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How to Get Rid of Bipolar Disorder Stigma: It Starts with You

Stigma is a primary contributor to the oppression and discrimination of those living with mental health challenges: but we can work together to overcome it.

Stigma stinks, and that is putting it mildly. There is just so much misinformation about Mental Health in the world that if I tried to count the number of times I’ve heard someone say something ignorant about it, I’d easily lose track.

This is really incredible when you get down to it. I mean, come on! One out of four (or five depending on your source) of us lives with a mental health condition: 20-25%.

In the U.S., approximately 3% of people live with Bipolar Disorder. That’s a lot of people, right? Literally millions across our country (and worldwide) are fighting every day to find some semblance of stability in their lives.

Which leads me back to the idea of stigma. It takes an average of ten years for a person to seek treatment when living with a mental health challenge. That’s an awful long time to be suffering on the inside. Much of this delay can be attributed to stigma. There is a common fear many of us have had about divulging our condition to others, whether it be family, friends, co-workers, or even the person next door.

I recall a situation at a former place of work where I believe I was the target of such misguided beliefs. I had chosen to publicly “come out” about my BP and as a result, I believe I was seen as a potential liability. I was subsequently written up for no credible reason.

This ended up being the catalyst for me to dive back in full-time to my previous work in the field of human services. In reality, it was probably one of the best things that ever could have happened. I choose not to believe that this was mere coincidence. I feel that I was being guided by my Higher Power to do the work that I was intended to do. It was my calling.

So many times, those of us living with bipolar disorder are cast as being “crazy,” “uncontrollable,” or “violent.” When we hear these terms directed towards us, it’s very easy to internalize these messages and buy-in to their meaning. This is what is known as self-stigma.

If you tell someone they are crazy long enough they will often eventually believe it. Our society has a way of communicating these demeaning messages, whether it be in the media or in the common discourse heard in communities.

Right now, at this very moment I’m listening to a song called “But You” by an artist named Dev Hynes who goes by the name Blood Orange. It is from his album entitled Freetown Sound. The chorus is quite apropos for this post:

“You are special in your own way.”

You know what? You are. You may be saying to yourself, “What the hell are you thinking? Don’t you know how much I’m hurting right now?” Well, guess what? I do.

It was the summer of 1983. Hot, hazy and humid. I was suffering from a major depressive episode so disabling that it was a Herculean feat just to get out of bed. I honestly don’t know how I made it through that time in my life, or the many others in the early days of my illness. But they made me who I am today. What I do know is that I got through each one of them.

That was a long time ago and I’ve learned a lot along the way. But one of the most important things I’ve learned, both personally and professionally, is that no matter how dark things can get, they can get better. I’ve seen this in the lives of so many people with whom I’ve had the good fortune to know along the way. And within each one of them there is an indestructible, resilient core.

So, if no one has told you that you matter lately, then I will.

Be well.

Learn more:
How to Combat Myths of Bipolar Disorder: A Survival Guide
Living With Bipolar: Recovery Starts With Hope

The post How to Get Rid of Bipolar Disorder Stigma: It Starts with You appeared first on bpHope.



This post first appeared on Mania Bipolar Disorder - Bphope, please read the originial post: here

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