The Lasting Effects of Mental Health Stigma
There are lasting effects of mental health stigma that go beyond shame, silence, and the way we navigate the world. When thinking of stigma and its impacts, those are often the things that come up, but there are other lasting effects of mental health stigma as well, such as how we interact with people.
The Long-Term Effects of Mental Health Stigma Have Changed How I Interact with People
Interacting with people and navigating the world potentially sound similar, but I see them differently. To me, navigating the world is how I prepare for and approach situations in general. Interacting with people is the organic, interpersonal exchange and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with preparing for how the exchange will unfold. Long-term effects of mental health stigma have changed the way this happens for me, in both positive and negative ways.
I always thought experiencing mental illness, mental health stigma, and the way they impacted me had a positive effect on how I interacted with others. I'd tote about how it's made me more compassionate and given me an empathetic eye. I've seen other people who have experience with mental health stigma share this positive effect as well ("What Mental Illness Has Taught Me About Empathy"). Although I have gained more empathy, I'm beginning to see that not all the effects have been positive.
While I was of the mind that I hadn't become jaded by the negativity and stigma that I faced due to my mental illnesses, I've come to realize that's not quite true. Jaded is perhaps a bit of a strong word, but there have been negative, lasting effects from mental health stigma that have directly impacted the way I interact with people.
Lasting, Negative Effects of Mental Health Stigma
I can look at most people in various circumstances and have empathy for them and their situations, but I have a hard time empathizing with those who have stigmatized me regarding my mental health. Recently, I've come to see just how much this is a long-term effect of mental health stigma in my life.
It's terrible to say, but when people that have stigmatized me into silence when I was struggling with my mental health issues are struggling with anything themselves, I have a hard time connecting with them and their situation. I wouldn't say I wish ill will on them, but I don't have the same level of empathy and understanding that I might if it were someone else. In many cases, I know I've come off as uncaring and probably even mean. My thoughts always seem to circle back to, "I wasn't allowed to show my hurt, so why are you?"
It's very petty, and I don't like being that kind of person. But I now see this as one of the negative effects of mental health stigma that I still need to contend with. I can't say I anticipated this to be among the lasting effects, but here I am.
It's interesting to me because I've been writing about how mental health stigma has little to no effect on me, then, all of a sudden, I have this to deal with. Well, I imagine I've been dealing with them all along, but it's almost like I'm only noticing them for the first time. What it shows me is that mental health stigma and its lasting effects are more complicated than meets the eye.
What effects of mental health stigma do you feel or notice in yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Barton, L. (2020, June 1). The Lasting Effects of Mental Health Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2020/6/the-lasting-effects-of-mental-health-stigma