Nuime.com is a blogging platform which contains postings I selected from this blog, as well as, personal articles that I have written over the years with a mixture of other topics.
I was delighted when chosen “Niumer of the Week” and the opportunity to be interviewed. Here’s how it went:
Depression and mental illness affect many people all over the world, but despite its prevalence, it is still met with stigma, silence and even scepticism. There is still a notion many hold, that people who claim to be depressed are ‘making it up’, ‘seeking attention’ or just ‘feel sad’ and will get over it in time.
But the question still remains, why do we shy away from this topic and what do people who suffer from mental illness go through on a day to day basis?
Niumer Of The Week, Deb from Living in Stigma, bravely gives us her thoughts and explains what we can do to understand this issue better.
1) How did you discover Niume and why did you decide to use it over other blogging platforms?
Niume approached me via Twitter, so I checked your site out and was impressed by the layout and features offered. I have ‘signed up’ with other blogging platforms but my posts were not acquiring much exposure and others didn’t have well-defined spheres to post in. It became frustrating and I soon left.
2) Which of the others spheres do you enjoy browsing through?
I browse through most of the spheres, however, my favourites are Literature, Interesting, Humour, Lifestyle, Photography, Music and Art.
3) What are some of the biggest misconceptions about depression and mental health?
One word – Stigma. Mental illness is not a choice; it’s an illness. Who would choose to have an illness, and be so embarrassed and ashamed of it? This leads to isolation, fear, fake smiles, feeling hopeless, and worthless.
Words sting and people struggling with depression face: “you’re lazy”, “get over it”, “you’re just using this as an excuse”, or “are you even trying to get better?”. Would somebody say that to an individual with another severe illness such as heart disease or cancer?
Quote: “1 in 4 people, like me. have a mental health problem. Many more have a problem with that”. Stephen Fry
4) Why do you think mental health still has a strong stigma attached to it despite continuous efforts to create a healthier conversation around the topic?
Society has been educated more about mental health compared to a decade ago, and with that has reduced stigma to some degree. One setback is, what society views on media are that people with mental illness are a danger to society.
People are beginning to have a better awareness of mental illness and depression, yet those fighting this illness, at times withhold feelings, don’t receive support from family, unsure of who to contact for help or believe ‘it will just go away’.
5) You also focus on sexual and emotional abuse. Recently, US Pop star Kesha spoke out about alleged abuse at the hands of her producer, Dr Luke. Do you think high profile cases like this, Bill Cosby and Jimmy Savile ect, have given victims more confidence to speak out and report abuse?
Yes, definitely. It’s a disgrace that celebrities have to be in the news or come forward and share their personal stories of abuse. But, to make people aware of the reality of sexual or emotional abuse, it encourages more people who were abused to come forward and seek help.
6) What do you think local health workers, governing bodies and national health care services can do to better encourage the conversation about mental health and enable people to seek help?
I would hope they would encourage people to share their experiences and the challenges they face every day. Listen and validate their struggles, have respect, show empathy.
7) Much has been said about social media being linked to an increase of stress and depression in individuals, particularly young adults. Do you believe there is any correlation yourself.
I’ve read about “social media depression’, yet I’m unsure if it’s been officially diagnosed. It has been noted that some young adults have become addicted to their social media, always on alert for messages or live in isolation, preferring to hang out at home instead of socializing outside with others. Also, they may only be sharing their depressive feelings or suicidal thoughts anonymously over the internet, instead of seeking help locally.
8) What do you think is the number one thing that stops people from seeking professional help?
People don’t want other people to know what they are struggling with. They also want to hide the fact that they are taking medications, attending therapy and their illness is serious.
9) What advice would you give to anyone suffering from mental illness or trauma from abuse?
If you are a survivor (always see yourself as a survivor and not a victim) of sexual or emotional abuse PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), you’ve shown strength, so believe in yourself and pat yourself on the back for your courage. As a child, you weren’t given a choice about what happened to you, but now as an adult survivor, you can now choose a path towards healing from trauma and begin the recovery process, but will require lots of support.
Support may come via friends, family, support groups in your area, sometimes hospitals will have groups for PTSD, individual therapy (ensure you seek out an Experienced Trauma Therapist).
It’s not uncommon to feel guilt, shame, have low self-esteem or have depressive feelings. Remember, children don’t abuse themselves. It’s a long journey during the healing process, when old painful memories surface and sudden flashbacks or triggers appear within a split second without notice. Be patient and kind to yourself. You’re brave and you’ve come a long way already.