Vampires are among the most misunderstood mythical creatures. Maybe they are pale, attractive, with dark bruises under their eyes. Perhaps they are monsters in the dark, resting during the day and hunting in the evenings. They are believed to feast on human blood. Some say they will dissolve like a wicked witch under a bucket of Holy water, or disintegrate when they step into the light of day. Others believe they will twinkle in the sunshine. Popular delusions insist that The Reaper visits them with wooden stakes to the heart, exorcisms, death by nemesis. Rumor reveals that they are allergic to garlic. Presumably, these beings cannot enter your home without your invitation. Though vampires are fictional, their details are ambiguous.
There are also common misconceptions about mental illness. Psychiatric illnesses do not yield tangible evidence. This causes many to disbelieve. It creates a realm for guessing and closed minds. We think nothing can touch us until it slaps us in the face. Some think that mood swings equal bipolar disorder; depression is comprised of brief feelings of despair. Anxiety cripples us all, no matter how far we will go to play the part of “normal.” Vampires may not exist, but the whole truths of mental illness elude us like shadows as we stumble in the dark.
The media paints with thick oil. The layers of truth lie so far beneath the surface, and the canvas is still wet. “Ignorance is bliss” covers the top coat. Many are afraid of the unknown. We want to escape our fears with a brush, wash our hands and walk away empty. The media suffocates the truth and replaces it with rumors and judgement. Without key ingredients, they force feed the stigma.
We are all surrounded by adversity too heavy to carry alone. Sharing this burden lightens our load. Everyone needs a shoulder, whether or not you have a psychiatric disorder, you are a family member, or a friend. Instead of viewing people as cases, we must open our eyes and see neighbors.
When we can see, believe, and certainly know, there is no room for “probably,” or “maybe.” We have bested the unknown. We have outrun the real monsters.