Letting others know you have a mental illness can feel like a confession because of stigma. Telling someone about the illness for the first time can be a large, daunting task because of this feeling that you're revealing a deep, dark secret. This is because stigma tells us that reactions to mental health struggles will always be negative.
Dealing with Stigma
Many know the difficulty of dealing with mental health stigma, but there are also situations where a person might end up facing layers of stigma. This changes what it's like to deal with mental health stigma overall.
Overcoming mental health stigma is not something I would have thought possible. It's such a pervasive and negative force that it can seem insurmountable. Yet, upon reflection, I know it's not affecting me like it once did.
Is it mental health stigma? This is a great question to ask ourselves as not everything we encounter is. When we have mental health issues, we can be hypersensitive to any sort of situation that seems to involve our mental health or mental health in general. With this can come the sense that many things are a manifestation of stigma. It's important to recognize, however, that no everything is mental health stigma, even if what we're facing is negative.
We need a mental health stigma holiday survival guide to make it through this time of year. Learn how to deal with mental health stigma during the holidays here.
As a form of expression, writing can help us understand the world around us and our experiences, including experiences with mental health. Many mental health advocates talk about journaling specifically as a tool for mental health recovery. But, journaling isn't the only form of writing beneficial to mental health.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing enough to fight mental health stigma. In the mental health community, one of the main things we talk about is combatting stigma. So much so that I'd argue there's this sense of pressure to always be going up against it as well. While fighting mental health stigma is important, pressure of any kind can be harmful.
The stigma surrounding drug addiction can be just as pervasive as drug addiction itself. It's important to realize that spreading drug addiction stigma doesn't address the overall issue of drug addiction or to people recovering from the illness.
Fighting mental health stigma can be scary, especially knowing things will change once you stop being silent and start speaking out. The scariness might be because you live with a mental illness, so you'll be opening up to vulnerability. Or it could be because you'll be clashing head-on with stigma's titan-like reputation. Sometimes you're not even sure exactly how things will be different. So what changes when you begin fighting mental health stigma?
#YouCantCensorMySkin is a backlash against Instagram's attempt to censor self-harm scars on the platform. There are many reasons why something might be censored. In the mental health sphere, it's often done in an attempt to avoid negatively impacting others by triggering them. This is especially true for self-harm, but it begs the question of at what point does censorship become stigma?