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Overcoming Isolation, Loneliness from Mental Health Stigma

January 15, 2017 Leif Gregersen

Mental health stigma can cause isolation and loneliness in those with mental illness (Mental Illness, Isolation, and Loneliness). No one with a mental health problem should isolate themselves due to mental health stigma because loneliness can lead to more severe problems, even suicide. The loneliness of isolation certainly causes personal grief and sadness for those dealing with mental health stigma.

Isolation and Loneliness Due to Mental Health Stigma Take Time to Defeat

If someone is experiencing loneliness as a result of isolation, it can be a long and difficult road to come back and defeat the effects of the mental health stigma that caused it. Small steps are often the best ones to take after any health or medication issues are worked out.

It is important to first look at what things you like to do, what things will get you out of bed early and keep you up late such as walking or swimming, yoga or reading. All of these activities and more can be built up into isolation fighters. For example, if you like walking you can start by taking a short walk each day and then join a mall walkers club. If you like to read you can join a book group. Many of these people will meet, socialize and then meet for coffee after the activity. You don't need to do all this at once, but building a community of people you can interact with can be extremely important. You can even start by building a community of support and resources online.

The sad truth is that, due to stigma, it may be hard to make meaningful friendships with the people in these groups. Often it helps if you can plug into resources like a social club through a psychiatric clinic or community program. Mental health stigma is much less among those who suffer a similar illness that you do.

Isolation and loneliness caused by mental health stigma can lead to worse mental health and even suicide. Avoid isolation and loneliness. Here's how.

Keeping in mind that you may want to take baby steps, your early steps could be just getting counseling or group therapy that will help arm you to live a more fulfilling life (6 Tips on How to Find a Great Mental Health Counselor). Isolation and loneliness are serious situations, and it never hurts to ask for help.

Many people in these situations where mental health stigma has caused them to isolate themselves can't afford a therapist, but there are many therapists will work on a scale according to your income, or on a volunteer basis (Free Mental Health Services and How to Find Them). Some good resources to consult for these services could be charities such as Catholic Social Services (in Canada) or your local mental health clinic. The important thing is not to let stigma and isolation compromise either your physical or mental health. Isolation and loneliness associated with mental health stigma can be overcome.

Find Leif on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and on his blog.

APA Reference
Gregersen, L. (2017, January 15). Overcoming Isolation, Loneliness from Mental Health Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2017/01/overcoming-isolation-and-loneliness-caused-by-stigma



Author: Leif Gregersen

Nancy S
says:
March, 14 2017 at 3:29 pm
Thank you, Leif.

I appreciate all of your thoughts and what's worked for you as well as others you've known or know. It's a very lonely world when you know speaking to people you call your friends just aren't able to ever get it or try to. (I've emailed many an article about how it feels to have such illnesses and what friends can do to help vs make things worse). For the most part they've gone unread. That's been so disheartening to me, yet they ask me to go on day long outings that consist of tiresome and overwhelming things and get upset when I say it's just too much.
I feel like I've started my life over from rock bottom over these last many years. The person I was is still inside and remembers so many things I loved doing along with a full time job, marriage, and outside interests.
Those interests all suffered when my now ex spouse whittled away at me by alienating me and making me feel guilty if I wanted to do anything without him. Amazing how we can look back and think somehow those jealousies were misdirected love.
My parents were very unaffectionate and never encouraging other than I keep my grades up and "do good and stay out of trouble", which I always did. I've learned they gave me no foundation for any self esteem or self confidence. I did find that at my jobs through my lifetime. I had their respect, admiration, and it seemed everyone was my friend. Those were all good years. Years I miss. Years I was highly social, and people flocked to me as friends. I miss those years so very much.

