Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. False! Words have more stock than you would think. Words change how we perceive the world and shape our reality. We hear the headlines, scroll through the click bait, or catch a talk radio show proclaiming someone suffering from a mental illness committed some crime.
If you look back on the past, mental illness is a taboo subject even with in families. Even going into treatment can be hard. First with insurance and then explaining taking time off. Mom or dad disappear for two weeks under the premise that their dear aunt Sally needs help on her farm. From there it’s a don’t ask, don’t tell facade carried on by everyone.
People have been disappearing for mental illness treatment for many years. Doctors would explain “Oh, they are being hospitalized for exhaustion.” Then it was, “Oh they had a nervous break down.” Now it’s, “Oh, they had a psychotic break.”
30 years ago no one wanted to admit they had depression. It was synonymous with suicide. Then Prozac was developed. For the first time there was a cheap, easy solution to help the masses. Due to this influx of people getting these prescriptions, depression was normalized.
I believe this same strategy can be used with social media to unite all marginalized people. I’d like to see people post the #Iam hashtag just to let people know they aren’t alone. Just to normalize the experiences that connect us to one another. Let it be a show of solidarity to unite us through things that kept us isolated and ashamed.
It’s okay to take ownership of labels that hurt us. People shouldn’t be afraid to say things like #Iam depressed but I keep going for my children. #Iam anxious but I am a great guitar player. #Iam bipolar but one day I’ll be a published author. By changing the narrative we can celebrate the abilities that come with our disabilities.