Monday, August 28, 2006

Stigma: our worst enemy

I want to talk about the topic I'm probably most passionate about/angry about/disgusted with. Although I can speak quite rationally about this, it makes me "mad".

The greatest culprit that stands in the way of the welfare of people living with mental disorders is stigma. Think of how things would be if there were no stigma attached to our disorders:
  • we would not have to feel shame
  • we would be more willing to accept our illness
  • people would be less afraid of giving us support
  • our self-esteem would be better
  • we'd be more confident
  • we'd be more able to take a significant role in our community
  • if our disorders were more popular, there would be more $ allocated for research
  • we'd be much more likely to accept medical treatment
  • people would be more willing to study the causes of our disorders and learn how to help us
  • none of us would have to feel like outcasts
  • there would be less homeless people on the streets
  • we would feel better loved
  • we would not feel as much pain
The world stigmatizes us. But one of the worst things is that we who live with such disorders accept that stigma. We take it on ourselves. We feel the shame when we shouldn't.

If only we could think of our illness as "just another disease", one that happens to affect our brain. It does not mean we're stupid or that we have bad character. In fact, I believe that people with bipolar disorder are some of the most beautifully sensitive people around. Some of the greatest artists, musicians, and writers were bipolar, and look at what they left the world. Hans Christian Andersen, Frederic Chopin, Lord Byron, Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, are just a handful of numerous great people who are believed to have had some kind of mood disorder. Even the psalmist, David, had strong moods. Some people, me included, believe that he too could very well have been bipolar.

I could go on and on. But I feel a little better now, for having aired this. And if this post can make even a tiny bit of difference by making people realize how damaging and unfair stigma is, I'll be happy.


Dream Writer said...

What a great post! I wrote this whole article about "Stigma" and blogger had a fit with me and it was lost! But I will do it again later on today.

Thanks for the reassurance that having a mental illness is truly OK and that together we can make a difference.

jumpinginpuddles said...

i think thats for any disorder no matter what it is i agree with dream great post

moonlightwriter said...

Great post!! I think it's harder to accept mental illness opposed to a regular illness that affects only the body because the mental affects our thinking. I know for me I never know whether my emotions are what they should be for any given situation. I constantly live in fear that I am misunderstanding the world around me, that it's all passing me by while I'm in a brain fog and I'm either living too dangerously or not living at all. Hopefully when I am on the right meds this confusion will go away. But for now it's a part of me that affects everything in my life.