empathize, and offer support.3
If you are someone who suffers in silence and isolation, feeling like you can't talk about your mental health or find people who understand you, I want you to know that your people are out there. You don't have to struggle alone.
- Tracy, N. "Mental Health Statistics: You Are Definitely Not Alone." HealthyPlace, October 2019.
- Gluck, S. "Stigma and Discrimination: The Effect of Stigma." HealthyPlace, October 2019.
- HealthyPlace, "Join a Support Group!" June 2016.
Sabatello, J. (2021, June 21). You Don't Have to Struggle Alone: You Can Find Your People, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, August 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2021/6/you-dont-have-to-struggle-alone-you-can-find-your-people