Stigma - Recovering from Mental Illness

Unfortunately, stigma is real, and it's dangerous. It is visible in public, and it comes full circle affecting patients and professionals alike. Stigma keeps mental illness in the dark and misunderstood, and often prevents sufferers from seeking the help they need.
My psychosis story is a huge part of my life. I have experienced hallucinations for as long as I can remember. As a teenager and young adult, finding explanations for what I was seeing and hearing became my quest.
My diagnosis validates my experience and makes my mental illness feel real. Schizoaffective disorder accurately describes my symptoms. I wanted a name and to know it can be treated.
I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in my early 20s, and since then I’ve received many different reactions when disclosing my mental illness. Many people are supportive. Others are curious. Sometimes I face mental health stigma. Writing for HealthyPlace means my diagnosis is out there for anyone to see. I’m fine with that because I want to help and I want to fight stigma. However, in my day-to-day life, I choose whom I want to tell and when I want to tell them. Here are a few of the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences with disclosing my mental illness diagnosis, not necessarily in that order.
How do we end mental illness stigma on college campuses? I want to figure it out because I was diagnosed with several mental illnesses when I was in college, and the entire debacle was handled poorly. First, I was told to seek help through my church and submit fully to the Lord. When that didn't work, I sought help through the university's counseling center, only to be referred several different times to different agencies in the community before ending up with one of the staff psychologists back at the university. When I became suicidal, I was suspended from class, kicked out of the dorm, and all my professors were notified--and I had to meet with the dean to be re-instated. Stigma was definitely a problem--and here's how to end mental illness stigma on college campuses.
Childhood mental disorders are not always the parents' fault. When I graduated from college, my mother dragged me to see a Christian psychiatrist who she was convinced could fix me. She asked the psychiatrist what caused my borderline personality disorder (BPD). The psychiatrist looked her in the eye and explained that BPD is caused by poor parenting. That is not always the case, and we as a society need to change our attitude that childhood mental disorders and illnesses are somehow the parents' fault.
Let's face it--Facebook attracts some toxic people and you need to know how to handle toxic people on Facebook. Whether they're posting belittling comments or mocking any honest, heartfelt post, they leave you feeling worse than before you read their comment. There are three major types of toxic people on Facebook, and the good news is there are ways to deal with people with issues. Here are the three toxic people on Facebook and how to handle them.
I have a mental illness--a disability--but should I check the "disability" box when applying for a job? I recently was laid off at one job and had my hours cut at another, for a total loss of around $500 in income per month. I've dusted off my resumes and started applying for jobs, but have been hindered by a question: "Should I check the disability box?" Several businesses claim to be equal opportunity employers and make an effort to hire people with disabilities (Should You Disclose Mental Illness in the Workplace?). But can we trust them not to discriminate? Should we check the box that says we have a mental illness disability?
Ever since his election many people, including some mental health professionals, have been speculating on President Donald Trump's mental health. This is unethical and dangerous. President Trump may or may not have a mental illness, but going public about it should be his decision. And his diagnosis, if any, should be between him and his doctor. Speculating on his mental health reinforces mental health stigma and keeps people from seeking help (Are You Afraid to Ask for Mental Health Help?). It's time to stop speculating on President Donald Trump's mental health.