Society has not always been kind to those with mental illness. We all heard the “insane asylum” stories from our great grandparents time. We still have a long way to go but getting better.
How many of you diagnosed with a mental illness have face some sort of discrimination , at your job ? Within your social circles and family? Even from strangers or agencies.
I met a surprising number people and heard on stories about people being denied entry to countries based off a old suicide attempt to family and friends being disowned or harshly judged. Yet, we are pushing for our society to be open about mental illness and we still hear of terms like that so schizo, bipolar, psychotic, depressed to describe a negative situations or way. When we use these terms in a negative light, we are essentially perpetuating the stereotypes. The media does not help this at all, how many news stories where we hear the reporter state comments like the ” …killer had history of mental illness.” We here of people being fired or treated differently when their employer find out they have a mental illness. We still hear of people being judged so harshly without the facts being known or by people that love them.
Here are some the stereotype’s I have heard:
Bipolar= crazy, psychotic, lazy, using it as an excuse for bad behaviour.
Schizophrenia: Killers, Psychotic killers, dangerous violent, lazy.
Depression: Lazy, needs to get over themselves.
PTSD: Crazy, Weak, Need to get over it
ADHD: Not a real disorder, they need to try harder, do not care about the consequences
Personality Disorders (all generalized): manipulative , selfish, Psychopath, Sociopath, attention seeking.
Notice a common theme? All the perceptions of mental ill peopleare negative.
Do generalize people as these things with a physical illness with out getting to know the person? I do not think so, then why is this attached to individuals with mental illness. People seem to think that your mental illness is you, even if they known you for years, they forget you are a person and not an illness. It’s like saying a cancer patient is like cancer, and utterly wrong and makes no sense.
We have be careful generalize mental health disorders and really need to start promoting good things about how we can over come the illness and what people are really are like, especially in the media. So, I am going to start:
So you have:
Bipolar Disorder, I want you to know you are = Creative, Passionate, loving, Intelligent, Strong, Worthy
Schizophrenia, I want you to know you are =Loving, Caring, Intelligent, Worthy, Creative
Depression, I want you to know you are : Strong, Caring, Hardworking, Intelligent, Worthy, Creative
ADHD,I want you to know you are = Creative, Strong, Intelligent, Loving and Caring, Worthy
Personality Disorder, I want you to know you are : Creative, Strong, Intelligent, Loving and Caring, Worthy
I stopped using these as adjectives and call people out respectfully now who do. Sometimes we don’t think when we say “Wtf, she so bipolar.” I remember I felt hearing things before I told people in my being diagnosed. I would hear things from friends who did not know my diagnosis and did not realize the harm they were causing to me when I heard it.
I would walk away feeling so ashamed, embarrassed and worthless one more then one .
I wrote “Confrontation ” to challenge my feelings associated with stigma I received and heard ands I healthy way to educate, ignore and advocating changing mental illness.
This is confrontation:
You are sitting in a room with a circle of people around you. They are trapping you in. These people are some
of your family, friends, past and present lovers, co workers and strangers.
“You are doing this for attention.”
“Why don’t you just kill yourself already.”
“You are bipolar, that is why your so fucking crazy.”
“Schizophrenia, take your meds so you don’t kill me in psychosis.”
“You cant have PTSD, you just can not handle stress.”
“Stop being depressed your life is not as bad as others.”
“Your so weak, for attempting suicide.”
“Your so selfish for wanting to die.”
“Anxiety we all have it , do you see me breaking down.”
“The anger you expressing is your mental illness or any emotion.”
“Let’s not give them a promotion because her mental illness makes them incompetent.”
“You are just doing this to get away bad behaviour.”
“Mental illness is not real.”
“ENOUGH” you yell. “Are you all so fucking perfect?” You proceed to say to each of them their faults back to prove otherwise. They are all crying shocked at your cruelty.
This is not what you wanted, to hurt them back. You wanted to them to understand your mental illness and the damage their actions and words were doing to you.
At that moment your breath hitches, you realize that those who judge you do not matter and getting back is at them is not worth it or will help make them understand. What is really important is you understand you are not a stereotype or what others perceive you as, because those who matter do not mind. Keep them close and nourish your relationship with them, not those who judge you. Be yourself and not the stereotypes we give those with mental illness in society. You are still you before the illness and after, the same loveable person you have always been.
Deep breath in, you just won the battle against your demons.
Mia V. “
I want empathize this on World Bipolar Day, for all not just with bipolar that you are amazing and not your illness, and well you cannot control others actions and prejudices, you can control your feelings and reactions and know you are not the stereotypes given by having a diagnosis of a mental illness. Instead, educate society by by actions and showing the opposite what is out there and de-stigmatized the concept of mental illness.
I’d love to hear from you, what stereotypes have you been expose too? How did you overcome dealing with the stigma from society? Your story is important too.