Nothing sounds funny about your dad taking you out for walks and no expectations put on you! What a wonderful thing you and he enjoyed! Plus the woman's cat! Fabulous!
I've often thought and joked that my Golden Retriever, Sophia, should be allowed anywhere I go. (Lots of her breed are service animals). How to go about these things are tough. I find road blocks everywhere now.
I can say I've been lucky to have had some excellent Psychiatrists, and counselors through the years. For that I'm grateful. But as I've stated, Mental Health Care, or (non care), as I've referred to it in the last couple years has taken a huge downhill course that's not coming back. The good Dr's have left the area, or now are no longer taking Medicare or Medicaid (the states' health insurance), for us low income individuals because they're having hard times getting paid by such. A huge shame. Many are taking patients for cash only now. (How will that effect our countries mental health patients)?
Awful. I'm intelligent to know how wrong this is and that the people I've been forced to see because there are simply no good ones left, for medication. And now that's being threatened by my last one leaving who was able to prescribe as she saw fit, without a head Dr giving her guidelines to say who can have what medication or not. I can't fight this either from where I stand. Having no one who lives with me and has seen my mental health suffer so terribly but myself is as good as nothing. Having no one I list as an emergency contact tells them there's no one who will dispute any kind of wrong doings in my care. Seems wrong and it is. But it's fact as well. Yet we're supposedly treating mental health patients better as a nation. Again, not so in the worst way. I'm just one voice, and I've tried to fight for care for too long now. It's exhausting. It's humiliating. It makes you feel like you're not worth it and you should give up. I've felt that way many times. My dog does keep me going. I said I do worry about the day I'm without her. A lot. She's meant more to me than any one human being has in my life for years now. Along with the two prior to her.

I am finally seeing a counselor, that I sought out after having been referred by my counselor of 4+ years who left and relocated to Germany now 3 years ago this month. I was able to get an appt with him this last summer finally. He's good, and understands and hears what I'm saying, and relates to how I feel in regards to the devastation of losing my daughter & granddaughters, through the poisoning of my now ex husband. Her ex step dad. That's something I've not been able to live with or along side of it as my counselor, Chaz, says I need to do. I have no purpose any longer, that is a huge problem.
Never in my life did I imagine that could or would ever happen. It's been the most devastating thing that anyone could consciously attempt and succeed at doing. I don't blame my daughter for whatever lies she's believed about me. After all I was married to the same man who lied and deceived me for a number of years. He's that convincing. The fact that I'm afraid of him and all of his threats in the past has kept me from trying to talk to her. He moved within a mile from my daughter, who's 8 miles from me. A short distance yet it seems at the other end of the globe, as I won't even drive by in their location because I'm afraid of the consequences. He's flattened my tires, and other things that I've had no proof of in the past other than I was positive it was him by little things he'd left nearby that told me it was him. Law enforcement can't and won't do anything because it's not vandalism and again, I have no proof. I wish I could afford surveillance cameras. I would have them installed. He's very sneaky and knows he can easily get to me by doing these childish things. And I've never so much as told anyone so that the info would get back to him about these foolish incidents, because that's what toxic people want. They live for a reaction, of which I'll never give him the satisfaction of having. He is in contempt of court for maintenance payments since the month after our divorce. 9/1/13. Not a penny. I struggle each and every month. He swore he'd never give me a cent. I can't afford an Atty and am afraid of what would transpire on my own. The courthouse is a place of huge trauma for me and I can't drive by it without having an anxiety or panic attack. What a shame it is that these things happen but I know I'm not the only one.
I apologize for rambling on and on. I wanted you to know fully what I'm dealing with, as you've been so kind to take the extra time to reply back and offer more guidance.
I do appreciate that more than you might know. I'm a kind person. A loving person. A person who's being denied the love of those closest few that will always be in my heart. I pray my daughter will reach out to me somehow one day as I can't say exactly what her relationship is now with my ex. Her biological father was never a father to her, so when I heard that she believed she and my ex have a relationship that has nothing to do with me, (from a niece who asked her), how could I even try to tell her his only reason for that is because of keeping me away and weak? I'm more than positive on that summation. He hated her and told me so dozens if not hundreds of times. Plus he hates children. He has had no relationship with his own grown son for nearly as long as I've known them. I tried to pull that together, myself. He's one of those people who nothing matters to but themselves and unfortunately I learned that far too late in our marriage and not a soul believed that to be true either. I'm sure the woman he's with now has had more than a taste of his ego and how he uses people only for his advantage. They deserve each other. Cheaters with cheaters. There can't be any trust there! I'm free of that and grateful I have that peace of mind.

