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The stigma ends when we end it – Guest blog post

“The stigma ends when we end it” by @Lynoth

More than a tagline, this is my battle cry.  What does it mean, though?

To me, it’s an end to allowing the labels.  It’s not just about “them” though – we have to step up and accept the responsibility.  No more “just having a bipolar day”; no more pinning our bad decisions on our chemical shifts.  Not that the explanation shouldn’t be offered, but it cannot be a “free pass” for bad behavior.  In our home, the rule is that meds don’t “fix” anything; they only make it easier to make better choices.  We are always ultimately responsible for the actions we take or don’t take.

That’s only part of the battle though.  One of the major problems I see with the stigmatization of mental illness is that only the extremes get represented.  This, to me, is a self-perpetuating cycle; the worse the public view of “the mentally ill” is, the less likely “average” people who cope daily with their illness are to stand up and tell their story.  Which is a shame; because how is John Q. Public ever going to know we’re not all like that if we don’t put a face on it?

If we can do that, if we can stand up and say “I have bipolar, but that is not the sum of who I am,” then maybe we can start changing things.  Maybe we can get back the right to have normal human feelings, and bad days, and moments of sublime joy, without having to worry someone will label them symptoms.  Maybe we can even end a relationship or make a bad decision without being the “bad guy.”  Who knows, perhaps the day will even come when I can have a bad day without second-guessing myself!

“The stigma ends when we end it”

I'm Blogging for Mental Health May 18, 2011