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Readers Respond: How Has Stigma Affected You?

Responses: 76


Updated June 29, 2014

"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

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


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

bipolar disorder management

I am 75, diagnosed as bipolar 25 years ago. I have become adept at anticipating mood changes and at using a variety of measures, medical and otherwise, to minimize the effects. Friends and family have encouraged me to share my experiences. I have used the 'buddy' system to alert me of impending changes. I now am effective at recognizing symptoms of change. I have become more focused with managing the mania because of the resultant depression.
—Guest katman

Depressed Outsider

I've been battling this DISEASE (it IS a disease contrary to popular belief) for what seems like forever, but was actually diagnosed 12 years ago and hospitalized twice. In my case they tell me that my depression & anxiety are genetic. Sadly, it really doesn't matter why you have it, the results are the same. 80% of the people that I've come in contact with just don't get it! They think you're either faking it or 'overly dramatic'! When I think about all I have lost because of this disease, it sickens me. My marriage, various jobs, trust of loved ones, self-confidence, the list goes on & on. And just when you think you're finally in a good place & maybe, just maybe you might be above water for awhile, it rears its ugly head again & you have to start all over! It's so unfair that some people think that you really 'enjoy' living this way..

Stigmatism is Forever!

Just talking to a therapist once is all it takes; After that you will bear the Stigma of being mentally Ill forever!
—Guest John

University Setting For Discrimination

I have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder since2005. I have went through cycles and reduced some symptoms with medication. However, I still become manic,, especially if there is a stressful situation. One such manic episode occured while an assignment was due. I was unable to sleep, and it soon became impossible to concentrate. My psychiatrist excused me from the assignment, however, my instructor took off points because according to her " I have never had this situation come up, and I don't know anything about Bipolar disorder". So, even though she is a seemingly good woman, her ignorance of this disorder made her act as all people ignorant of this order do: Discriminatory. That is why all people need to know that this REAL and have real sensitivity towards people who have Bipolar disorder.
—Guest Bill W.

Living with Stigma

I live with a sister who is bipolar and I have depression myself. We both feel as if we have to hide our conditions due to the feeling of being misunderstood by peers, friends, and family. Having my sister has really helped me through my own disorder. I would recommend joining a support group if you haven't already. It's nice to know that others experience the same stigmas and problems that you do. It's hard for me to hear what others say about my sister. A lot of people just don't understand what people with bipolar and depression go through and judge them automatically for how they act when they can't help it. I've found that the easiest way to get rid of a stigma is to educate others. People who don't experience what we do can't understand our circumstances. I think most are afraid because they don't understand and that is where we can come in. We can share experiences and fears with close friends and family and help them to understand the emotional problems that come with stigmas.
—Guest Absumchicka


My family don't regard me human. One of them said I shouldn't have kids or even buy a car because I'm irresponsible. They say it's drugs causing my illness, even though they know my late mom suffered from a mental illness. It's really a shame and hurting to see the mentally ill being locked up and mistreated. We need to put an end to this - we are also human.
—Guest Tebogo

The second doctors see "Bipolar" DONE

I have endometriosis. When I get a new doctor (from job changes or insurance changes) they initially are nice to me. The SECOND the full medical records come in that indicate bipolar the changes start. They are not as polite, they begin to speak to me in "short words" as if I haven't had my condition for twenty years, and they ignore and dismiss my questions. It happens semi-regularly. It isn't fair and it causes much more harm than good.

Don't tell

After being diagnosed, I told a close friend with (we were studying abroad) and communication... changed in a second. Besides close family and one friend I don't talk about it. Why tell people something they don't understand. I hear bipolars being stigmatized all the time in the media. I was asked on an employment application if I had any medical problems (in a foreign country). I simply lied. Why tell when it's an automatic rejection due to something they don't understand. My medication makes me feel totally normal (almost). I hate the pity and the misunderstanding. Might as well tell people I'm from Mars. After all I do have a resident alien card :P
—Guest Affected

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