Thank you again. You've been more than kind and informative. I look forward to keeping up with you and your articles, etc.

Sincerely,

Nancy S

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 15 2017 at 11:56 pm
Hi, Nancy. I had written a long response to your post and for some reason, it was deleted when I mistakenly hit the 'tab' button. I wanted to say that in many ways you are on the right track. It is great that you have found a counsellor who listens to you. Often we can have people who are there to help us and we can't get everything out when we see them for one reason or another. When I was last in the hospital, I decided to make a list of all the things I needed to ask my Doctor and I typed it into a computer and printed it up. I showed it to my Doctor and after spending six months in the hospital I was released in just a few weeks. The note helped not just because they saw I wanted to get better and would listen to their advice, but also because they thought I was so ill and non-functional that I couldn't type something up nicely like that.
It is an awful thing about your ex poisoning your children against you. I don't know if this is relevant, but if he were a drinker there are groups like Alanon that you can go to to find healing from abusive relationships and toxic relationships. These are mostly free or by donation. I also think that when you stopped being in contact with your daughter and your marriage ended that you went through a loss. There is an author who talks about healing and loss who just may be up your alley called "Elizabeth Kuubler-Ross" I read her books when my mom passed and it was an immense help. There are also resources like your local hospital who may have grief or other types of counsellors who would be able to see you on a sliding scale basis. I hope these don't sound too simple and basic to you, many people aren't aware of the help that is out there and suffer in silence. I could go on, but I want to end at that for now and emphasize that you are obviously a very caring and intelligent person, perhaps you need the help of an anti-depressant for a while, perhaps you need specialized treatment, but I think if you hang on and let yourself heal you still have the chance of a great life ahead of you. There is just one more small thing, there is a young woman I work with who went through a recovery period for mental illness and she said one of the things she did was go for a lot of reiki massage. She said the healing power of touch is something that greatly benefitted her. Just a small thing you may want to look into. I hope you have a great day, and please feel free to post information and questions here in the future.
Leif Gregersen
Nancy S
says:
March, 13 2017 at 2:37 pm
Natasha & Leif,

Thank you both for responding and obviously taking the time to read what my issues are. That's very much appreciated.

I've lived alone since separating and divorcing my now ex-husband over 5 years ago. I live with my Golden Retriever. It's extremely lonely & I've begged the handful of friends I do have to just come over to talk and hold my hand or offer a shoulder to cry on. I've done that recently. Never before have I been so specific. I was turned down and ignored. It crushed me. Again. After losing people I love to vicious lies and made up stories I've never so much have been asked a single question about.
I have a grown daughter from a first marriage out of high school that this second ex husband has poisoned against me. (Narcissistic ex spouse). She was my life along with my three young granddaughters, I've not seen now for nearly 5 years. It's devastated me to the point I can't force myself to leave my place many times. He'd alienated me from friends, family and my adult daughter. My divorce was a circus and that's where most of the trauma came from. The judge denied me a continuance to get new legal help after mine dumped me due to my now ex delaying and going through 3 attys himself. I told the new judge assigned to our divorce that I suffered with MDD and anxiety for years and that's why I was disabled and receiving disability income only. She told me that "you look fine to me, you walked in the courtroom alone without aid, so you'll represent yourself". Talk about discrimination! That was the beginning of the worst period in my life to date and not any support from friends or family because they don't even know it occurred.
I walk my dog as often as possible. I'm already worried about what I'll do when I don't have her any longer. She's been my best friend and constant companion for over 7 years. My ex wanted her saying that "she deserves to be happy, too", as he blamed me for choosing depression, etc., over him as did my family. Sad isn't it? I'm 56 and you'd never know to look at me when I'm out somewhere that I'm trying to hold myself together before falling apart from the anxiety of what my groceries may cost at the checkout. Plus, if anyone startles me I'll jump and then apologize to them for that. I have my best conversations when I'm talking to strangers. Strangers have been more kind to me than anyone I've known in the past through this. I'm grateful for that. But I'm scared. Scared because I'm losing another mental health care provider and the possibility of not having the meds I'm on now prescribed because I don't fit into a slot that one Dr has designed for Dr's under him.
It's ludicrous to me and nobody gets what I'm talking about when I tell them this because the friends I talk with don't have mental illnesses or have family that do. They can't imagine I'm telling them the truth and that's ridiculous!
I'd love to someday be able to work a part time job. That's been a long term goal for years now. It seems farther away than ever. I worked in the banking/mortgage industry my entire adult life until losing my underwriter position in 2006. I miss the things I used to do and loved. I believe my depression was brought on by situations & people. My ex and my mother, (also narcissistic traits), that I stopped all contact with 5 years ago myself, when I could no longer deal with her criticisms, etc.

