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Readers Respond: How Has Stigma Affected You?

Responses: 84

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Updated October 22, 2009

bipolarpastor

i worked 1/2 my life in high rank as care giver to many myself. isn't it funny ,helping others ,helpes us in some way too. Seem to have a good insight. Thanksto all for making me feel so unalone in my world !
—Guest lepor

bi polar was unknown.

looking back through my whole life I could feel others looking at me as different; the wild untamed one. then lie in bed so depressed for a year straight. Loved by few if any. used as a young child by many, them seeing my need for love and affection. I showed myself as a tough one to hide my feelings of rejection to some to protect myself. In my higher moments i would self-destruct; using alcohol to self medicate (which i don't touch now) worst thing I could of done, led me down some real unsafe and scary paths. talk about being frowned on and cast out. I isolate myself now at age 57 still have 3 heads!
—lepor

Bipolar Disorder

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in September of 2007 when I was 17 years old. I was inpatient in a psychiatric hospital for 3 weeks & I was in outpatient at the psychiatric hospital for 4 weeks. When I finally was able to return to school my psychiatrist & my mom thought it was best not to tell my classmates that I was inpatient at a psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This is because there is such a horrible stigma related to mental illnesses and especially bipolar disorder. I wish I could have been honest with my classmates and tell them that I was inpatient and got diagnosed with bipolar disorder,but my classmates would probably make fun of me and think I was crazy.I wish I could tell everyone I know who doesn't know I have bipolar disorder to know, but I'd be judged. I really hope the stigma changes in a positive way. I am now 20 & I still struggle every day. Sometimes I will feel depressed, sometimes I will feel hyper and somewhat happy.
—Guest Not Sharing My Identity

Alone in the World

I have Major Depressive Disorder. I am also suicidal, which I fight daily. I tried to talk to friends for support (Dr.'s recommendation), and in less than two months, I had no friends. My mother wanted me to snap out of it, my father will not speak to me, and that was 10 years ago... my sister has not spoken to me in 14 years. So, there is no use in trying to make friends at all anymore. Even those who are supposed to be there to help, at the mental health facilities, have judged me harsher than complete strangers have. There is no escape. In trying to help myself, I have been shunned by every single person in my life. Funny thing is, with my own schedule of holistic treatment, I am doing better than ever before! But no one who ever knew me in 34 years will ever know the healthy me, because they ran away long ago. I am as intelligent, and as worthy of life as any individual. But, it hurts to be so unfairly rejected by the whole of society.
—Guest Heather Leona

an interesting story and comment

My former psychiatrist's office had a policy that their employees couldn't use such words such as "crazy" or "nuts." I understand. One day as I was coming in for my appt, I saw one of the ladies behind the counter who looked frazzled. I asked her if all was ok. She said no and that "I don't know what's wrong. I think I'm going out of my mind." I just smiled and said, "I know what that's like." She caught herself and apologized. I said it's ok. (I knew she didn't do it on purpose.) But these kinds of words are so common and in movies. We need preachers to preach against it, etc. There is a 4-yr-old girl across the street who visits. I moved in with my folks while my disability is in the works. This girl is raised by her grandmother, a nurse. Sometimes, I think the grandmother watches me carefully because she knows I am "different" because of my bipolar. On the other hand, my caseworker told me that bipolars do not trust...so this could be a bit of bipolar paranoia or psychosis.
—MichelleP12

evil comment

I had a former acquaintance, a real witch (she called herself that and she did do voodoo in secret I later discovered) tell me years ago after my diagnosis that it was a good thing that I never had kids because, since I am bipolar, had I had children, I would have been in jail for killing them in one of my rage mood stages. This witch was real cruel and was the leader of a "Christian" prayer group that I joined many years ago. She came across caring in the beginning, but as time went by, she seemed more odd and so I realized that she had a mask on, like many people out there. The true person under the mask was the one who enjoyed hurting people and saying cruel things. The good thing is that I got out of the group, which I discovered was a cult (it was easy to fall prey, with my messed-up bipolar thinking) but getting back on my meds after 2 yrs off made it easier to see the truth about things. I moved away and have new supportive friends and go to NAMI meetings every week. Praise God!
—MichelleP12

Punishment

I was blessed with three beautiful daughters that I love very much. Unfortunately, when they were young my illness was at it's worst and slowly but surely I lost the ability to care for my children. It was hard enough for me to care for myself. It seemed as though no one wanted to help me, everyone just thought it would be best if they were not in my care. I felt like I was being punished because for my illness. It was as though they thought, everything will be alright if we just get these kids away from her. After they were gone, I continued to fall apart. I was only able to seem them during supervised visits. After a few years, I found a wonderful doctor who got me on the right combination of meds and I began to bounce back. But my children by this time were no longer a part of my life because their caretakers thought it would be best for them that way. I miss my children everyday. It hurts so much. I can't even wish them a happy birthday or tell them I love them.
—Guest Tammy

Frustrated in SoCal

I definitely understand what pretty much everyone here is saying. I have been fighting with severe bi-polar half my life + (I'm 34 years old). If you tell ppl you are bipolar they think you are criminally insane (yes I've had problems legally but in reality so have a lot of other unmedicated bi-polar people) , or are mentally retarded usually. My mother has been a strong advocate for me, and the mothers of my children is very understanding now, but most people think i should basically get over it. I have an impossible time holding down a regular job plus I have no insurance and have been stuck on a Prozac/Lithium combo for years that hasn't really had a noticeable effect for a LONG time. Its hard for me to work and function normally. I wish the public had more compassion and understanding of this condition. It's not because people are being lazy or whining - it's a serious condition and no fun to live with.
—Guest ToddzillaSCal

