Stigma Fighters: Al Colvin

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Stigma Fighters: Al Colvin

Stigma Can Destroy You!

Once the biggest challenges of preventing suicides and improving the lives of so many affected by mental illness is the stigma attached to it. Stigma has the ability to rob any person blind like a thief in the night. It does not discriminate nor does it care that it is absolutely destroying your quality of life. The saddest thing I have come to realize about stigma is that it is nothing more than a false belief. This false belief my friends if you aren’t careful, will rob you of your best friend, your mother or father and has no problem of driving you to believe that it is more ideal for you to suffer and dwell in throws of your illness than to reach out to family, friends and love ones for emotional support and medical professionals for mental health treatments.

So what is stigma anyways? Well, I’m pleased you asked. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition is {a set of negative beliefs that a society or group of people have about something}. The most striking thing about this definition is the words negative beliefs and the term group of people. Why are these words so interesting? Quite simply because if stigma is nothing more than negative beliefs by certain people, then why in the world would any human being not recognize stigma for what it is? The short answer is: stigma provokes fear. However, if you acknowledge stigma for what it is, then it’s possible to turn that negative into a positive, and accept immediately that it truly does not matter what society thinks of you. If you can radically accept this, then this very moment will become the turning point in your life and you can truly begin being your true self. You can now talk about depression, discuss schizophrenia openly in order to improve relationships and create a support network so we don’t have to walk through the madness and darkness alone. Talking mental illness and emotional well-being freely, often and in a positive constructive manner instantly begins to tear down the false beliefs and negativism and magically the fear of stigma begins to fade and the feeling of liberation comes upon you.

Tearing down the stigma is absolutely crucial in the fight to prevent suicides and improve mental health globally. This false belief destroys the soul and literally ends the lives of so many beautiful people, because stigma has this profound ability to provoke paralyzing fear that will stop a person from talking to their own parents or children about their struggles when they are emotionally distraught, and instead take their life. It’s this fear that is the negative that keeps so many people from talking to their love ones and friends about the fact that they struggle with PTSD or Bipolar disorder. This fear, if it is not grasped firmly and immediately shut down will cause catastrophic results. In my opinion, it does not matter how smart you are, how wealthy or accomplished, nor does it matter what race or culture, if you fail to recognize your emotions, use proper coping methods to pull them into perspective and shut them down, fear of stigma will destroy your very being.

I’m certain you may wonder how I come to such strong opinions. Well, I’m not a physician, not a psychologist nor am I a licensed therapist. I am my friends, a middle aged male that has been thrown into the worst throws of the madness more than once in my life. It is unfortunate that I was faced with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) at a time in my life when I was truly happy. I was loving my career, enjoying traveling the world, meeting new people and full of life. As luck would have it, this evil injury to my brain leads me to suffer PTSD, anxiety disorders, major depression, seizure disorders and if that wasn’t enough of a challenge for one person, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis to keep the party interesting. As you may know, multiple sclerosis (MS) cares a tremendous amount of stigma within itself. That fear of disclosure it is eating souls alive. This disease also has a high rate of depression with a significant number of people diagnosed, committing suicide.

So trust me, being that I now have the pleasure of writing my thoughts in a manner you can understand, it is truly a miracle. It is a miracle because I am also a two time suicide attempt survivor. So not only did I bow down to the stigma and allow it to consume me with fear of what the world thinks of my illnesses, I literally fell for the irrational thinking and false beliefs that nearly eliminated me from this world; not once, but twice!

How did I pull myself out the darkness? Answer: a tremendous amount of work talking through my struggles, learning coping methods, deciding that my life matters and accepting that I could care less about what the world think of me and my illness. I decided to live! You may wonder why after two attempts and I’m still here. Well, I exist today to tell every person that will listen, to tear down the stigma! Tear it down and shut down the false beliefs and end the shame and guilt. You are not your illness and regardless of where you are currently with you health, it is not where the story has to end. I accepted it! I’m no better than any of you and I am literally writing the next chapter of my life. I am pleased to talk about the skeletons that once occupied my closet, for the sake of fighting stigma!

So, I am not ashamed to talk down the false beliefs. My name is Al, I have a TBI, PTSD, depression and MS, and no I will not flip out into the my madness and wreak havoc on your community in a radically insane manner as if I am ‘Mega Tron’ my favorite Transformer. I am human and my life matters and so does yours. Regardless of your mental illness friends, you matter, you are here, you take up space and if you have enough air in your lungs to fog a mirror, then you matter! It does not matter what color race or culture or mental health diagnosis, your life matters!
In distress or when you just need someone to listen, reach out then TALK ABOUT IT! Talk it to the conversation is exhausted.

Be encouraged, tear down the stigma by talking the down the imaginary beast you built up in your minds. The world can fight off stigma, by simply beginning to exhaust the conversation. Talk about it! Educate the misinformed. Don’t allow stigma to rob you of your friend, your mother or father, and certainly don’t allow it to rob them of you! Stigma can destroy your very existence, but ONLY if you concur with the false beliefs!

AlMy Name is Al Colvin

I am currently a Suicide Prevention Advocate, MS Activist, Motivational Speaker, Humanitarian and Business Development Professional. I am currently all about tearing down stigma!

Al can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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By | 2015-10-30T14:29:06+00:00 October 31st, 2015|Categories: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Stigma Fighters|0 Comments

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