Today, I really wanted to write about stigma. I’m not sure if this post will succeed or fail. Perhaps any discussion of the topic is a step in the right direction, but at the same time, discussion may not always insinuate change.
Up until a few nights ago, I had never in my life met another hypochondriac. I’ve always assumed that in its chronic form, hypochondria is rare. Maybe it is. At the same time though, no one talks about any form of anxiety, unless you seek those conversations out. Really, these sorts of conditions should be naturally brought up in random everyday conversations, but instead we mainly refer to mental illness as a third person; never really something we meet. It’s really on (and inside) most of our minds constantly.
I had hidden this blog from everyone except for close friends, content on keeping my longest-running struggles a sort of secret. But the other day, I just felt the pointlessness of it, and decided to share my blog on facebook. A lot of people commented with support, which I really appreciated, and many people voiced their desires to create blogs of their own. The thing that really stuck with me though, was the one private message I received. It was from a new acquaintance; someone who I met through school; someone who I had sat beside in lecture a few days before. This individual wrote that they had similar experiences with anxiety and that they have been struggling with hypochondriasis their entire life.
It always astounds me, the way people connect, and the way we choose who we want to connect with. You could be sitting in a coffee shop beside your future partner, but perhaps wouldn’t truly meet them for the first time until five years later. Or maybe you spotted your best friend around the city, years before you became even acquaintances. No one can ever predict a meeting or a connection, and sometimes the most significant relations happen when you least expect them to. The person next to you at any moment may feel your exact happiness, or pain, or understand you so completely without yet knowing you, and I think that’s an important thought to remember.
So on the topic of stigma, I think it’s sort of sad, the way that it takes so long for people to connect or trust each other. I’ve always been obsessed with secrets, perhaps because inherently, no one ever really talks openly about them.
People can talk about stomping on stigma all they want. I’m a women’s studies major, I know that there is activism surrounding this topic. But unless people share their stories and their secrets, no one will ever truly want discuss anything.