The Stigma of Admitting I Am Affected By Mental Illness
I still fight the mental illness self-stigma that tells me not to let people know when I am affected by mental illness and feeling sick. When you have a mental illness, it is difficult to admit to other people that you are, indeed, affected by your illness. I feel weak at times and want to blame myself and my treatment team for my mental health relapse. And most of all, I fail to realize that this mental illness thing is going to affect me and there is nothing I can do about it.
The Stigma of Being Affected By Mental Illness
I want to write my Facebook status and say, “Hey everyone, a quick update to let you know that I actually got out of bed today and had a bath. It was the only thing that I managed to do besides order pizza.”
I had so many important appointments lined up the other day, but one by one they fell away as I messaged people telling them I had to leave town or that it was a long story why I could not attend. I did not feel comfortable telling them that I felt really depressed.
It has been a whirlwind with my bipolar medications as of late and the stress of work has had me down during this past month. I am finding it difficult to keep up.
However, I recall telling my friend, whom I barely know, that I wanted to run for Prime Minister some day and it was a tad embarrassing to have him catch me on one of my more ambitious days (Bipolar Symptoms: What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?). We can all have goals right? If not Prime Minister, then at least Minister of Health; besides, someone has to run the mental health portfolio right? The next day, I felt so tired and sleep became my best friend for a long while; and then the inability to focus, concentrate and complete the tasks that I need to complete haunted me. I cycled from wanting to be the Prime Minister to this feeling of failure caused by depression.
The Stigma of Feeling Self-Defeated by My Mental Illness
I forgot my psych medications one night and I am a mess. Do I want to admit to others that it is actually my fault for feeling so terrible that day? As I have a shower, it feels as if I am attempting to build a house. I put makeup on, but tears are running down my face, so I decide to leave off the mascara. I call my boyfriend and tell him I feel horrible and depressed and he asks sweetly, “Why hon?” After three years, this amazing man still does not get it and there is no real no rhyme or reason, just simply, it is bipolar.
I also feel really fat lately, which no doubt, makes me even more depressed, so I order two small pizzas and a root beer to boot and I will probably finish it off with a pack of Reeces Pieces. Yes, it is these negative decisions that I make, such as binge eating, that tear me down; but I wonder, if I did not have a mental illness, would I still have such self-defeating behavior? I really despise having to blame any of my behaviors on bipolar disorder and to admit that anything is out of my control. I feel that I always have agency, so why do I still make crappy decisions?
Yes, this blog is not the most eloquent, but then again, I do not feel well-expressed and my readership will most probably just get it anyway. Thank you for reading and most of all, thanks for understanding.
Paquette, A. (2015, February 3). The Stigma of Admitting I Am Affected By Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2015/02/the-stigma-of-admitting-that-i-am-affected-by-mental-illness
Author: Andrea Paquette
It’s now well over 2 1/2 years since this has been written. I felt I could have written it then and as well as today. Although, I can see some days, a difference in my over all mental health, it’s also affecting my physical health more so now than ever as I’m aging. I am 56, and having been labeled “disabled” since 2006, due to the overwhelming depression and little known anxiety I suffered with at that time, too. It’s a full blown member of my single family household. I had no idea back then nor did I feel like I had such an unwanted other diagnosis tagging along with depression telling me the falsehoods it does while depression was doing its job keeping me from taking care of just myself back then, (although I tried and seemed to have been faking it well for quite some time).
I can only speak for myself here, but having suffered with major depressive disorder, anxiety that’s gone way through the roof due to a diagnosis in late 2013 of Complex PTSD, after learning my marriage to a narcissist and having a mother who is also a narcissist, was a hell of an eye opening thing, and years and years of psychological abuse, as well as emotional, verbal, alienation, financial, etc.,
I do hope things have been more manageable and your coping skills have exceeded what we’d all like them to be. I wish you’ve been well in this time passed but if not, I understand and support you as I’m certain most all of us do today.
My coping and management skills have not become much better, and I’m many cases much worse since the C-ptsd diagnosis.
Like you did, I’ve learned I’ve found it necessary to lie or bend the truth, because no matter where my feelings of my mental health come into play, (quite often), and as my grown daughter and 3 granddaughters were turned against me 5+ years ago, I feel broken and yes, it’s been blamed on depression. They didn’t/don’t even know about the others.
To me that’s been the major cause of my mental health spiraling backwards all the time.
My ex is not even my daughters father, but had been her step father since she was 14. (Most of those years tumultuous), and most eventually blamed on me.
(A huge narcissistic trait). I have lost all of my family, all of my closest friends have given up talking and telling anyone how I “feel”, and nobody wants to hear how I have this huge empty hole inside where my loved ones should never have been snatched from my heart. I don’t blame my daughter. Afterall I was married to the lying, deceiving, cheating, jerk for 18 years before our nightmare of a divorce took place in a very uncivil “civil court” I was more than discriminated against as a woman with mental illness who the female judge told me she didn’t care what I “thought” I had, and that “I walked in alone unassisted, and I would represent myself”. That was the beginning of the end. After over 12 months with an Atty on my side, my now ex went through 2 and was on his third, along with requesting a new judge. One who did not allow me to use any of the previous information my Atty had already gotten approved and included into my previous file with the previous judge. Including my proof of disability. (My only source of income then).
