Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dealing with the shame

I talked to someone this morning who recently received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. And, in talking to her, I was once more reminded of how ugly the stigma attached to mental illness is.

This person is afraid to tell anyone she knows, afraid they will think differently about her. She feels she needs to keep what she deals with a secret.

I feel so bad for her! Believing you have something to be ashamed of is terrible. And - as many have said - dealing with such shame can often be worse than the illness itself.

I just hope and pray that she will at some time have the courage to come out and be honest about the disorder she deals with. I pray that she will use it as an opportunity to educate the people she knows. To rid the world of stigma we need to educate people - tell them the truth about mental illness. With one in five people having a mental illness of some kind, it's important that the world be educated about it so that - hopefully - people will be in a better position to give support.

If only more people would speak out! It's starting to happen and that's good. But we need to make mental illness a part of everyday conversation, including - and especially - in church. It's so important to be able to openly tell your church family, without the need to feel ashamed.


hein viljoen said...

The fear is sometimes more than the illness to bear itself in the beginning. i am certainly cautious to whom i would disclose my illness. only my family in that not all members understand it knows, and a very good friend know who walked with me thru my separation.
my first step was to come to terms with my illness and accept the part it played in my destruction of my marriage. only then i could move forward.
i think all bipolar sufferers has to accept their illness and embracement it to effectively manage the illness.

hein viljoen said...

having bipolar or any mental illness, the thought sometimes comes to mind do God take it into account with our relationship with him. do he not think that we use it as an excuse not to fully commit ourselves to Him, spend that time with Him as normal people does.i know there are times that i don't want to read my bible or there is this 'darkness' that enfold me where i just don't get to open my bible. at times when i pray the words just don't come.times where i just get into bed drinking my sleep pill and which the world comes to an end. Does God take that into account??

marja said...


Thank you for your comments.

It's true, people with bipolar disorder need to accept their illness and realize that it's not fault they have this disorder. It's a medical disorder.

And does God take into account when our relationship with Him is not as strong as it should be during times of illness? I'm sure He does and He forgives. Sometimes our supporters need to draw close to God on our behalf, praying for us when we ourselves find it hard to pray.

Sometimes I just need to ask someone to pray with me.