"Sorry to hear that"

Yeah, when I found out I had bipolar, I was sorry to hear it too. It seemed like every kid who had ever called me a freak had been proved right, every "What's wrong with you?" now had an answer. But you know what? It's better to know and understand, at least, why you suffer- with medications I've been able to get better. Not totally, but I can function. And I know someday the meds will stop working, and people will always be a bit scared of me, but I don't care because I'm HERE and I live in the same reality as other people and we can share experiences, if not get along. I get a lot of crap from friends and family for being too open. I tell people up front, even if I only know them a little. They say it closes me off to possible relationships, and it makes other people uncomfortable. So what? It's uncomfortable for me too. We have to discuss it eventually; best to get it over with before too much emotion gets involved. There's less disappointment in the long run.
—Guest Lottie

Bipolar Disorder Stigma

To all those out there that have sufferred or are still sufferring from the bipolar disorder stigma, my heart truly goes out to you all. I am 27 years old and was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year. The doctors are still trying to get my meds straigtened out, and in the meantime I am suffering tremendously. I have a support system that consists of only one dear friend whom I thank God for everyday. My father tries his best to understand what I go through everyday when I talk to him, but other than that no one in my family ever acknowledges my illness or my severe emotional pain. I feel so completely alone most of the time despite the fact that I'm often surrounded by family. No one ever wants to hear how I'm feeling or see me cry. It seems to make them so uncomfortable when I try to express myself to any of them. This has ultimately made my condition worse and my self esteem lower than ever. Why are people so afraid to acknowledge that mental illnesses exists?
—Guest Daniella

Barbara A

I experienced psychosis and major depression in my teens. Fortunately, the psychotic episodes stopped at age 19, but the depression did not. At the age of 15 I was told by my high school principal that I would would be hospitalized in a mental hospital within 6 months and would likely remain there for life if immediate psychiatric help were not sought. At the time, I was already hallucinating and had experienced two major depressive episodes. Students at my school bullied me mercilessly. A group of them got together and decided to make a laughing stock out of me by proceeding to load my whole lunch with hot stinging pepper. Everyone in the cafeteria poked fun at me as I took several bites out of my sandwich. I was mortified. I decided to hide the reality of the hallucinations as much as I could and fought to stay out of a hospital. I am 66 years old and have managed to do just that. For more information on how I have managed my situation, refer to www.depressiontorecovery.com
—BarbaraAltman

The stigma in my life!

I've been suffering from schizophrenia since I was 13. I have been going through discrimination all my life. I am now 26. People on Facebook don't want to know me and my friends on Facebook too avoid me. Only when I communicate with them will they communicate with me. My family treats me in an okay manner but sometimes avoid communicating with me or when something interesting is going on like the Olympics or a drama they won't talk to me and will close me off. And I have to deal with a toxic person in my life who is my sister and who has no love for me. Believe it or not she's a nurse in the ICU. My family has never gotten professional help so i can't blame them. I also notice some people like to laugh at me at social gatherings without even knowing me. No one talks to me at social gatherings. I am an artist and direct salesman and I can even afford a Lamborghini one day. My point is you can be a millionaire but you can also be one of the loneliest people in the world!
—Guest cliff115

Why?

I was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder in 2002. Leading up to that point I had quit jobs, experimented with drugs, alcohol, and sex during manic episodes. I got myself into situations that were brought on by spontaneous decisions like getting married and having children. It seemed like my life was one dangerous but fun rollercoaster ride. In 2006 I was diagnosed Bipolar type 1. I have had one hospitalization and several episodes since. My family chose to ignore my illness until this year when my husband finally told my mom the truth about the life and experiences. Now it seems my mom treats me with kids' gloves but she is my only support besides my husband and bff who also has Bipolar. My dad refuses to recognize my illness and instead tells me I don't need a pill to deal with life. He just doesn't understand that life to someone with Bipolar is different then someone who is "normal". I get angry at God becuz I feel like one big mess.
—Guest Redsox2010

Sometimes I hate being me

This morning, I was told, again, that if I pray, God will heal my bipolar disorder! This infuriates me! Or, "I get real depressed, happy, irritated, etc, too. Everyone has problems." I will not negate that fact. How many "normals" cry in the supermarket because they cannot locate an item? How many "normals" feel suicidal once or twice a week? How many normals are told they are weak willed and that is why they have heart problems, diabetes, knee problems, etc?!? I am a bipolar single parent of a bipolar teenager, it is exceedingly difficult. He wants to self medicate with pot, though he has a very high IQ, he uses it to build bongs. His grades are terrible, though he tests 3rd overall in his school on standardized tests. Hi father is deceased, I feel utterly alone. My support system has failed miserably. My sister, who knows 'everything about being a good parent' took him for two months, saw the same problems I had mentioned and threw him out.
—Guest EliElio

Yes- The stigmatisation does stop you

At school, my Bipolar coming actually helped me, it made me strive towards achieving my goals. I received As and A*s in my Gcses as I told myself I had to go up in society and have a great life. Not mental, right? At college, my psychosis made me very good at analysing language and my work was excellent, when I was manic I could do tons of work. But a friend encouraged me to see someone about having Bipolar, and now the medication dulls my senses, friends don't want to know me, my old school friends know and jobs such as social care I cannot get into. My psychologist is encouraging me to get into the mental health system and I am now on Incapacity Benefit. I wish I'd never been diagnosed but there is a Leonardo de Vinci website about Bipolar, lots of celebs 'have it' and the site describes the creative genious behind Bipolar. We will always be discriminated against but the symptom of Bipolar is everything is heightened and more intense. Surely that's a plus!!
—Guest fran

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