Friday, October 8, 2010
Stop Living the Stigma
There's a problem in the Mental Illness World that I feel needs to be addressed. We are fighting so hard to fight the stigma associated with mental illness. There are groups and organizations all over the world that are working to fight misconceptions of mental illness and what it means for those living with it. But I keep finding a recurring ailment among my friends living with mental illness that hurts me to the core: we are living the stigma we are fighting so hard to eliminate!
So what does that mean? Well, it means we are hard on ourselves, painfully brutal with ourselves for not living up to society's expectations - me included. Not working, not being "able" to work, not bringing in a substantial income, not cleaning the house, doing laundry, doing dishes, socializing, getting out of the house, or just a simple lack of energy because of our mental illness that causes us immense pain! It hurts me so much to hear my friends suffering with this. I, too, struggle with these thoughts and self-criticisms on a daily basis.
I think we need to band together. I think we need to help one another to stop living the stigma we are fighting so hard to eliminate in other people. How are we going to be an example of what NOT to do when we do it to ourselves every minute of the day?
I know, this will not be an easy task by any means. We stigmatize ourselves greater than most of our biggest critics. But it is so unhealthy for us. The negativity that we allow to permeate our beings is hurtful, it's harmful, and it needs to stop.
I have no idea how to do it other than to try to re-train our brains. We need to embrace what we're telling other people to accept about us and accept it within ourselves. We need to be kind to ourselves, love ourselves, and support ourselves, because we are our own best advocates.
I was recently accused of wanting unrealistic support based on what someone close to me was taught at a NAMI meeting. It was perhaps one of the most hurtful things this person could have ever accused me of, because I work so hard on learning what I need, what I don't need, and finding a balance between the two. And it changes. It changes with my mood changes. And I am ONE individual. Every person dealing with mental illness is different. But ultimately, I believe we each know what our needs are, and we need to fight for them.
So let's start a movement to stop living the stigma. Are you with me?
To be continued...