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Stigma Against Mentally Ill
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bipoet001 posted:
In my area we've been working hard to spotlight the talents, productivity and creativity of those who are also mentally ill mostly bipolar. We had some momentum going and had state politicians listening. Then it has to happen again...an unstable mentally ill soldier wounds and kills other before taking his own life. How do we stand up against this. A shoe of nice things we've done, is not going to erase the fear and distrust that the term mental illness raise. I've seen it, I've seen it happen to others over and over. How can we contribute if people are afraid of what we'll do. And deep down, I have to wonder, what stress, anxiety, pressure, rage, urgency would push me to anywhere near that point...because even with years of meds, therapy and stability, I cannot say for sure that it isn't in me somewhere down deep. How frightening. No wonder no one wants to hire us.
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ddnos responded:
Hello bipoet - funny you bring up this topic because it's been on my mind off and on for the past month or so.

The sad thing about stigma against those with mental illness(es) is that the majority (if not all) of those who stigmatize us do so based on the horrible side of mental illness depicted in the movies and of course, the real life tragedies such as the one you talked about. That side of mental illness is indeed true, but it can't fairly be the standard by which all people with mental illnesses are judged.

You asked how do we stand against this? How do we even have a chance to win the war against stigma when very true things continue to happen and are put in the spotlight? I believe that part of the answer is that we, as people with mental illness(es) need to take more seriously our role in how other's view mental illness. The other face of stigma against mental illness is perpetuated by those who, though they don't commit horrific crimes as you mentioned, they use mental illness as an excuse to behave however they want to. They tell themselves that it's ok to do or say such and such because after all, they have a mental illness. I think it's that group of people who feed and instill a deeper stigma against mental illness than those who commit horrific crimes and/or who are obviously and visibly mentally ill because they refuse treatment. I believe that it's worse because they are making a choice.

So again, in my opinion - I can't stop stigma against mental illness all over the world, but I can certainly have an impact on people in my world by demonstrating with my life that having a mental illness doesn't make me less than anyone without one; and that mental illness doesn't mean that I am automatically violent, or incapable of making adult, smart decisions, or that people with mental illnesses can't be doctors, lawyers, scientists, presidents, and anything in between if they want to! They (the non-mentally ill) can only see that through me and through you. If we all do our part at each end of the earth, eventually some of those people will change their minds. So let's work on stamping out stigma in our own corners of the earth, and if we all do that - well what an amazing thing that will be, huh?

Debbie
Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different --Unknown
 
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reneegigliotti replied to ddnos's response:
WOW Debbie,

I could not have written a better response than you did! That is the key. Each of us, as sufferers with brain disorders, need to show those around us that we take ownership of our illnesses by following treatment plans, seeking support, living productive lives, and NOT using our illnesess as excuses for bad behavior. It is the bad behavior that people see and remember. I can't tell you how many times I've read posts or talked to people who have said people with bipolar disorder use the diagnosis as an excuse to do really awful things to the people around them. I can't deny that some people do use their illness as a ready excuse. They taint all of us though with that stigma of being dangerous and destructive. I think the key is policing ourselves. If we want our illness to be treated with the same respect as other medical illnesses we need to project a much better attitude about responsibility for our own treatment and behavior. The answer to the stigma problem lays with each of us.
 
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designmom651 replied to ddnos's response:
Very well said Debbie!
I feel the same way that I can not change the worlds opinion on the stigma but I can with the people in my life. So therefore I am very open about my illness with those in my daily life. Do I post it on my facebook, no. Though I am sure there are people that questioned my thinking due to post I had while manic. But that is because I don' t see those people on a regular basis and do not feel it is a place I could post without being "judged". But everyone in my daily life are aware and the peolpe that are in my social circle. It is hard to see some people so ill that they only self medicate or do not take advantage of help, therefore hurting themselves and others. It is sad in my opinion. I know if I didnt snap into a some what rational thinking I could of been down a really bad path, even left homeless and lose my son. Luckliy I checked myself into a ER and finally got a diagnoses. But I get why some people want to chase there mania highs. But for me the depression far out ways the benifits of mania.
Niki


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