It's time to stop ‘pill shaming’ people with anxiety and depression.

After almost three years of being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I recently found out that I have bipolar disorder.

Taking six pills daily is what keeps me afloat. I'm writing this in the hope that it will help just one person feel confident enough to seek help. Or to speak out and break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Pill shaming is toxic, and it's time to break down the societal taboo. Having a mental illness is hard enough as it is without the pill shaming stigma that floats among those struggling. There is so much misinformation out there about antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs — that they're addictive or that you're weak for taking them.


That's not the case.

Exercise, eating healthy, and keeping busy are enough for some people, but others need that extra bit of help to enable them to live a "normal," happy life.

Don't we all deserve that? A life neither ruled by fear nor crushed by depression and anxiety? In the same way you'd wear glasses to help you see better, some people take a pill (or six) to give them the assistance they need to help their mind. And that's OK.

Just because it isn't physical, visible, or tangible doesn't mean that mental illness is less of a disease. And just like any other disease, there's no shame in accepting the assistance of medication. It doesn't make you any less human, it doesn't make you weak or any less capable of doing the job, writing the essay, or completing the degree — the same way a person without a mental illness would.

By acknowledging the issue and accepting the assistance of medication, personally, I think you're admirable. Because it is often the people who take meds that are the strong ones, the fighters.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar, borderline personality disorder — none of these illnesses are flaws in character or flaws in self. You don't need to feel ashamed of them.

We can all work together to break this stigma pattern. For one, educate yourself. Find out more about these illnesses before jumping on the stigma stallion.

If you are a person with a mental illness, you don't need to feel ashamed or guilty for seeking help and taking medication. If you're the friend, the partner, the family member, the employer — it shows only naivety and ignorance when you pill-shame others. Instead, learn about mental illnesses, their treatments, and how the person is coping. Maybe even adopt a supportive, accepting attitude.

For anyone who's going through a dark patch right now, I'm here for you. Talk, take meds if you need to, go for jogs, walk the dog, go to therapy, drink some herbal tea. And if you need them, take the meds.

One glove doesn't fit all, but everything's worth a try. Don't be afraid — seek help. End the stigma.

Family

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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