I’ve never broken my arm (or leg) before so I can’t actually speak from experience but I’ve been around plenty of people in my lifetime who have. When someone breaks their arm most people’s reaction is likely one of sympathy and support. People around them eagerly want to sign their cast or help ease their pain or reduce the burden from being less mobile. They are forgiven if they can’t participate in the championship game this weekend or understood if they have to cancel an upcoming engagement. And most people will happily send them their good wishes, make sure that they are doing okay and be engaged in genuine conversations about how they are feeling.
When someone is battling a mental illness far too many of us still choose to suffer in silence or feel too afraid to share their story for fear that they will be judged or ridiculed but statistics show that unless you tell someone how you are feeling their illness may go unnoticed until it is sadly too late. And because having a mental illness is still so stigmatized today it makes it that much more difficult for others to acknowledge or accept it like you would when someone is suffering with a physical challenge.
If I had chosen not to share my journey with you or publish my book, most of you reading this right now would more than likely have no idea that I struggle with a mental illness every day. I mean why would you or how could you because it’s not like I’m wearing a cast around my head. If I chose to hide my illness from the outside world I’m guessing that many people who come into contact with me in some form or another would likely look at me as someone who is lazy, anti-social, somewhat flaky or possibly even rude.
Breaking your arm is painful and burdensome and deserves to be treated with sympathy and support from others but why should someone who’s challenges or illness are not visible to the naked eye not deserve the same sympathy and support? Why is it that we don’t feel ashamed when we have a broken arm but too many people in our society still make those battling a mental illness feel very ashamed even though they too are in an enormous amount of pain? Why is it okay to forgive someone who has the limited ability to participate in activities or difficulty going out due to a physical challenge but when faced with the same limitations and more due to a mental illness are looked upon as being weak?
I wrote a blog the other day (The Climb; Oct 20, 2019) about how difficult a time I am having and the reality of it is that I am fighting with every fibre of my being to stay alive right now and if I could stabilize or actually heal my fractured mind with the aid of a bandage around my head I would. I wish that I could help more people take notice of what excruciating pain there is in living with suicidal ideations with the aid of a bandage around my head. I wish I could help more people understand how real this disease is with the aid of a bandage around my head even though there are no physical signs present but what I wish for more than anything is that it would be easier for people to engage in conversations with someone battling a mental illness who is more than a willing participant to share their story without needing to take drastic measures or having the aid of a bandage around their head to prove that they are ŕeally sick.
The reality is there is no cast to help aid in the healing process of a mental illness but there certainly are many other ways to offer support or show acceptance and love because I really wish more than anything that I or the millions of other people suffering with a mental illness could have brighter days because someone took the time to sign their cast.