Anxiety Attention Seeking..?


Stigma is a huge aspect of any mental disorder and it can actually cause so many more problems for people with mental health, to the point where they feel like they can't tell anyone about what they are feeling. Having suffered with anxiety and stigma in the past it also happens to be something that really grinds my gears when it comes to anxiety and mental health in general and is something that I am really passionate about preventing, so I just knew I had to do a post on it sooner or later... I guess I'm hoping that this will help to change the minds of that one person out there who is reading this with a negative view of mental health! Because I know 99% of you are completely positive when it comes to the subject, perhaps you can help to spread this positivity with me?! Because lets be honest, we're in 2016 now, let's just stop stigma already!!

Also, I want to note that I am mainly going to be talking about anxiety, purely because that's what I know and understand best, but if you have anything you'd like to share about any other mental illness and stigma, I'd love to hear it down in the comments! 

WHAT IS STIGMA?

So for all of you sitting there thinking, 'what even is stigma?!' I'll try and break it down as best as I can - bearing in mind this is my own interpretation of stigma! (So don't be too harsh!!) For me, stigma is when someone gives you a feeling of disgrace or shame in relation to a particular situation or issue that you have/are dealing with. (It's not always just about mental health) For example, when looking at mental health there is usually quite a lot of stigma surrounding attention seeking and this subject does really get on my nerves..!  A lot of the stigma surrounding anxiety in particular tends to come from the idea that it seems like a lot of teenage girls around 14+ seem to all have anxiety in one form or another... also the fact that many internet celebrities that we see on YouTube (that these young girls would see as their role models) also tend to have anxiety - there is a very large portion of them that do! So, to an extent I can honestly see why someone would think that young girls are purely trying to seem 'cool' or are trying to get attention when they say they are suffering from a mental illness. But the main thing it comes down to is how are you to know if they are truly suffering or not..? Without actually getting into their mind and seeing things the way they do, how will you truly know if they have a mental illness or not. Telling someone who is truly suffering with anxiety that they are just attention seeking and only saying that they are suffering just to be 'cool' can really do more damage than is necessary, it can leave them feeling alone and helpless and basically just like they can't talk to anyone about how they're feeling or why they are down or nervous or anxious... it's really not a great place to be, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Anxiety can already cause a lot of these things and force people to keep their feelings bottled up, so adding stigma on top of this is just really not fun at all! 

HOW HAS STIGMA EFFECTED ME?

Luckily, since finally admitting to myself and my closest friends and family that I have anxiety no one has come to me and said that I am purely attention seeking... but stigma has effected my life in many other ways. I think the main effect is that it stopped me from admitting I had anxiety to anyone other than my boyfriend in the beginning - I genuinely didn't tell anyone for around 2-3 months until my boyfriend had to convince me to tell my Mum! I suppose I just didn't know how she and my family would react, I knew they wouldn't be nasty or rude but I was still nervous that they would see my anxiety as a 'phase' or as a cry for attention because of all the stigma surrounding it (Obviously none of them did this and they were all very lovely about it!) In this way, it also stopped me from telling my people like teachers and that at uni... my anxiety really effects my attendance at university because sometimes I just can't physically leave the house, so obviously my attendance at university does really suffer sometimes - it gets to the point where I am called in for meetings and it just makes things 10 times worse. Obviously in these meetings I have to explain that I have anxiety and everything and I just feel like I'm using it as a huge excuse to stay in bed. A lot of the time I just wish I had told my uni lecturers before it got to this point but I suppose I just thought because of stigma it would be seen as another way of getting attention.. 


WHAT CAN WE DO TO PREVENT STIGMA?


So, in order to spread positivity and to stop the stigma I have a few important things we can follow - in the form of some of my favourite quotes to help you remember them by!
  1. 'If your mind is so closed why is your mouth so open?' - read up on the true facts of mental health because we all know there are so many myths out there that people believe to be true!! If we really understand the facts behind mental health we can build a better understanding of what people are going through.
  2. 'Don't judge a book by it's cover.'- judging people is a natural process that we all have when we first see someone, whether its positive or negative we can't really help that.. But it's so important to see people as people and not as labels or stereotypes! With mental health it is so important to see beyond a person's mental illness, they have so many amazing qualities behind their mental health and you should try hard to see that! 
  3. 'Speak only when it improves the silence.' - This one is fairly common sense and that is just to be nice, and choose your words carefully. Remember that your words can really effect someone and stick with them.. so in the words of Thumper: 'if you can't say nothing nice, don't say nothing at all!' 
  4. 'Radiate positive vibes.' - if you come across a friend or coworker or anyone who has a negative attitude towards mental health, challenge their view and correct them! 
  5. 'We are less when we don't include everyone' - People with mental health issues can often feel left out of excluded so always go that extra mile to include everyone. 


Anways, I hope you enjoyed this quick post on stigma, stigma is just sometime that truly gets on my nerves so please please pass this on so we can educate those who don't see mental health with a positive light and then we might get a step closer to stopping stigma for good! 


10 comments :

  1. This is spot on!

    As someone who suffers with anxiety but keeps it quite well controlled I definitely get the 'attention-seeking' stigma attached with it. It is such a shame that although anxiety is getting more and more awareness through social media that is almost coming with the negative stigma attached.

    Thank you for highlighting this :)

    Robyn | RobynLouiiise

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    1. I'm glad you can relate - I'm in the exact same boat as you!! I agree, it's nice that there is more of a understanding of mental health, but annoying that it brings about a lot of stigma! x

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  2. You said it all, Jemma. I applaud you.

    A lot of things you mentioned get on my nerves a lot. Especially when people call out real suffers for 'seeking attention'. And most of them aren't even familiar with what real anxiety feels like and just for the lack of understanding they assume that it is simply ridiculous.

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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    1. Thanks so much :) I'm really glad you liked it, since I was a little nervous to post about such a touchy subject!!
      I completely agree with you there - lack of understanding is definitely a huge problem with stigma x

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  3. Brilliant Post Jemma. Thanks for being so open and honest. Stigma remains a reality sadly, but slowly but surely we're making progress by having discussion like this one.

    Zoe - www.ibelieveinromeo.com

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    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment :)
      I'm glad that people are beginning to understand the negativity of stigma, and I hope one day we can actually get rid of stigma for good! x

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  4. This is so accurate and relateable! Go you for being open and honest about this. ^_^

    https://theremightbecoffee.wordpress.com/

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    1. I'm really glad you could relate!! :) x

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  5. I think you nailed it in this post, not just for anxiety, but for lots of other mental illnesses too. I have suffered depression since I was 16 and spent from around the age of 20 onwards with PTSD and, by extension, anxiety, the latter of which I feel I still carry with me even if the PTSD itself doesn't affect me the same way any more. Stigmas attached to mental illness are very cruel and unnecessary, and I think a lot of it stems from a lack of knowledge on the subject and the illnesses. People need to educate themselves before shooting their mouth off, and if they still feel the same way, they need to remember that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. My mother taught me that as a child and it's something I still hold true to this day!

    Amanda Jayne | beauty, style, life

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    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, I completely agree with you! A lot of the people who are creating stigma are the one's who know nothing about mental health and that really annoys me! I just wish there was a way to end it! x

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