Stigma & Mental Illness

Posted by Roxie43 @roxie43, Dec 5, 2011

Albeit shameful and ignorant that it is almost 2012, and many of us are still confronted with biases. judgements and disparate treatment, I encourage all to hold your head up high. I know what it’s like to be looked at differently because of a label, diagnosis or even someones inability to look deeper than the surface.
I often ask myself why some folks behave the way they behave and perhaps I will never find an honest answer. I hypothesize that perhaps there is something in me that may remind someone of themselves or that perhaps that, until recently, I had always functioned so well that those with certain belief systems or stereo-types feel that they are experts on who I am.
I recently posted on ECT and the benefits for me as an individual. Talk therapy is also important because it allows us to process, in a safe and healthy forum, the things that people have said or done to us. I recall when I first requested FMLA at work and a person made the comment “If you cannot report to work maybe you should not work”. I was requesting intermittent leave because the stigma and disparate treatment was taking it’s toll and this so called healthy individual was so insensitive.
I know we have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. Stigma is one reason some don’t admit that something ails them nor seek help. We all have to use our voices, our stories, our expertise (on who were are) and continue to raise awareness about the importance of treating others the way in which one would like to be treated, not selective respect and equality but across the board.
Being good to one another should not be based on pre-conceived notions that certain populations are more worthy than others. We are valuable individuals with strengths, creativity, feelings and we contribute to society wholeheartedly and should always be viewed and treated as such!
Have you been treated differently lately? How did you deal with it?

Looks as if this issue is not a problem for readers?? That’s great…any ideas as to how to improve acceptance and minimize judgement on the East Coast……
Happy Holidays to All,

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I don’t know that this issue will ever improve. I have found that most people are very judgmental and the stigma involved with mental health issues, especially depression, etc. seems to be something that must be accepted. As much as we would all like to see everyone treated respectfully, people simply aren’t going to do that across the board. I have found it is best to keep my own personal problems to myself, in general, I don’t share the fact that I take antidepressant medication or go to see a psychologist for talk therapy. The only people that know this about me are very close to me and only a very few friends that I have know for a long time and that are true friends. Most acquaintances and coworkers, etc. will only pass judgment and use the information against you, if for any reason you are to reveal your personal mental health issues with them. It is best to face reality and realize that this is a very competitive society we live in right now, especially due to the economic conditions and so many out of work. I would not reveal anything of the sort to anyone that had anything to do with my job or a potential job or anything else related to my livelihood. I hope you understand what I’m trying to tell you, it is not out of shame or disrespect that I write this. It is simply out of guarding one’s own mental health and not putting yourself in a position to be treated disrespectfully or judged. Sometimes the less others kinow the better, let them judge you based on your current lifestyle and work ethic. Why give others a list of your weaknesses when it is not necessary. There is no shame in that. On the other hand, if you are trying to help others and you work in a mental health capacity, then by all means share your success stories with your patients. Otherwise, exposing your weaknesses can cost you if people get cut-throat and decide to compete with your over a promotion or some other stepping stone. Life is short, I say live and let live, but keep healthy boundaries with others. Be selective and know that you should only share your negative or weak areas with those that you trust. I’m not paranoid, I’ve just learned the hard way. I once shared very personal information with someone close to me that I really trusted and they used it against me later, winning a court case. That was not fair, but it happened, nonetheless.

