What is stigma really?

Ever since I started having mental health issues I seem to struggle with having friends. When it first started I found people getting angry with me that I couldn’t meet up with them or I wasn’t contacting everyone enough, but instead of them asking what was up they stopped putting in any effort. When I dropped out of college and didn’t get to see my friends everyday it really affected me and rarely did I ever hear from anyone or get invited to anything anymore. I guess out of sight out of mind. While everyone else moved on to university and I stayed trying to complete sixth form I felt so alone. I guess starting a new school is hard and moving away makes it difficult to keep in contact but I didn’t have anyone around to keep my spirits up.

When I couldn’t work because of my depression I didn’t have any friends anymore. I clung to every relationship I could find because having someone that’s bad for you is better than having no one right? As humans we need contact and friendship and people around us that cheer us on. I have endless love for the people that have stayed in my life despite the fact that my depression made me isolate myself, and not blaming me for cancelling plans at the last minute, or not being upset at me for not contacting them in a while. So many people didn’t know how to talk to me anymore. Instead of asking what I was going through rumours circulated about what was really going on. People seemed scared to be around me and it became awkward. This is what stigma is. It’s being made to feel like you’re the problem because other people don’t understand or take the time to try and understand. I would have been really grateful if I felt people were trying to include me despite not having me around. Just a meet up, just a coffee, just a text or a phonecall.

Now I’ve learned to explain to people what’s going on with me without being asked. I initiate seeing people and I’m not afraid if people get mad at me anymore, because I know I’m not cancelling my plans on purpose. I have an illness that I’m no longer scared to talk about, and if people can’t deal with it then that’s their problem not mine.