By Elga Theresia
All of us have perceptions on seeing things. However, our perceptions are not always consistent with the reality. Finding characteristics distinguishing people from other member of society who we regard as ‘normal’, we often stigmatize them. Stigma is a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something. One of the stigmatized groups is the people with bipolar. The society considers that they are crazy, dangerous, psychos and they should be avoided. Stigma is highly unfair. It is similar with locking them in an invisible ‘dungeon’, instead of offering help. Many of them are discriminated. Stigma can affect lethally on the people who have bipolar as they become afraid to seek for help. They are concerned about being labeled and rejected if anyone finds out. This situation may trigger unnecessary suicides. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2020 mental illness will be the second leading cause of death and disability. If we ignore this arising issue, the nightmare will come true.
We have to prevent this and change the future right now. The stigma deterring bipolar people to get help has to be erased. Stigma is incited by the lack of understanding about bipolar. Media is responsible for many of the misconceptions about people with mental illnesses. It often stresses a history of mental illness in the backgrounds of people who commit crimes of violence. Real facts are needed to dismiss the misconceptions. Categorized as mood disorder, bipolar disorder is typically defined by alternating episodes of mania and depression. Nothing says that people with bipolar will certainly be murderers. It simply says that their moods are unstable. With proper treatment, they can enjoy controlled life and do daily activities well.
We are able to support them by opening our minds and not offending them. Remember, they are humans too. Only, their brains are disturbed. The bipolar people should be courageous to speak out their struggle against the illness. Therefore, the hurtful judgment can be reduced then eventually vanished. We might also write a letter to fight stigma and inform numerous of newspaper readers, radio listeners, policy makers or a business we feel is discriminatory. Any time we see stigma, writing a letter can help to educate. There are numbers of groups carrying out mission to stop stigma, such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). Joining such groups will allow us to be more involved in the battle against stigma. Fight the stigma with whatever you’re able to do. For instance, if you are a writer, use your pen to promote the anti-stigma movement. If you’re a movie director, give people real picture of bipolar. Our actions, big or small, will make a change for them.
Let’s remove the mist of stigma and reveal the beauty of life. There is more than just gloominess, there is also light. We should bring back the light blocked by the stigma to their lives.