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ArleneA


Member

Posted Fri Mar 30th, 2012 12:58am Post subject: The Stigma Attached to Having a Mental Health Illness:(

I was reflecting earlier on my life, and whilst I feel content most of the time; there is a major aspect of my life that I will never be completely at ease with.

I am referring to not only having the illness Manic Depression (I cannot abide the "B" word and have no idea why), but also the unbelievable stigma that goes along with having this illness which my consultant once told me in a very serious tone, "Arlene, this is something that is never going to go away...." I must have been in denial again.

The stigma seems far worse to me at times. Some people, for whatever reason, cannot and will not look beyond the illness, and see you for the person you are, and the good person you are trying so hard to be. The whispers, the nudges and the 'looks' behind your back, and sometimes not behind your back, can be very difficult to absorb at times. I guess you are an easy target for these people, who view your illness as a weakness.

I actually do not see it as a weakness at all. My admissions to hospital have strengthened me beyond belief; after all these are scary places to 'live in' temporarily. You are placed amongst all different walks of life, some very undesirable, if I am being perfectly honest. I have met some wonderful people via these admissions too though, and made some good friends, whom I very possibly would not have met through normal circumstances.

I worry about the stigma attached to mental health issues though; I can't foresee a time when I will be free from this. I fret about the future, and if this is going to be a constant barrier to me getting on in life and rebuilding my career. I feel I have to prove myself ten times more now; and whilst I do this every day, well it does get exhausting at times and sometimes you feel like giving up and admitting defeat. Only sometimes though, and for the most part, I find this inner strength to go on and continue to prove that, yes I have this illness, but yes I also infact have some intelligence and deserve a place in society, alongside everyone else.

I just wondered if anyone else feels the way I do? Perhaps I am taking things too personally 'out there' (big bad world). Perhaps I am super defensive about being struck down with this illness that "will never go away"; and yes perhaps I am bitter too. Oh yes I am bitter. I must stop feeling like this. I must somehow turn it around. I would one day love to perhaps be a counsellor and help people with this illness, who are perhaps in the 'early stages'. I have been high, low, suicidal, and plain numb at times. I am in a better place now. Time is a great healer, I couldn't see it during my darkest hours, but I can see it now:)

I forget to stop rambling on at times, so forgive me for that. I have said before though, and I do mean it, writing is like therapy for me, so I must continue!!

"This is me - don't try and change it..."

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stonefish78


Member

Posted Thu Jun 7th, 2012 9:57pm Post subject: The Stigma Attached to Having a Mental Health Illness:(

I think you make some good points about the stigma attached to manic depression/bp. I've just watched The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive and it was so interesting, especially to see just how many people suffer with this terrible disorder.
I sometimes feel like I will never have a 'normal'life again and considered going into the field of mental health because the people might have greater understanding and insight into the condition, but I still think stigma might affect a career in that area too.
I've recently read Dr Liz Millar's Mood Mapping book and feel more positive about dealing with depression having done so - it's on Amazon for about £8. It's the most helpful thing I have read apart from K Redfield Jamieson's books about her experiences. She also advocates taking Omega 3 or Cod liver oil as a supplement, which I have been doing and have to admit I feel a great deal better now.
Writing is like therapy so why not do a blog or just keep a mood diary it all helps manage things.


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samuelh73


Member

Posted Fri Aug 24th, 2012 7:56pm Post subject: The Stigma Attached to Having a Mental Health Illness:(

Arlene: I did not see you country of origin, so I cannot say conclusively if mental illness is a stigma or not. Here in the US mental illness is somewhat stigmatized, but only in certain areas/regions. In California it is almost trendy to have a mental issue, but here in Texas the words "mental illness/issue" can invoke thoughts of psychopathic patients wandering around within certain people. As a sufferer of bipolar disorder (type II) it was somewhat random who would respond positively or negatively to me. The best course of action (in my experience, of course) was to be an example to those people who think the worst of individuals who suffer from psychological issues. Most of the people I have met were sympathetic and kind to me, and the rest I attempted to teach them the realities of mental illness. I have yet to receive any sort of negative response from anyone regarding my mental illness, which is a very good thing, considering humanity's behavior towards those who are different from the majority.

In regards to your manic-depressive status and your dislike of the "B" word: They changed the terminology of the condition because people who suffer from manic-depressive disorder aren't necessarily depressed or manic. Bipolar disorder is broken down into several types: Type I, II, cyclothymia, and NOS (not otherwise specified). Type I is characterised by more manic episodes, whereas type II (what I suffer from) is dominated moreso by depression. When I was first diagnosed it was termed "manic-depressive disorder", and it took me a while to figure out the changes in the terminology. Is there any particular reason why you do not like the new term? I am interested in hearing your opinion on the matter.


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ArleneA


Member

Posted Sat Aug 25th, 2012 5:52pm Post subject: The Stigma Attached to Having a Mental Health Illness:(

Hello "Samuelh73" (I wasn't sure if Samuel was your name or not).

That is very good that you try and be an example to those people who think the worst.

For me though, sometimes you think "why should I?". Honestly, you do get to that stage. I suppose the "B" word could also stand for "Bitter" as I really am. I suppose it sounds self-pitying but I look back on my life and wonder how this illness has developed. Apparently (according to my previous consultant) it has lain dormant in my system for a long, long time; and all it needs is that one trigger to set it off and then, well that is it, no turning back.

As for not liking the new term for Manic Depression, I'm sorry but I have no explanation, I just detest the word. No idea why. It just sounds so clinically awful; then to add "disorder" on the end, well I guess it makes you the complete opposite of "normal" (whatever that is).

Oh and my country of origin is the United Kingdom, Scotland to be precise where many people compare the psychiatric hospitals to those witnessed in "One flew over the Cuckoos Nest" - not sure if you have seen that film or not.

Not all judge you in that way though; just the ignorant ones. I think one of the worst terms I have seen written about these hospitals was "Loopy Ward". To me that is pure and utter ignorance at its worst/best. That was particularly upsetting for me the day I read that. Hope the person in question obtained some degree of satisfaction. I also hope he/she never has the misfortune of having to ever attend one of these ***** Wards. God forbid. Would they still refer to them as that. I wonder, but not for too long.

Thanks for your comments btw:)

"This is me - don't try and change it..."

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