Not a single document used on my behalf, all denied even though approved and given exhibit numbers. That’s over and I lost miserably. Humiliating and personal attacks on my character I couldn’t even imagine then. I do now. I’ve had to live it. Alone. Totally alone. It’s maddening most days and I’ve stopped leaving the place I had to move to upon losing my home of 24 years. I rarely leave only to get meds or occasional groceries since delivery is expensive. I don’t have TV or internet as I’m afraid to let anyone enter due to ptsd issues. 5+ years no television. No lap top. No nothing but my phone.
Excuse me if I’ve made errors. I’m trying to finish in hopes someone, possibly you, or another kind soul would see this and respond. My dog is my only friend. She’s a beautiful Golden Retriever I’m afraid I’ll outlive. She’s 8. I can’t imagine being in this world without her and have had many suicidal thoughts. I do not have a plan.
Without her there’s simply no reason to go on. I’ve tried making friends. I ache to be loved by my daughter and granddaughters. I’m always told how beautiful I am, yet will not allow myself to get close to someone who may be able to love me through all this pain. I do love myself but it’s not enough. I have so much to give and it’s been wasted. The longer this goes on the harder it is. I’ll be 57 next month. Each and every year of my 50’s have been spent alone with just my beautiful dog. Even she deserves better.
I pray and hope you’re doing well as all the others who took the time to write here in 2015. I hope you’re all thriving. That would bring me hope. Best of health and wishes to all of you here.
I hear you Andrea! Thank you for writing.. I too am treated for metnal health issues (depression and anxiety) I am relating to your ups and downs.. feeling you could run for prime mionister and then the next day feeling so overwhelmed you had to sleep.. not everyone understands this.. especially and sadly my own counselor colleagues.. ironic isnt it? we work in a school to help children acieve their best and overcome their own hurdles yet our own staff in the support staff department cannot support their own colleague when I needed their support during an unusually stressful time of my life that affected my symptoms.. In fact.. their refusal to help really caused more stress than the symptoms of the illness and actually excaserbated them.. i know how you feel when your boyfriend had the insensitivity to ask you "Why you felt the way you did" I got that alot.. werent they listening???? Caring peopel in my family often make that mistake.. its like saying to someone who had their leg amputated and are trying to function daily.. with the extra frustrations that a disability brings.. and then have someone ask them... Why are you depressed? duhh!!!!! we need to speak out more so that the genral population understands more and is more sensitive to these mental illness diseases1
Today I saw my doctor and told him that everything was way too much. Dealing with a fulltime job, being a carer (my partner has a debilitating chronic illness) and a ton of different other things in my life at the moment makes me feel like I'm swimming through molasses. Everything is just far too hard and I don't even know where to start on fixing it. I can't think straight, I can't remember the silliest things, the house is a mess, I am a mess,
He listened. He REALLY listened. He then gave me meds, a referral to a counsellor, blood tests referral, and a medical certificate and orders to take the next 2 weeks off work. 2 weeks?! Really? He said I needed to sleep (proper sleep), try to get some space and stop the cycle. I'm going to take the time.
Thank you for being so honest. It took me a long while to see the doctor. I'm so glad I did, and posts like this make it easier for people like me to do it.
I don't know what else to say other than, "Thank you, Andrea, for putting into words how I feel sometimes."
We need to get as many folks as possible actively engaged in having a #PositivePublicDialog on talking about mental illness out in the bright sunlight of day, just where it belongs. One way to do that is for groups to host some kind of event/gathering/rally on National Mental Health Dignity Day - May 3rd. This will be the second year of this new day of celebration.
"Nothing Will Change Until We Stand-Up For Ourselves" #TakingOurDignityBack
We all know that the more we show & tell the real faces & lives of people who live their lives with pride, dignity & respect for all life while dealing with the daily struggles of living with a form (s) of mental illness.
It is time for a #ChangeOf View.
With my kind regards,
So good!! amazing to hear real talk about living with mental health struggles from someone who seems to also be on the frontlines of changing the stigma and overall dialogue surrounding the issue. So many heartfelt hugs to you Andrea! <3
Thanks for writing that Andrea. Reading it is kind of strange, because everything here is so familiar: Making up reasons not to see or speak to people, blaming oneself for messing up medications (some of which have the side effect of absent-mindedness, duh!) and struggling to have the energy to complete simple tasks.
I get so tired of letting my loved ones down. They are amazing to me simply because they still make the effort despite my track record. And yet, when they ask me how I am doing, I find myself forever lying, or at least diminishing the problem, because I'm sick of the stigma.
Wow!! I have been fighting my doctor for mnts. I know when my meds are NOT working, better than anyone. Right? Apparently not, bbow ive spiralled deeper than ever. Life sucks and not getting help is even scarier. ..