We know about celebrities' dating lives, but we don't always know about their struggles with mental illness. Gina Rodriguez (anxiety), John Hamm (chronic depression) and Demi Lovato (bipolar disorder) have been willing to talk about what it takes to manage their disease.
That's enormously important, because stigma against mental illness keeps many people from getting the treatment they need to manage it and to accomplish their life goals.
Can you imagine a boss or family member saying to someone: "You have psoriasis? Well, pull yourself together and stop being so self-indulgent!"
But that's often said or implied to folks who are coping with emotional-health issues.
So, how do you dodge the negative effects of stigma?
1. Talk openly about your condition when appropriate. Hiding it only fosters shame and self-doubt. Mental illness, like chronic physical illness, is a disease.
2. Don't go it alone. Seek professional help to manage the physical and emotional aspects of the disease. Remember, safe medicines and psychosocial treatments are highly effective.
3. Replace "I am bipolar," with "I have bipolar disease." You are not your condition.
4. Join a support group and find a buddy.
Managing any chronic disease is tough enough without having to fend off people's ignorance. So take a stand and make sure someone (doctors, counselors, support group members, family) is standing alongside you.
You'll help your buddy as he or she helps you; the reward of helping someone makes everyone younger and healthier.
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