Archive for the ‘Stigma’ Tag

If I Could Choose to Never be Depressed I Would!   Leave a comment

depression-ADBy Angela Hill Dickson

If I could choose never to be depressed…I would choose happiness…it is not like flipping a dang switch!

I just want there to be more tolerance and for people to maybe get a bit more educated on mental health issues, rather than just assume and make stupid comments that do not help!

I say: Feel your feelings and let me feel mine. And if you cannot be helpful, get out of the way…I am in a “process” here!!

There is no other option than to support each other, because if we do not there is nothing.

Support = Love and. Love= Support!!!

Each person who has a mental health issue is responsible to do their part in taking care of themselves and helping themselves. BUT they need a strong support system, plenty of rest, to take meds if they are on them, and to be eating and healthy.

The things that can make a person shut down fast: not feeling supported, feeling blamed for situations that are out of their hands, having people resent them for their mental health issues, and more. Life is hard for everyone…life gets complicated, marriages suffer, kids suffer.

People might think: WHY feel so depressed? You have so much! You have kids, a husband, friends, clothes on your back, vehicles, food, etc. Yes, I have all of that and I am VERY thankful for the blessings I have, but I cannot change the chemical imbalance in my brain, I cannot control the rapid cycling of thoughts and emotions, the bad thoughts just come, the feeling of hopelessness that can just drop out of no where, the irrational fears, the pain. If I could control all of that, I would be different! I apologize to my kids all the time that I am sad. Kaleb (12-year-old son) looked me right in the eye yesterday and said: “It is not your fault, Mom…I know if you could choose to be happy, you would be. When you are happy, you are wonderful!” And he hugged me and I cried. He has more compassion and understanding than most adults. And that makes me sad, too. That he has had to grow up processing everything and having to be so mature and adult in this. It hurts my heart that my kids see me sad. I try very hard EVERY day to be positive, to find the things to be hopeful for and to be thankful for my blessings. Some days are harder and I reach out. Some days are worse and I just want to hide. but EVERY DAY I am still fighting….
I am not lazy or stupid or mean. I am suffering with a chemical imbalance in my brain. I am a work in progress. I am hopeful for the future. I am ME and I accept that. And all I want to do is be accepted….just as anyone else does. And that, my friends, is ALL I can do.

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I’m not sick, I have an Illness!   8 comments

The stigma of mental illness is one issue that ANY individual with a mental illness will have to face. It is such an issue that major nonprofit mental health organizations and government agencies, such as NAMI and SAMSHA, have developed policies and programs to battle it is society a whole.

I contend that there is an even greater stigma that an individual with a mental illness must address, the stigma and limitations which he/she places on himself/herself as the result of this diagnosis.  Many individuals, whether they are newly diagnosed or one who has battled mental illness for years, allow their mental illness to be the center of their identity. It is the “colored glasses” through which they look at the world and thus react or respond to it.

Let’s look a little closer at the statement that entitles this article, “I’m not sick, I have an illness.”  When you here someone say, “I’m sick”, what are they saying? I identify myself by my illness. My being “sick” is the defining characteristic of who I am.” “I’m sick”, so I can’t take care of myself or the house. “I’m sick”, so I can’t go to work today. “I am sick”, so I need someone to take care of me.  In other words, because “I am sick”, I make judgments regarding what I am capable or not capable of doing without even attempting them. “I’m sick” implies that I am powerless and I am the victim of my situation. I have heard it said that when someone says “I’m sick” it is like giving up and not believing that treatment and recovery are possible.

“I’m sick; I have depression, so I can’t find and keep a job.”

“I’m Sick; I’m Bipolar, so I can’t control my spending and risk taking behavior.”

On the other hand, if “I have an Illness”. The illness is something that affects me, but is not something that identify as defining who I am, or what I am capable of doing. By acknowledging “I have an Illness”, I admit that I need treatment and I need help, but it does not mean that I am the stuck in this condition forever. “I have an illness” implies that with treatment recovery is possible. “I have an illness” means that the illness is simply a part of my current state; it is not the totality of who I am.

When we maintain an “I’m sick” mentality, we often do not give ourselves the credit for the strength and abilities that reside within. We allow our “sickness” to steal our self-esteem and confidence and when we feel weak and vulnerable, we had rather limit our potential than to try ANYTHING and fail.

I have seen so many individuals who were much stronger and capable than they were willing to give themselves credit. Think about your own friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances who have a mental illness, how many of them do you know are stronger than and more capable than their choices and behaviors demonstrate? Have you limited yourself, due to your illness?

Please don’t get me wrong, mental illness is a great foe and can and does affected all areas of our lives: home, relationships, school, friends, work, etc. It is not an issue which we can simply do lip service and “sweep under the rug.” However, it is not the sole characteristic that defines or personality and identity. Let me illustrate.

In the first circle you can see how ones mental illness, is the focus of and individual’s identity and everything else about them is in seen through the illness. However, on the other hand, in the second circle we can see that the individuals Mental illness is still a part of the individual, but it is just that a characteristic or component of the identity.

We must grasp the control and power that we have given to our illness and choose apply it as we strive for the hopes and dreams that have long existed in our hearts and minds, but we would not allow ourselves to believe that we were capable of achieving them.

Once we begin to master the stigma within, then we actually become more comfortable in our illness and we are not ashamed or reserved in our interactions with others. We can openly and honestly provide education to those whom we encounter which treat us with stigma and discrimination because the are aware of our mental illness.

Education and open communication are the BEST weapons that we have as we battle the stigma that is without; but we must first and foremost conquer the stigma that is within!

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