I have a YMCA close by. I should also be able to join for nearly nothing, but the crippling fear of doing something so major like that has kept me away out of my fear of pure failure.

Thanks for reading my story. I will take down the information listed and use it.

Sincerely,

Nancy S

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 13 2017 at 10:27 pm
Hi, Nancy. I certainly understand how crippling anxiety can be. I think it is admirable that you can overcome it in a way by taking your dog for walks. I will tell you something that may seem funny, but when I was recovering from my last hospital stay there was a time when I had no expectations put on me, and my dad would come and take me for a walk each day in the river valley of the beautiful city where we live. It was very healing. If nothing else, I hope you can keep doing this. I have even heard of a young woman who had a cat who helped her with her anxiety and was able to get it registered as a 'service animal' just like a seeing eye dog would be so she could bring her cat everywhere. In the time when my dad was taking me for walks, I also had a pet, and it was if nothing else a reason to keep going, keep trying.
A doctor diagnosed me with anxiety some years ago, but it isn't nearly as severe as yours. My main issue was that I would worry a lot and it ended up causing me to be prescribed a powerful prescription antacid pill permanently. Anxiety can eat away at a person. I hope there are resources in your community that you can access that you can afford that will help. One good way of dealing with anxiety is to get into a regular support group. It doesn't even have to be populated with all people with your same illness, getting out and talking in a safe setting can be extremely helpful. Where I live, there are agencies like Catholic Social Services and other "church" led organizations that can be extremely helpful in not only providing services but also in directing people to services. It won't be easy, but you have to stand up for your right to get healing therapies. I have heard much good about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and there may be hospital counseling staff or even private practice psychologists who can work with a person on a low income. Please do feel free to ask me if you try these things and want more ideas. I know very little about the US system, but I am here to help and would love to if I could in any way I can.
Terry
says:
March, 12 2017 at 12:01 pm
I am a paranoid schizophrenic I isolate myself from society because when I go out I have to worry about people watching me. I take my meds everyday, but still have problems with the government spying on me. They know the government knows that I am chosen by God to hear different frequencies of voices of extraterrestrials communicating with me as well as demonic forces from different dimensions. Taking 30mg of Abilify and 1mg of kolonpin 4 times a day. Took clozaril for 5 to 6 years worked quit well for me , but can't take it any more because my white blood count went dangerously low so my psychiatrist had to switch my meds. Don't know what to do!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 13 2017 at 11:07 am
It can be an extremely difficult thing to deal with severe schizophrenia. I feel reluctant to advise as I don't have any type of medical license, only some University studies in Psychology, so I will try and reply to your comment with some advice that helped me through some tough times. One piece of advice is to not put any expectations on yourself. You are a full, valuable member of the human race even if you aren't fully functional at this time. You still have the same rights and needs of anyone. Try to take your life one day, even one hour at a time. There really is hope for the future and there are many people who care about your well-being. Medications are being developed and new treatments are being discovered all the time. Never give up the fight against mental illness, it can definitely be won. If you ever feel suicidal, there are many hotlines you can access to get help. You can find a lot of them here on healthyplace.com as listed above
and below:
http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/

