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Stigma

That's Not a Real Diagnosis

“That’s not a real illness.” “I don’t believe in mental health.” “If you don’t need medication, you must not really have bipolar.” 

These are just a few of the long stream of comments from people in my life, the most recent being “You know, I don’t think you’re bipolar, I think you have cyclomania,” because having a Bachelor’s in psychology obviously means that you know more than the multiple psychologists and psychiatrists that have confirmed my diagnosis. 

Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

When I think of myself 10 years ago, I am embarrassed and quite frankly shocked at how judgmental I was towards others who were different than me.  

Ten years ago my mood fluctuations became unmanageable and anxiety and depression left me paralyzed. I resisted as long as I could, but my husband finally insisted I get professional help. 

CRAZY

“We’re never gonna survive, unless, we get a little crazy”

 Seal, “Crazy”

I used to love listening to Seal sing “Crazy” on my VW Jetta’s stereo while driving up and down San Francisco’s steep hills, a fitting backdrop for such a song. One must drive differently in San Francisco – it’s such a treacherous maze of streets, especially when driving a stick shift car like mine.  I was twenty-one years old at the time, a thrill seeker, and a bon vivant in the making.

Stigma from the Source

"Stigma = a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation"

I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder in October of 2007, six weeks after the birth of my second daughter.  I was thirty-seven-years-old when I admitted myself into a locked-down mental facility at our local hospital. While there, a psychiatrist met with me and within two minutes he informed me that I had bipolar disorder.

Everything changed.

Awareness through the Eyes of Van Gogh

We all know the importance of mental health awareness, and doing our part of erasing the stigma that still surrounds Disorders like Bipolar. As March 30th approaches which is World Bipolar Day, it’s also Van Gogh’s birthday who is a well known Dutch impressionist artist, how fitting that his birthday falls on the same day we acknowledge Bipolar. It’s known that he too had bipolar.

Who Can Have Mental Illness?

Ever wonder if mental illness affects some groups of people more than others? Why do I have Bipolar Disorder, and my friends do not? Did I do something to cause it to happen? Was there something I could have done to avoid it? Maybe it’s totally the fault of genetics.

Stigma Hurts!

Mental Health Stigma: My Story (Article 4 in the Stigma Series)

I get stigma on a very regular basis. This in turn severely limits, or even extinguishes, the support that I need. I’ve learned most people are not even aware when they’ve said something hurtful, damaging, or founded solely on falsehoods. People assume there is enough information in their own uneducated logic to form an accurate picture.

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