I wrote yesterday about about how I still get stung by the stigma surrounding mental health issues. I still get stung by people who don’t understand about my darkness, and who think it is just laziness. I still struggle with knowing how best to handle my mental illness in professional settings. Yet I also sometimes wrongly project the stigma onto others, failing to give them the chance to overcome that stigma.
My default position is often to hide my darkness around new people. My social anxiety tells me that they will turn and run if they know the demons I carry with me. And the stigma of mental illness, the misunderstanding too many people have, I project all of that onto new people too, assuming they will react in the worst way to my mental illness. And in doing so I rob them of the chance to react positively and do their part to end the stigma.
And more than just denying them the opportunity to be accepting of me and my demons, I am denying myself the opportunity to find people who could be extremely supportive of me amid my battles.
There are so many insidious ways that stigma works its way into our behavior, both individually and as a society. It will take time and work to identify and reverse those trends. Hopefully, putting pen to paper and identifying the stigmas for all to see, as I am doing here, is a good first step. And as such, I am so appreciative of all of you being there to read it.
Until next time, be well.