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@nativefloridian

I don’t know that this issue will ever improve. I have found that most people are very judgmental and the stigma involved with mental health issues, especially depression, etc. seems to be something that must be accepted. As much as we would all like to see everyone treated respectfully, people simply aren’t going to do that across the board. I have found it is best to keep my own personal problems to myself, in general, I don’t share the fact that I take antidepressant medication or go to see a psychologist for talk therapy. The only people that know this about me are very close to me and only a very few friends that I have know for a long time and that are true friends. Most acquaintances and coworkers, etc. will only pass judgment and use the information against you, if for any reason you are to reveal your personal mental health issues with them. It is best to face reality and realize that this is a very competitive society we live in right now, especially due to the economic conditions and so many out of work. I would not reveal anything of the sort to anyone that had anything to do with my job or a potential job or anything else related to my livelihood. I hope you understand what I’m trying to tell you, it is not out of shame or disrespect that I write this. It is simply out of guarding one’s own mental health and not putting yourself in a position to be treated disrespectfully or judged. Sometimes the less others kinow the better, let them judge you based on your current lifestyle and work ethic. Why give others a list of your weaknesses when it is not necessary. There is no shame in that. On the other hand, if you are trying to help others and you work in a mental health capacity, then by all means share your success stories with your patients. Otherwise, exposing your weaknesses can cost you if people get cut-throat and decide to compete with your over a promotion or some other stepping stone. Life is short, I say live and let live, but keep healthy boundaries with others. Be selective and know that you should only share your negative or weak areas with those that you trust. I’m not paranoid, I’ve just learned the hard way. I once shared very personal information with someone close to me that I really trusted and they used it against me later, winning a court case. That was not fair, but it happened, nonetheless.

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Thank you for your post. I agree with you wholeheartedly about not sharing a mental illness at work. I do work in psychiatry and have done so for a very long time and went to graduate school for a degree in social work, My present employer of 12 years, has an extensive history of hiring peers and some in very top positions also have their illnesses. The issue in my situation is that the treatment of certain individuals with mental illness varies from enabling to do very little, the bare minimum to treating others in a very denigrating way so equality around empathy, compassion and stigma/biases is very selective and those that see the negative and hurtful behaviors are often left feeling worthless.
As for me, I am proud of who I am even if someone else may not be. I have a lot of professional experience, I am educated, my peers respect me, the consumers we treat appreciate that I am humble in my success story and I work hard and will go above and beyond for my assigned individuals. However, I am a woman who is chronically depressed, who recently had to surrender to ECT and I became increasingly worse because I felt that I was being emotionally abuse by a workplace bully. What was so hurtful was that when administration is aware that one has a history of an illness and allows for hurtful, unprofessional, corrupt, and intimidating bevavior from a supervisor to an employee and when the employee asks for help and this is not just my case everything concern reported is quickly attributed to a mental illness.
Today, I am 100% in agreement with you about being more selective in sharing my story. Self disclosure should only be considered if it will help another as a way to foster hope and/or unless when is becoming severely incapacitated because at this point a medical leave will be most helpful.
I would just like people to understand that being ignored re; valid concerns and/or being treated indifferent because of a label is discrimination un ADA laws and the employer is the one that can find themselves with a lawsuit.
I have not met one human being whom is perfect. A perfect person does not exist. We all have issues, differences, challenges and I would like to think that we live in a world where people care about how their behaviors can impact another life. Personally, I could never intentionally hurt another person because people have feelings. There is no special treatment being requested…..I just would like to see all people, despite once vocation, treating others in the same manner in which we want to be treated. And is someone is intentionally hurting us that we know that we do not have to tolerate indifference, especially in the workplace.
Thanks again for the wonderful advice and post.
Have a healthy, loving and joyous holiday season.
Sincerely, Gallart

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@roxie43

Looks as if this issue is not a problem for readers?? That’s great…any ideas as to how to improve acceptance and minimize judgement on the East Coast……
Happy Holidays to All,

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I know this is late, but I do struggle every day with the stigma from depression, treatment, and ECT. I have been in treatment for over a year and have debilitating headaches every day, memory problems, and other issues that keep me from finishing the nursing school I was attending as well as driving school bus. Onlu now are we even considering moving the treatments to three weeks apart. I stay home and don’t even attend church anymore due to the stigma.

