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What Causes Our Self-Stigma About Menta Illness? How Do We Fight It?

Recognizing self-stigma related to mental illness is crucial. In the world of mental health activism, the word “stigma” is particularly common. People frequently discuss the negative effects of stigma. Self-stigma, however, receives somewhat less attention.

I’m not sure if it is because activists who may or may not have a mental illness are talking to other advocates about self-stigma, or if it is simply because people don’t like to admit to perceived weakness, but self-stigma is real, destructive, and something we need to talk about.

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Hence, when individuals discuss the stigma of mental illness, what they really mean is the idea that having a mental disease is somehow shameful. Of all, this is simply a notion; neither is it true that people with bipolar disorder are brilliant.

Nonetheless, stigma towards mental illness is rather pervasive in Western culture. The past, when persons with mental diseases were sequestered and housed in mad asylums, is largely responsible for most of this.

It is yet another illustration of “othering.” It’s a “we versus. them” attitude. Humans categorise stimuli in their surroundings by nature, therefore it makes sense that unique people (such those who suffer from mental diseases) would belong in their own group, or the “others.” Then we perceive that group as a threat and “them” since we have a tendency to be afraid of what we don’t comprehend. (This contributes to the “othering” of individuals with other differences as well.)

Last but not least, mental diseases are just that—illnesses. So, it makes sense that people would want to avoid being around sick people lest they contract a disease themselves. Yeah, it is true that mental disease is not at all communicable, but this is the reptilian brain we’re dealing with. Even against logic, it is protecting us.

Mental Health Connection between Stigma and Self-Stigma

Like everyone else, people with mental illnesses are subjected to messages of stigma in the same society in which they live. As a result, when the general public fears someone with schizophrenia as a result of awful media messaging, for instance, the person with schizophrenia receives the same messages and experiences the same emotions. 

It’s true that a person with schizophrenia should be aware that the messages are erroneous, but when a lie is repeated often enough, it really begins to seem true. Self-stigma occurs when a person starts to feel fearful about themselves as a result of a medical condition.

Consider one more instance. Bipolar disorder patients are frequently portrayed as dangerous individuals with unpredictable conduct. In partnerships, we are viewed as harmful. And while those without bipolar disorder frequently hear this message and accept it because they don’t know any better, some individuals with bipolar disorder may also internalise it. Likewise, if you are told repeatedly that you are toxic because of a disease, you can come to believe it. This is self-stigma once more.

Mental Health Self-Stigma Is Pernicious and Common

Self-stigma related to mental illness has affected me. Although it wasn’t as obvious as the examples above, I have undoubtedly felt inferior as a result of my bipolar disease. Notwithstanding how unjustified the “disgrace” of having a mental illness may be, I have experienced it. And that’s me, the researcher and advocate for mental health

I am the only person in the world who can tell you the truth about mental illness, including the fact that it is a brain disease and not at all the victim’s fault, that it is not inherently harmful, and that people who have it can have fulfilling relationships. I am an expert in mental illness, but despite this, I still experience self-stigma.

Combating Self-Stigma Related to Mental Illness

Self-stigma, as I’ve said, is real, common, and healthy. It can be challenging to deal with in all of its forms. Having stated that it’s worthwhile to fight to regain your sense of value.

Try this to combat the self-stigmatization of mental illness:

Check inward for signs of self-stigma

Watch out for negative assumptions about mental illness. Take note of any beliefs that feel true to you despite being untrue. Identify the ways that your mental illness makes you feel horrible about yourself. Such examples are “I’m unlovable because of my mental disease,” “I can’t make friends because of my mental illness,” “I can’t keep a job because of having a mental illness,” and so forth.

Your self-stigmatization of mental illness

These ideas are frequently exposed to be untrue when they are put in writing and seen in black and white.

For each, create a response in writing

To counter the narrative of each self-stigmatizing statement, write down something you can say to yourself. “I am a lovable human being,” for instance. “My natural loveability is unaffected by mental illness,” “I have trouble making friends, but I can.” I have trouble retaining a job because I’m unwell, but I know with the appropriate employment and the correct accommodations, I can be a terrific employee, and so on. 

My mental illness doesn’t make me a poor friend. Recognizing how mental illness affects you while making it obvious that it does not completely define you is what it is all about—it is not about acting false or making generalizations.

When things are going well, practise saying your counterthoughts to yourself. Your counterarguments may initially be difficult for you to accept. When you’re in a position where you can begin to believe them, practise saying them to yourself. Just going through the motions won’t do. I’ll list a few resources and think about nearby spravato treatment in a bit.

When things are going well, practise saying your counterthoughts to yourself. Your counterarguments may initially be difficult for you to accept. When you’re in a position where you can begin to believe them, practise saying them to yourself.

Every time you have a self-stigmatizing idea, say out loud your counterthoughts. The challenging aspect is this. When self-stigma appears, you must have your counterthoughts ready. But it’s at that point that it’s most difficult to recall your counterarguments. That is why training is important. To be more effective, you might want to carry a written list of your counterarguments.

Wherever you perceive stigma, confront it. When someone makes a discriminating remark in front of you, respond if you feel comfortable doing so. Consider it your method of educating other people. It’s possible that they are merely ignorant.

Finally, be kind to yourself when you stumble a little. Overcoming the stigma associated with mental illness can be challenging, and you won’t always be successful. That’s alright. In the future, you’ll have another opportunity.

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