Stop Self-Stigma? It's Difficult to Do But You Can
Recognizing the only ones we can truly charge are ourselves, it seems it shouldn't be so difficult to stop self-stigma. On the contrary, though, it can be very challenging. If you are having trouble putting an end to mental health self-stigma, don't worry. It's not just you.
What It's Like to Struggle to Stop Self-Stigma
When it comes to mental health stigma, I believe our focus should be to minimize its effects on us as individuals. We may never be able to fully eliminate mental health stigma, but in changing how it impacts us, it and those who spread it lose power.
It's a heck of a lot easier to do this with outsiders than it is my own mind.
I regularly struggle to stop self-stigma. It's a discordance wherein the rational part of me butts up against the lies of stigma. It becomes a game of self-doubt that's hard to shake.
- What if stigma is right and I should be strong?
- What if stigma is right and this is somehow for attention?
- What if stigma is right and I can't talk about this?
No matter how much information and how many facts I have stored in my head, they're dwarfed by the lies. The fact that mental illness originates in the brain and isn't my fault is inconsequential during those times. The fact that struggles are valid doesn't even make a blip. It all gets overshadowed by the beast that is stigma, turned inward to transform into self-stigma. In those moments, none of the facts feel true for me.
You see, I struggle to believe that the words I tell others actually apply to me, too.
Why It's So Difficult to Stop Self-Stigma
The biggest challenge with self-stigma is we can't escape our own minds. Even with reshaping how we think about and understand mental health, surmounting self-stigma can be difficult because it's a constant back and forth of fact versus lie that's hard to stop and silence. The cognitive dissonance can resonate loudly, in particular when mental illness's symptoms are strong. Then it's a coupled onslaught of stigma and the illness's lies with which we must contend.
You're not the only one struggling if you're feeling this, too. In fact, if you can relate to any of what I've written here, it's proof that you're not alone. Stigma and mental illness like to tell us that we're alone, but it's not true.
It's not just me. It's not just you.
It's difficult to do, but we have to continue to challenge and push back against the self-stigma.
Barton, L. (2019, October 21). Stop Self-Stigma? It's Difficult to Do But You Can, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, March 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2019/10/stop-self-stigma-its-difficult-to-do-but-you-can
Author: Laura A. Barton
I needed this today, and yesterday and last year and for the last 40 years.
I found it kept me from wrapping my suicidal thoughts, thoughts I won't act on, but it is part of my "self-stigma" which I find I cannot explain to family, therapist or psych dr.'s.
And I am tired of the word "illness". That conveys to me a problem solved with little yellow, green or pink pills, medications have not come to fruition for me anyway. Illness; this is not the flu. It is not a broken leg. It is socially unacceptable to have "cerebral issues".
Hi MJ. I'm glad you came across my blog and that it resonated with you. I know how tough it can be to fight against self-stigma and it can often be difficult to explain to others. I agree that the words and terminologies we use to describe our situations are important and I can appreciate how the word illness comes across to you. I encourage you to explore different ways to express what you're going through. It's also a good exercise to broaden our perspective on what words can mean as well. Illness isn't always somethings only solved by oral medications; there are many treatments to consider. It's just about finding what's right for us. :)
I'll leave you with a couple of articles in case you'd like to take a look at them.
Mental Health Hotline Numbers and Referral Resources: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
Suicide Information, Resources & Support: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/suicide/suicide-suicidal-thoughts-and-behaviors-t…
I couldn't agree more, a game of self-doubt is self-stigma at its best. It's a game I keep telling ourselves I'm incapable of winning. I sabotage myself each time I feel like I've moved two spaces ahead; inevitably frustration and anger follow. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Laura, I've always thought it was just me.
You've hit the nail right on the head with your description, Judy. It does feel like it's impossible to win. You're definitely not alone and I'm glad that my blog can help with seeing that. Self-stigma is a beast, but we can keep fighting the good fight against it. You've got this. :)
"It's not just me. It's not just you." -- Beautiful, and so true. Stigma, particularly self-stigma as you pointed out is so good at making us think we are isolated, but we are never alone. It's wonderful to come across open and honest blog posts such as this one that serves as a support and a reminder of this very thing. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much, Lizanne! It really means a lot to me that you continue to read my blogs and that you find meaning in them. :)