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@roxie43

Looks as if this issue is not a problem for readers?? That’s great…any ideas as to how to improve acceptance and minimize judgement on the East Coast……
Happy Holidays to All,

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Hi Lisa,
I’m so sorry about all you are dealing with
Being ill is challenging enough without being exposed to ignorance and stigma. The best advice I can give you is not to allow others to define who you are
Often, those that belittle and discriminate, have deeper issues than we do. Its very easy to focus on another because it is far less distancing than dealing with one’s own life.
I know ECT affects everyone differently so please ensure that your provider is aware of your symptoms. Also make sure both sides (bilateral) is not being done. Unilateral ECT has less side effects including less memory loss. This is only done on the right side of the brain and from a personal perspective helped. However, there are still minor issues like headaches but they have improved from daily to once in a while.
Please don’t isolate. Try to be active and hold your head up high at all times.
Kindly,
Rox

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@roxie43

Looks as if this issue is not a problem for readers?? That’s great…any ideas as to how to improve acceptance and minimize judgement on the East Coast……
Happy Holidays to All,

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Thank you so much for the insight. It is helpful to speak to someone who understands due to personal experience. I do receive bilateral, due to lack of response from the other. My husband and four kids are so loving and supportive, but sometimes I get so frustrated. I used to take my kids camping and plant a huge garden. I even built a deck and patio, but now I sit here, unable to even stand for more than a few minutes without a head rush and dizziness and headache. I want my life back! Sorry to whine so much. I feel so ashamed to put my family through this. It’s so hard to keep going with my head up.

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@roxie43

Looks as if this issue is not a problem for readers?? That’s great…any ideas as to how to improve acceptance and minimize judgement on the East Coast……
Happy Holidays to All,

Jump to this post

Please don’t be ashamed. We did not do anything to cause our illnesses but we can fight tooth and nail to recover. I believe in recovery and unfortunately some recover quicker than others. Talk to your family and tell them how you feel. I bet they love you very much and just want you back. Sometimes, in addition to educating ourselves we have to educate our loved ones because often they are misinformed and think we can just snap out of what ails us.
You have to have faith in yourself that you will be building decks and camping again. In the meanwhile, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are human, not some robot and have probably spent your life doing for others. Its ok for our loved ones to uplift and support us as well.
I am proud of you for sharing your story because it shows me and you as well as others that we are not alone. Your friend here is routing for you …

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I have recently been denied a certain privilege at my church because my illness is not understood by others. I have PTSD and treatment resistant depression, a wonderful service dog who does give some help, but I still don’t always have the ability to participate in activities with others. I also have numerous physical problems, among them Fibromyalgia which others just plain don’t understand. I have a great Psychiatrist and therapist who help me deal with the stigma of having a mental illness, but that doesn’t make life that much easier. I also find that doctors will often give me less credibilitiy than I deserve because of the diagnosis of PTSD, etc., and when they read my whole history there have been some who refused to treat me. I speak up whenever I can about the fact that mental illness is no different than other diseases, that there are physical realities which go with it, and have at least been able to help educate a few who were going into counselling when asked to lecture at a local college. MY abuse was in a cult, and if that comes up then the treatment I receive becomes even worse, for people do not believe that cults exist (I was raised in one for the first 20 years of my life). I think that the best thing for those of us with mental illness to do is to keep on getting out when we can and showing to the world that we are not freaks, we have an illness which unfortunately can be classified as an “invisible disability”.

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@marylynette

I have recently been denied a certain privilege at my church because my illness is not understood by others. I have PTSD and treatment resistant depression, a wonderful service dog who does give some help, but I still don’t always have the ability to participate in activities with others. I also have numerous physical problems, among them Fibromyalgia which others just plain don’t understand. I have a great Psychiatrist and therapist who help me deal with the stigma of having a mental illness, but that doesn’t make life that much easier. I also find that doctors will often give me less credibilitiy than I deserve because of the diagnosis of PTSD, etc., and when they read my whole history there have been some who refused to treat me. I speak up whenever I can about the fact that mental illness is no different than other diseases, that there are physical realities which go with it, and have at least been able to help educate a few who were going into counselling when asked to lecture at a local college. MY abuse was in a cult, and if that comes up then the treatment I receive becomes even worse, for people do not believe that cults exist (I was raised in one for the first 20 years of my life). I think that the best thing for those of us with mental illness to do is to keep on getting out when we can and showing to the world that we are not freaks, we have an illness which unfortunately can be classified as an “invisible disability”.

