Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Sting of Stigma; "The Wind Never Lies" Part 3 PTSd Stigma; a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. Medicine/Medical: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease

This post is a follow up to a very real issue that anyone who is labeled with the words "mental illness" faces; the discrimination that comes with the stigma of being "marked" as different.

Here is a link to "The Wind Never Lies" part 1.

Here is a link to The Sting of Stigma and Unconditional Love; The Wind Never Lies Part 2

Below is the continuation of this very important conversation during this years "May is Mental Health Awareness Month"...which seems to me a tad ironic since it's not "Mental Health" that is stigmatized but those who bear the mark of the beast - "Mental Illness".

This experience of stigma, shame, discrimination is more common than many realize. Once given this "mark", the label of "mental illness" the battle becomes not just one of learning to cope when our internal resources are clearly depleted - but also a fight for ones basic rights to be treated with dignity and respect and oftentimes a battle just to be heard.

Rebekah at Facebook left this comment about Part 2 of this series and gave me permission to share it here:

"I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 5 years ago and was on meds for all of that time and went through the emotions that Steve talked about (The Wind Never Lies) and no one would listen to me after I was given that label and hospitalized twice, and they still dont, but I know that what I REALLY have is PTSD, and no amount of mood stabilizing medication makes that better, misdiagnosis is so common and so many people just take the meds and dont question it, but now I am finally dealing with the REAL problem and things are getting better. Thank you Susan for posting this :)"

Thank you Rebekah, for being willing to share your story with us.

Stigma; a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. Medicine/Medical: a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease

If you've had a similar experience I'd like to invite you to contact me if you would like to share your story in some way.

You can leave your comment here or reach me via Facebook here or Twitter here.

Q: How has the label of "mental illness" affected your life - good or bad?


Woundedgenius said...

This is brilliant! Its really important, what you are doing here. Love this series of posts - thanks!

Unknown said...

WG - welcome to my world! I am thrilled to see you here and so appreciate your support and encouragement! I am grateful to know that this is a message that others find valuable. This so reinforces to me that this will continue to be a part of the work and writing that I do. The responses have been amazing!

Anonymous said...

I noticed that no one gets flowers in the psych hospital. As the central office secretary for the school district, I ordered dozens of bouquets for employees, spouses and students when there was an illness or injury. People in my small town have fundraisers, bottle drives and public suppers when someone has surgery, but when I had a psychotic break and landed in the psych ward? Not so much as a card. No one would talk about it, people avoided me. No one noticed when my car was repossessed - by then most of the friends I though I had faded away. Some people even accused me of making it all up, for attention. Funny, I never heard anyone accuse someone of making up a gall bladder attack or cancer...

Kristin said...

lifeisterminal is am so sorry. It is so unfair.
Your post is great, Susan. Thank you.
Even in my own family the stigma reins. My daughter is "spoiled" not mentally ill. The book I wrote about her struggle and our family's fruitless search for help should be put under the bed and forgotten. Or, better yet, destroyed. And, on the count of three, smile - everyone, no exceptions.
Only, it doesn't work like that for my daughter and trying to explain why she doesn't feel like smiling is impossible because no one believes me.
Like I made up mental illness to cover for her "bad behavior".
It is disappointing but I hope that the more people talk openly about mental illness, the more the stigma will fall away.
xx kris

Unknown said...

lifeisterminal ~ I have to say I am so sorry that this is what your experience has been. You gave of yourself and when in need your needs went unmet. There are no words for me to express my anger at these injustices. You are not alone here. I'm so glad you came by to comment. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Unknown said...

Kristin; thank you. Your support and encouragement means so much to me and what I am doing here. Sadly, some families are not that soft place to fall when things are hard for us. I'm sorry to hear that your and your daughter must face these issues within your family. The more we rise up and speak up the more we will be heard. This is the beginning of change.

I'm glad you came by today Kristin :)

Unknown said...

I am posting this for someone who got "booted" from blogger when trying to leave a comment...

From Sara...Blogger wouldn't let me comment on your blog....but it wouldn't give me the letters to enter to verify that I was indeed a flesh and blood person... I tried three times and even rebooted.Given that, I guess I must really want to have you see my words... so I am putting them here...

@ lifeisterminal... you could be telling my story. It is about 30 years now that I have been ranting that not enough attention is paid to life traumas... at first, I even experienced sheer dismissal and disdain to suggest I was a victim of trauma - that I didn't live through the great depression, that I wasn't a holocaust survivor, that I didn't lose a limb in WWII.
Fast forward to now... I am almost 60 years old and by nature a decent person. My main abuser is dead for the past decade; his accessory is still very much alive and kicking at 92 - my mom denies to this day that he hit me/us til he drew blood. He was a pillar of the community and he and my mom had the terrible misfortune of adopting a defective baby - I was bad to the bone - I was not observant of his religion, I liked to wear pants and makeup and the like. I didn't do well in school. I stole change so I could buy candy which offered me the only solace. For that I was sequestered at 17 in a mental health facility on their sayso by a doc who never met me and not allowed to go to graduation. When I protested, I was put in solitude. No such thing as justified anger. Anyway.... I could go on and on but here's my issue... my mom keeps triggering me... telling old stories, telling me how to raise my adult children, telling me to wear socks and bangs. Little stuff but it triggers me. We live 10 minutes from her so I have no excuse to not see her - I do that for about an hour every two weeks; I call once a week. I don't wish harm to a fly but I can't take much more of this... I bought a house in FL to escape but killed the deal when my brother told me that she'd come down to visit from Oct - Apr and I realized he was right... I am resentful almost all of the time. I want to live life by MY values... before I die please - thank you very much. She assumes I am adherent to her religion - I don't want to be the cause of her death - I am not being dramatic... it could seriously affect her if she knew who I really was... I need a break and I don't know how to get it!! Anyone, someone, any suggestions????

That said, I fervently believe that what BigPharma and the APA call mental illness is nothing but a sad way to cope with abuse, neglect, betrayal of trust.

That said, I think that everyone who has the misfortune to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder should first be treated for trauma – simply getting a diagnosis is traumatic.

Thank you Sara for sharing your story with us here...Susan

Jackie said...

I am just beginning my journey to healing, 6 months. I am just beginning to acknowledge the abuse that was felt and still affects my life. I am doing this through meds and psychotherapy. I am actually seeing the therapist I saw a few times as a child.
What I have noticed is I am very reluctant to share with anyone that I am going through this treatment. Why? Because of the stigma that follows. When I do mention why I have late appointments I make a joke like I have to go because I'm crazy. I am a teacher and how would it look for a label to be attached to me? Well...
It is fine that I see a therapist and take meds to help me through my visions and thoughts of the past. Due to my past I am BETTER equipped to help children through similar situations at home. I have more of an intuition when something just "isn't right". The children are unaware of my past but they are aware that I CARE, want to know their troubles and I am able to connect with them on a different level because I've been there.

Please keep posting great blogs. Everything touches and affects someone, somewhere.

Unknown said...

Jackie; thank you for sharing your story. Yes; the stigma lies in being marked with what we have been told is an "illness" that stimulates discrimination from the fear of the unknown by those who are terrified that they may one day be "ill" perhaps.

The real issue is that our life experiences have been abnormal - but our human responses to these experiences....are very normal.

I'm glad you are finding your way and thank you for your encouragement. :)