My final piece of advice comes from my own experience as well. If you are going through some tough times with medication and moods, try and find a place where you can live supervised by mental health staff and where there are other people who have mental health issues. This may seem odd at first, but you may find that you can make more friends and live happier when you are around others who suffer from a mental illness. The most important part of this is that there will be almost no stigma against you among adults who have similar problems. Best of luck.
Dr Musli Ferati
says:
March, 9 2017 at 3:57 am
Social isolation and exclusion is common and unavoidable fate of mentally ill person due to mental health stigma and primitive attitude toward mentally ill patient and their close relations and friend, as well. This course and fatality destroy profoundly the definitive prognosis of respective mental disorder make it impossible the comprehensive psychiatric treatment and management of any patient with any mental illness. So it is necessary to prevent social isolation and loneliness in order to aggravate the definitive flow and prognosis of concrete mental disorder. Your genuine example indicate great and helpful step to avoid social death as the most worst externity of any person with mental difficulty. In this direction, it ought to supply social support to psychiatric patient by respective community the so called social rehabilitation and resocialization as effective way to to hinder isolation and loneliness. Without this undertaking the psychiatric treatment is defect one, with many bad complications such are relapse, social isolation and occupational devastation.
Nancy S
says:
March, 8 2017 at 12:58 pm
To " NoMore " and Healthy Place;
I find it alarming that nobody has responded to the above questions from 1/27/17! How could that be?
I'm reading the article today as it came in an email I subscribe to. I myself, isolate and am extremely lonely. It's why I turned to this site today to help me help myself with this unending hamster wheel I'm on. But if I see no one has even bothered to monitor and answer these posts from those of us asking for help, what use is it?
For myself, I'll likely hide away longer since I know nobody is here when myself or someone like " NoMore " asks for help.
I've already lost my family, most friends and the very few outside people I've met give up on you if you don't feel up to meeting them due to overwhelming anxiety and depression, that I've tried to keep in check so that nobody really knows the issues I have. It's a game changer. An excuse for someone to say "she's crazy, she's mentally ill, she's whatever"!!
Mental health stigma is a horrible thing so many of us deal with in some way each and every day. We wake up with it, (if we sleep), we go to bed with it, (trying to calm our overactive brains with overthinking), and we live with it, (or barely exist), as I feel I'm only doing in the hours I'm awake.
To NoMore: I find the same problems with Dr's, psychiatrists, APN's, counselors, etc.
Where I live the two closest hospitals have both done away with their psychiatric wards and staff. Both hospitals are building newer, bigger, better hospitals. They aren't staffing those new hospitals with a mental health staff either. I'm constantly told Mental Health is a money loser. I also have a hard time finding Dr's, etc., who'll take me or my insurance. I've had the same ridiculous things happen with my meds being prescribed wrong. I've been without all meds for as long as two weeks because a Dr was gone and nobody else would step in and prescribe. I've been left with no support system. NONE. The same people who tell you don't stop taking your medications as directed without a Dr's approval have left me high and dry with not so much as an apology. That apology would mean they've made an error. That's not ever going to be admitted.
It's all a pitiful shame. I've been told I didn't matter because I don't work due to disabling MDD, Crippling Anxiety, and as of 3+ years ago was diagnosed with C-PTSD, after many horrific and traumatic incidents that nobody should have to go through.
Where's the help here? I am appalled that the person asking for their questions answered got no reply. I'm frightened for myself when that happens. I've had to leave Facebook because of too many personal problems dealing with an ex husband who's a narcissist, and I've had to shelter myself from any and all things having to do with him. No contact and no reaction is the only way to deal with those people, which helped cause the catastrophic loneliness I feel which then makes me isolate from the outside world. A world that I miss most days but am afraid to enter into again with so much stigma and ridicule.
I sincerely hope someone other than myself happened to see this. I believe someone from The Health Place should monitor all articles, etc., for comments so that no one is left behind like this. It only makes good sense. Proper sense. Thank you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
says:
March, 13 2017 at 10:00 am
Hi Nancy S,

I'm sorry that no one got back to a previous comment. Unfortunately, our writers do not always have the time to answer every comment. I assure you, comments are important to all of us and we try to respond when we can.