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I am so sorry about the abuse you endured
It takes so much work to recover from abuse and society can ad to this trauma with stigma and indifference
Please take good care of yourself and never give up faith that we too deserve internal peace and happiness
Thank you for having the courage to share ….

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@marylynette

I have recently been denied a certain privilege at my church because my illness is not understood by others. I have PTSD and treatment resistant depression, a wonderful service dog who does give some help, but I still don’t always have the ability to participate in activities with others. I also have numerous physical problems, among them Fibromyalgia which others just plain don’t understand. I have a great Psychiatrist and therapist who help me deal with the stigma of having a mental illness, but that doesn’t make life that much easier. I also find that doctors will often give me less credibilitiy than I deserve because of the diagnosis of PTSD, etc., and when they read my whole history there have been some who refused to treat me. I speak up whenever I can about the fact that mental illness is no different than other diseases, that there are physical realities which go with it, and have at least been able to help educate a few who were going into counselling when asked to lecture at a local college. MY abuse was in a cult, and if that comes up then the treatment I receive becomes even worse, for people do not believe that cults exist (I was raised in one for the first 20 years of my life). I think that the best thing for those of us with mental illness to do is to keep on getting out when we can and showing to the world that we are not freaks, we have an illness which unfortunately can be classified as an “invisible disability”.

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No we are not freaks and any illness should never define who a human being is! This is why it’s so important that we all know our rights and speak up if they are being violated in any way. 2012, but we are still exposed to indifference, biases and stigma. To speaking up and demanding respect! !!!!!

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@marylynette

I have recently been denied a certain privilege at my church because my illness is not understood by others. I have PTSD and treatment resistant depression, a wonderful service dog who does give some help, but I still don’t always have the ability to participate in activities with others. I also have numerous physical problems, among them Fibromyalgia which others just plain don’t understand. I have a great Psychiatrist and therapist who help me deal with the stigma of having a mental illness, but that doesn’t make life that much easier. I also find that doctors will often give me less credibilitiy than I deserve because of the diagnosis of PTSD, etc., and when they read my whole history there have been some who refused to treat me. I speak up whenever I can about the fact that mental illness is no different than other diseases, that there are physical realities which go with it, and have at least been able to help educate a few who were going into counselling when asked to lecture at a local college. MY abuse was in a cult, and if that comes up then the treatment I receive becomes even worse, for people do not believe that cults exist (I was raised in one for the first 20 years of my life). I think that the best thing for those of us with mental illness to do is to keep on getting out when we can and showing to the world that we are not freaks, we have an illness which unfortunately can be classified as an “invisible disability”.

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I am so sorry to hear of the issues that you are dealing with. It is such a pity that unfortunately that some people are so ignorant to people .’s needs. Rely on your faith. God bless take care Piglit

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@marylynette

I have recently been denied a certain privilege at my church because my illness is not understood by others. I have PTSD and treatment resistant depression, a wonderful service dog who does give some help, but I still don’t always have the ability to participate in activities with others. I also have numerous physical problems, among them Fibromyalgia which others just plain don’t understand. I have a great Psychiatrist and therapist who help me deal with the stigma of having a mental illness, but that doesn’t make life that much easier. I also find that doctors will often give me less credibilitiy than I deserve because of the diagnosis of PTSD, etc., and when they read my whole history there have been some who refused to treat me. I speak up whenever I can about the fact that mental illness is no different than other diseases, that there are physical realities which go with it, and have at least been able to help educate a few who were going into counselling when asked to lecture at a local college. MY abuse was in a cult, and if that comes up then the treatment I receive becomes even worse, for people do not believe that cults exist (I was raised in one for the first 20 years of my life). I think that the best thing for those of us with mental illness to do is to keep on getting out when we can and showing to the world that we are not freaks, we have an illness which unfortunately can be classified as an “invisible disability”.

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Today is a day to reach out to a friend in need. Just when we think our own life is chaotic one learns that another is suffering even more. Thank you for your encouragement and reminding me of my faith.
Have a blessed day!!!

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