Being Ashamed

Recently I was browsing the Web and read a few of the comments on the Time To Change web-site. The intention for that site is to promote change in the way the general public perceive those with mental health problems. Many people had written comments about the attitudes of those around them and it surprised me that many of them said that, at times, they felt ashamed to be called mental patients. It is what we are, not Geriatric Patients, not Orthopeadic, etc. Surely their surfers would not say they were ashamed to admit they had Flu or a grumbling appendix, so why should we be ashamed to admit that our brains have a slight chemical imbalance that requires medication. It is no more our fault than someone who contracts a disease or breaks their leg.

It seems that many patients are doing themselves no favours by trying to hide the fact that they have a health problem. I am not saying we should blurt it out every time we speak to someone as we are led to believe alcholics do at A.A. meetings, but surely facing up to our problems makes it easier for us to start to deal with them and indeed others may start to accept and even understand our sometimes strange behaviour. Nor am I saying we should look for sympathy from people around us, but we certainly won't win any confidences or respect by trying to deceive others that we are like them when they can clearly see that we aren't.

On a personal level I am heavily involved with local darts leagues and make no secret of my very long term problems, even to the point of making, what some of the Time To Change sites surfers would describe as tasteless jokes that should be made illegal. The tasteless jokes are actually in articles that I write and post on my various darts web-sites for all the world to see. Stephen Fry might not be everybody’s favourite celebrity as he has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons sometimes, but along with others like Terry Pratchett, he is doing more to remove the stigma attached to those of us with mental health problems than all the bleeding heart do-gooders who cry "Politically Incorrect" and try to use some bizarre, non offensive, meaningless term, to describe us.

July12 2009