If you or someone else is looking for additional help, I recommend you call one of the helplines or check out some of the resources we have provided here: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/

- Natasha Tray
- Blog Manager

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 13 2017 at 11:26 am
Hello. I want to offer a sincere apology for not responding to your comment and the others sooner. There was a bit of confusion on my end as to who needed to respond to comments and sadly you were the one to suffer. I promise to do the best I can to not let this happen again. I find it horrifying that the hospitals in your area have cut funding for mental health programs. I lived since a young age with a parent with a mental illness who often needed hospitalization and I myself up until a few years ago needed the same. I have a hard time understanding a political system that neglects its most vulnerable citizens. At the same time, I don't know what is best to tell you that can help your situation. I did notice that you mentioned you isolate yourself and this causes problems. Once, when I was about to leave a hospital, a very intelligent and kind Psychiatrist told me that I should put an ad in a University newspaper looking for a roommate who was in a social work or psychology program. She told me that people with mental health issues should not ever live alone. I did find one later on and he not only helped me in many ways, he helped me get work that I could handle. I understand some of what you go through with your anxiety and PTSD, those definitely are crippling and there is no way you should be forced to go out and work by either physical or mental abuse laid upon you. Sadly, there are no real easy answers. We need money to live, but the stress of working can kill us. The world is a very unfair place. I want to list some resources below for you, but I also wanted to make a suggestion or two that helped me. After I got out of the hospital for my last visit, I was in poor physical and mental shape. I took advantage of a low-income facilities pass (which your local YMCA/YWCA may have) and started out going for a swim and/or a walk each day. Long steam baths or soaks in the hot tub were punctuated with cold dips into the pool. Soon there were other advantages I found in doing this. One was that I met people and got to know the regulars at the pool. Soon I also felt better about myself and the exercise lowered my anxiety and stress levels. But I really don't know if you're at the point to do that, so I would like to encourage you to write down the phone numbers for the link I am going to put below and keep them in your wallet or purse for any occasion you might need them.

http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
NoMore
says:
January, 21 2017 at 10:53 am
I am new to this blog. I am writing because although I have been diagnosed with "severe PTSD$ and "acute major clinical depression", I am always having problems with getting a good psychiatrist. I am unable to sleep or drive after a violent, near death automobile accident. I have been unable to work and am on Medicaid, which makes finding a good dr. even more difficult. On one occasion, I hadn't slept for over three days and finallycollapsed into a "microsleep" and was an hour late to see my psychiatrist. I thought I found a good dr, but when this happened, she got very paranoid, said I was speaking slowly and was "drugged". I have no hesitation in telling someone this, because I wasn't "drugged", but I believe extremely bad sleep deprivation and being "drugged" may actually looked the same. I routinely get tolerance to medication (it has been the same for years) after taking it so long. I have to adjust it often, which is what/why I see the psychiatrist in addition to talk therapy. Very shocking to me, I was dropped by this doctor after just this one incident of being late and misdiagnosed as "drugged". I understand that they see this all the time, and are very afraid of malpractice. I have never indicated I'm suicidal or anything, ironically, I'm the opposite. I try to always have hope. I do not understand why psychiatrists do this, because with what they do, I would think they would carry adequate insurance. Another time, a psychiatrist I had who took my insurance was just plain incompetent. He would make constant prescription errors, had had his license revoked once, but was still practicing. Once he told me he lost my intake papers (6 pages) and I'd have to do them again. Another time he asked ME "What am I giving you?". He would spend 15 mins with me and seemed to run his practice like a subway station. Does anyone have any advice on finding a good dr/psychiatrist that isn't "malpractice shy" ? Or any advice on how to find a good psychiatrist who takes Medicaid? I am tired of going to a urgent care in between drs and REALLY tired of hearing how the "mental health care system is broken". Any suggestions? Thanks and peace to everyone on this forum, having a mental health condition is soooo frustrating and disappointing.

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