STRUGGLING with DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, or BIPOLARITY? LEARNING can really HELP. Start with ARTICLES above or Topics below. Ty! Bill

Mental Health Stigma: It’s alive, and it hurts

Mental Illness Stigma

“I can’t believe it. She finds out I’m being treated for depression – and she doesn’t want to see me anymore? I’m heartbroken…”

How could we expect him to realize it just now, but he’s much better off. It’s amazing to me that in these days of sophistication and enlightenment, stigma is routinely attached to an emotional/mental health disorder. However, it’s fact – and in acknowledgement lies the potential for change.

Stigma was the subject matter of the chipur newsletter two weeks ago. The response was so encouraging that I decided to run a piece for all to read and act upon.

Stigma Is Alive, and It Hurts

When a human being is denied freedom and dignity, something is definitely wrong – and requires correction. Come on, if you’ve ever been the target, you know how much it hurts.

And the slinging of arrows and taking of pain continues. For the tens of millions of people worldwide enduring an emotional/mental health disorder, the injustice never ends.

Definition

So we can absorb the full impact of stigma, let’s pull together pieces of merriam-webster.com’s definition…

  • A scar left by a hot iron
  • A mark of shame or discredit
  • Stain
  • An identifying mark or characteristic; specifically: a specific diagnostic sign of a disease

As someone who’s spent a lifetime coming to know and manage panic and generalized anxiety disorders, anxiety-associated depression, and alcoholism; the definitions hit hard.

How ’bout you?

Together, We’ll Make a Difference

I’d like to share a revision of a piece I included at the beginning of my panic and anxiety eWorkbook, Panic! …and Poetic Justice. I think you’ll be able to connect, and find it meaningful…

Together, We’ll Make A Difference

Perhaps like you, I endure disorders that affect how I receive, process, and respond to my world – and self. In lieu of using the term mental illness, perpetuating stigma, I’m going to say I have a mind variance.

It’s not any different from having heart disease or diabetes. After all, last I looked we have but one body; with no above-or-below the neck distinction.

Time was, going public with a mind variance would just about end whatever hope you had of living a routine life. Yes, society’s knowledge of your situation would only exacerbate the problems with which you were already dealing.

Fortunately, things are a little better in the early years of the 21st Century; however, society still has a long way to go with regard to its perception and treatment of those living with a mind variance.

It’s believed one of every four adult Americans endures a diagnosable mind variance. Yet, some 70% of these don’t seek treatment because of roadblocks such as lack of education and personal insight, stigma, and inadequate or non-existent health insurance. It’s my guess that the numbers are similar worldwide.

Something is very definitely wrong with this picture.

Should you come to the conclusion that you endure a mind variance, I want you to hold your head high. You have nothing about which to be ashamed or embarrassed.

Indeed, your self-candor and courage are most admirable.

Please join me in announcing – it’s okay to have a mind variance! Because the only way society is going to completely embrace us is if we step forward together and demand to be counted.

As far as we’ve come, there’s still a bright and shiny badge of disgrace pinned upon those dealing with a mind variance. And, as a result, we are all too often improperly judged and unfairly treated in the workplace, at school, with regard to insurance, and in other arenas of essential life-functioning.

This must change.

Yes, I endure a mind variance. And my situation deserves the same respect, freedom from prejudice, and opportunities for treatment afforded other health challenges. Period!

Let’s Wrap

If you’ve endured an emotional/mental health disorder for any length of time, I’m thinking you can identify with the down-to-the-bone pain our jilted man is dealing with.

It hurts, it isn’t right, and it’s gotta’ stop!

Would you like to make an impact? Here are just two resources for you to check-out…

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “Fight Stigma” Page

bring change 2mind

To catch a listing of the almost 270 chipur articles on the psychology of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder; just click here.

  • Megan

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this played out on dating sites. People post things like, “If you need a pill to make it through the day, then you’re not right for me” or the infamous, “No crazies!” It gets crueler than that but why should I open this Pandora’s box of shame and retribution. Once you mention to these people that you are human and have problems they are already out the door and two miles away from you. I wish for just once people could see me for who I am. I wish people would relate to others– not as superficial human beings but as a soul talking to another soul. That is naive I realize but I still wish that. The only one who can really see my soul is God but I know that man judges by other factors. The problem is that no one wants to take away the stigma MORE than those with the mental illnesses (mentally variances). I doubt this will never be undone. The mentally ill make such good targets for all those wonderfully “normal” people out there. I’d take a broken soul over a normal soul. At least I know that the pain brings more insight and “humanity” than the one that is never passed through the fire or the one that has slinked through the trial.

    • Thank you, Megan!!!

      • Megan

        I have also lost three jobs when I admitted I have depression and/or have panic attacks. That statement says it all. I bet these former bosses of mine can’t explain English like I can with my degree. Oh, well. I’d prefer not to work with two-faced people who do hard drugs and laugh about it while reprimanding me for to smiling enough and telling me the customers don’t care how I am feeling. Oh, and guess what? One of the women who fired me was at the mental health clinic with me one day. She tried to talk to me but I just kept on reading the magazine. I guess she should get off her high horse because what comes around goes around. If you are mentally ill and fire someone else because he or she is mentally ill then you might as well resign and stop being a two faced liar.

      • And there you have it! Like I always say, one is more than welcome to use Chipur to “get it out” anyday, anytime…