Stigma in relation to mental health is a big thing. Believe me, I have seen, felt and heard much of it during my 9 years mental health journey, even from very close people. Which is the hardest of all.
That aside, what is Stigma and where does it come from?
Stigma is a prejudiced and opinionated view of someone with a mental health issue/problem/diagnoses, labelling the person with the general views of that particular disorder, and/or mental health in general. Basically, it is discrimination of mental health issues.
´People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to mental ill health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover´ (Mental Health, 2020).
And why do people stigmatize? Because they are afraid, they don´t understand it, and/or people are generally prejudiced and opinionated. Which is painful for us mental health clients, on top of our issues alone.
So, for example, when someone has borderline disorder: the stigma is that ALL borderliners are hard to deal with, always get angry for no reason, and they are attention seekers by threatening with suicide. This is of course a more extreme stigma I´m depicting here, but it is very real for many suffering from stigma around borderline disorder, on top of the already hard life one has with their emotional ups and downs, which is not their fault at all of course.
Fight! Conquer! And Rise! Make it Worthwhile!
How we deal with those mental health issues, and the stigmatization, is however our responsibility. I myself, for instance, am also suffering from stigma, even from people close to me, professionals, groups of friends, and even from myself. Myself? How is that possible? Well, I have self-stigmatized myself that much, that I learned to ´behave´ like a ´normal´ person better than a ´normal´ person does. I didn´t want to be seen as ´the crazy one´ or the ´mental health patient´. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it kept me ´sane´, ´alive´ and ´accepted´ within groups because I can remain utterly calm, and behave like any other person would, despite my mental health issues (past tense). Even during psychotic episode I still ´behaved´ normally and remained as calm as the eye in a storm. I take control over my feelings and brain, that much that it even scares others. So much control, despite being utterly psychotic. But, it helps me to intervene when necessary to survive and it sure helps me train my mental state of mind during climbing and bouldering. How you need a calm and controlled mind with that sport is amazing (more about that see Conscious Climbing).
In addition, I think I will be able to do a great job in crisis management and the like, since I mastered myself and even other peoples reactions during such intense times as psychosis. So, I learned a lot from those episodes, I didn´t only suffer for nothing, so to say. And that is my mantra in life anyways: whatever comes your way, make it a learning and growing part of your life, and not a (self) destructive and defeating one. Fight! Conquer! And Rise! Make it worthwhile!
So next time one has an ´opinion´ about a mental health person, try to understand and get to know the person itself before judging based on ´general´ mental health diagnosis.
Mental Health. (2020). Stigma and Discrimination.
Relias Media. (2020). Featured Picture: Stigma.