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Self Stigma

Laura A. Barton
Confession time: I feel like a burden because of my mental illnesses. It's perhaps ironic I've previously written about how mental health stigma makes talking about mental illness feel like a confession, and, now, here I am—confessing. I've never said the words aloud, but feeling like a burden is pretty regular for me, and I don't think people would expect it. So, yes, this feels like a confession. And I'm also questioning if this is self-stigma or reality.
Laura A. Barton
A "Forbes" article from 2019 cites that 80 percent of New Year's Resolutions fail, sharing a number of reasons why that happens.[1] When it comes to your mental health goals, can stigma be one of the things derailing your resolutions? We're nearing the end of this first month into the new year, and I know many people will be evaluating how they're doing with their resolutions, so I wanted to take a look at this topic.
Laura A. Barton
Surviving mental health stigma during isolation sounds like it would be an easy sort of situation. Even with isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, the general idea of this practice is we're simply staying home and everything is okay, but that's not the case for everyone. Although the word "isolation," especially "self-isolation," gives this sense of being away from harmful things, there are still opportunities for mental health stigma.
Laura A. Barton
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, 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.
Laura A. Barton
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?
Laura A. Barton
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.
Laura A. Barton
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.
Laura A. Barton
I combat self-stigma with books about mental health because as much as I love the online world and the connections it's helped me make, there's something about a physical book that can't be beat. I often find myself looking for books when I want to read personal accounts of journeys with mental illness and health in general. It's not just about reading the stories though — I find I seek them out most when the noise in my head is too loud. Reading these kinds of stories actually helps me combat self-stigma drumming away in the back of my mind.
Laura A. Barton
The idea of mental strength often plays into mental health stigma. Out of the many ways we endeavor to encourage people through tough periods of mental illness, encouragement to use mental strength is pointless. Many of these ways are phrases or words meant with the best intentions, but they can also be potentially harmful — or at least I’ve seen the harmful effects they’ve had. Of the number of platitudes people say, one I get stuck on is “stay strong.”
Laura A. Barton
How we ask about a person's mental illness matters because language can stigmatize mental illness. At the core of stigmatizing mental health conversations, is the idea that mental illnesses are not real, legitimate illnesses. It’s one of the basics when talking about mental illness, and to some degree, it seems like we should be well past this statement by now. But we’re not. It’s not just naysayers of mental illness that make the mistake, either; in some cases, even those who have mental illness or know someone who does still don't know what to say to someone with a mental illness. They seem to want to think of mental illness as something other than a sickness and end up contributing to stigma in the questions they ask about a person's mental illness.