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Dealing with 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?
While there are many people in the world who continue to stigmatize mental health, sometimes the most trying situations come from dealing with the people in our immediate lives who continue to spread stigma. There are a number of ways to handle people who approach mental health from a perspective of stigma, but here are 2 easy ways that you can deal with the people in your life.
Grief from the loss of a pet is generally not well understood by others. But grief is a complicated experience that impacts people in different ways. Because loss isn't one size fits all, it can be difficult to understand, and the grief from the loss of a pet can become subject to stigma.
Despite my best efforts and all that I do, I sometimes catch myself thinking stigmatizing thoughts related to mental health and people with mental illness. I'm sure others do too, especially those who may be new to the mental health sphere. There are steps we can take to manage those stigmatizing thoughts to turn them around and lessen their frequency.
Will your new year resolutions cause self-stigma? With the new year comes new resolutions. Many times those resolutions center around health and wellbeing, so it's no surprise people are making resolutions to overcome mental health struggles. But can new years resolutions create mental health self-stigma?
It may seem odd to say that mental health stigma might actually be self-care, but hear me out. When we're struggling and someone pulls away, it can feel very much like mental health stigma. We might think that person doesn't understand or is being unfair. But what if that person is simply practising self-care?
Self-stigmatizing negative thoughts can work their way into your mind when you live with a mental illness. Learning how to deal with negative thoughts is one of the biggest learning curves there is. Personally, it's something that I still struggle with, too. When things become still and I'm left with myself, it gets loud in my head. The self-stigmatizing negative thoughts begin to incessantly drum away and it becomes challenging to deal with, but I do have helpful strategies.
I tell my mental illness story with tattoos because they both tell stories and help us tell our stories. Those stories can be about anything, and countless people have gotten their skin permanently marked with representations of their journeys with mental illness, myself included. My tattoos give me the opportunity to share my mental illness story and talk about mental health in general. Most conversations are positive, but as with most things mental illness-related, stigma is never too far off.
If I were to ask you to picture someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, what would you imagine? My guess is someone wearing dark clothes with a haggard expression and overall looking like he or she are down on his or her luck. The image of someone who seems to have it all together might not come to mind at all. But, like mental illness, suicidal thoughts aren't reserved only for those whose circumstances "warrant" it. Suicidal ideation can and does affect anyone at any time, even when life is otherwise good.
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