Self-stigma, or shame because of societal prejudice, is a common battle for those of us who have mental health conditions. Remind yourself that these are real, physical health conditions hat do not deserve blame and shame any more than a purely physical illness or ailment! Mental health conditions are caused by frequently complex factors including life experience, environment/culture, brain chemistry and genetics, not by lack of positivity, character or strength. In fact, it takes a lot of strength and courage to talk about them and to ask for help amidst the lingering stigma, and the more of us speak up, the less stigma will remain and the less that others will suffer in silence. And although you may feel isolated and alone, you're not at all; nearly 50 percent of all Americans will experience a mental condition in their lifetimes. (See Additional Resources section for more information on myths about mental health, and prevalence of conditions.)
You deserve a helpful response from anyone you share with, but unfortunately, not everyone is willing or able to provide one. Those who are most likely to be understanding and supportive include mental health professionals and friends and family you know well, trust, and know to be compassionate and reliable.
Learning more about your symptoms and condition, whether it's temporary or chronic, furthers both your own understanding and that of anyone you talk to for support. You can also encourage loved ones to read information for themselves, here and elsewhere, especially when there's a lot of information to digest and/or you're finding communication difficult (and that's a common symptom of not only many conditions but of emotional stress in general).
Since many people tend to assume that they're being asked for a solution, let them know if you just want them to listen. But don't hesitate to ask if you could use assistance in brainstorming a solution to one of many practical problems that may arise because of symptoms such as impaired energy, concentration and confidence. For instance, maybe a loved one could make life easier by lending a hand with a chore or errand. If you'd be comfortable asking for assistance because of a physical illness or condition, don't think of this differently.
Counseling and other treatments such as medication, yoga, mindfulness and support groups can all be valuable and sometimes essential. Be aware of key signs of suicidality (see link below). The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. But if you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
Hopelessness is a symptom of many mental health conditions. But in reality, there is reason for hope. Treatment helps manage symptoms, improve quality of life and even achieve recovery for many!