So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

 

One of the most important things for me, as a person with mental health issues, is to have respect. That word keeps coming back to me as something I most need to have. I don’t mean that I want to be admired or looked up to. I simply want to be  considered human, like others are considered human.

My husband has not always understood what I was doing during those many years when I actively promoted mental health awareness and introduced faith-based support. He did not fully sense what went on inside me. But he’s now reading my book, I Will Not Hide, and I do think he’s starting to respect me more than he did. He read about the difference I made in reducing stigma. He read about my joy in contributing to people’s well-being. And he’s reading how in one brief year, any respect I had—from others and for myself—was stripped away and I was made to feel less than human.

I know one thing. Now, when my husband sees me suffering from the memories of inhumane stigma, I believe he’s understanding the severity of my pain better than before.

That’s the kind of understanding I was trying to achieve with my story. I want readers to appreciate the extent of pain so many suffer, causing them to take their life. Will instilling compassion be able to reduce stigma? I hope so. Because the pain I feel from that one dreadful year keeps returning. And new occasions of stigma are added onto that, even now. I know I’m not the only one who suffers like this. There are many like me.

For years I encouraged people, telling them, “You don’t need to feel shame. You’re human, You can’t help having an illness.”

But I now see that the people who need to be ashamed are those who cause others to feel they’re less than human.

marja

If you haven’t yet checked out my book, “I Will Not Hide”, it’s at http://marjabergen.com/books