The Black Sheep Syndrome and Mental Health Stigma
As if dealing with a diagnosis of mental illness is not hard enough, many of us are confronted with a feeling that we do not belong in our family, within our peer group -- we feel different. I'm pretty sure there is no definition for 'the black sheep syndrome' but, just in case, let me refer to my trusted thesaurus.
Alas, apparently there is! And I am not surprised that it falls in the category of EXCLUSION. It is directly connected to the following words:
-Not one of us
Well, I suppose this was the worth purchase and space it takes up on my desk. At this point, I'm not sure if I want to burn it or contact the editor and tell her how accurate her damn thesaurus is. The definition of being, "not one of us" really hits home with me. And I would bet you my trusted thesaurus that you have, at some point, felt this way. If you have not, please, do not hesitate to provide me, and our readers, with some tips.
Feeling like the Black Sheep In Mental Illness Recovery
Alright, now we have a definition. But words cannot describe how it actually feels to be diagnosed with a mental illness and suddenly feel different than others. Even if we are told we are normal (what a ridiculous word) taking medication can be a constant reminder that we feel, definitely, unfairly stigmatized and segregated from others.
People, all of us, want to feel like we fit in with the rest of society. It is the human condition---amongst the importance of eating and drinking water, etc etc. The juxtaposition: we all want to be different than each other, special, and eccentric in our own way. Diagnosed with a mental illness, you probably feel like you have just landed on a different planet: The Planet of the Mentally Ill. Sometimes, regardless of positive reassurance from those who care about us, we cannot shake the feeling of being abnormal. Feeling like the black sheep.
The Definition of Normal Defies Reality
Yes, we have a mental illness but everyone has things they keep from other people. This is healthy. This, this is normal. Based on the absolute truth that there is not a definition of normal (and I will refrain from referencing my thesaurus--promise) having a mental illness, battling addiction, eating disorders and anxiety, alongside a slew of other lovely diagnosis, makes us normal. Human. Pain is a shared experience.
An example: the end of a relationship, the pain that that brings, is something shared among people, and so too is the feeling we might not fit in. But think about it: do you really want to aspire to be what the masses view as the societal ideal? An ideal that does not exist. Having a mental illness makes you unique, and the people you talk to on a daily basis, carry baggage that makes them unique. We all struggle. That's life....
Last thoughts: having a mental illness can make you feel like you are the black sheep, and rightfully so, but work to understand that 'normal' is just a variation of individual behavior. You are as normal as the person sitting closest to you. Normal, well, throw the word away.
We are all unique.
Champagne, N. (2011, December 8). The Black Sheep Syndrome and Mental Health Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2011/12/the-black-sheep-syndrome
Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne
I think that we can make our own interpretations of people's behavior- personally, I believe that family members can reflect their attitudes towards themselves by the way they treat us. I am currently in a similar position, but I actually see that being the one who has been diagnosed with something as being strong- we're honest and open with saying that we're not 'perfect' and don't subscribe to the bs of some mythical definition of 'perfection'..
I believe that family members can reflect their own insecurities onto us, and demonstrate that they may actually be holding onto immature ways of making themselves feel better by finger pointing and trying to bring us down in the attempt to boost their self esteem. :- ♡
The thing that I've been noticing about denial blame shame & finger pointing is that the person who chooses to do this and treat others this way is effectively placing themselves in a helpless position- like being on a self-esteem treadmill going nowhere.. because the people who use these tactics are putting their self esteem in the hands of others, without actually actively *doing* anything about it ♡
It's our choice whether we want to let them bring us down at our own expense, or not. ;-)
This is the way I am now seeing it.
this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous
blogger if you aren't already ;) Cheers!
Also most of the major contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary were also sufferers of mental illness, the most prominent one being the first person to be convicted of insanity in England. Wonderful stories to read these peoples biographies. And if you research Albert Einstein, you will find his mental deficits as well as his two childrens (one child having been adopted out). So after all these famous people, I took new courage in facing my own dilemmas.
I agree. The feelings do come before the diagnosis. Often, we stumble through life with a feeling that we are different. Thank you for pointing this out. I sincerely appreciate your feedback.
I do appreciate this comment and agree with you in that 500 words cannot begin to describe these feelings. Many books have been written on the subject, long and important ones. I had hoped I could briefly touch on the topic. Thank you so much for providing a different opinion.
Hope on Hope
Thank you for this comment. We live in a society that both makes feel we need to 'fit in' and at the same time be different. It can feel impossible to figure it all out--that's why I encourage people to just work to accept themselves!