". . . our stories are what make the difference, and if we can tell them honestly we can hope to help each other. In the end, we have nothing to offer each other but our stories." ~ Emma Lou Thayne

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fighting Stigma with Awareness

My blog is for me. It is my way of sharing my journey and trying to help in the fight against STIGMA.  I try not to make everything about my blog this, but I feel that it IS important to share the ups and downs. It is also for those that want to understand and be supportive of individuals dealing with these types of things. And it is for those that also deal with it and want to be able to relate to someone and not feel so alone. (I have found that in blogs that I have found. They are in my sidebar.)  

Those that can not be supportive, do not need to come here. I need support, not criticism. Others need real information, not more stigma or judgments. I tried to share my information with friends and family through my PERSONAL blog (private to family/close friends only) and facebook. There was never any response. Pretend you don't know and it will go away... ? This site is not for them. However, if they want to understand me better and offer support; they are welcome. 

Last week I had some individuals make some ignorant assumptions concerning me and bipolar. What they don't understand is that I actually DO handle things quite well and I fight this daily. If they actually FOLLOWED my blog or read back on the posts, they would see that. This is NOT a choice and people throwing ignorance and judgement in my direction are definite triggers for a downward spiral for me. I don't need that; neither does my husband or children still living at home. I need to be as functional as I can be for THEM. (Are you getting an idea of the effect stigma can have... why an individual would rather remain in denial and not seek the help that will help them function better? Because they are afraid of the reactions and isolation from the ones they love. I was in denial for quite some time. Little did I know that some ofthe meds prescribed for my "temporary" depression were ones used to treat bipolar. LOL! The doc was playing along and trying to treat at the same time... ;p (This was in CA) 

Would you tell someone having a heart attack to just decide they don't want to do that? Someone with Diabetes to just think positive and it will go away? Someone with Epilepsy to stop having seizures because it's inconvenient? Bipolar is not something someone CHOOSES and can just "think away". It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. To tell someone "I knew someone with bipolar and they ...." is not helpful. If you want to relate an experience, that is different than assuming that it is the same for everyone. It affects EVERYONE different. They all have to find the right combination of meds/therapy that will help them function the best possible. This also has to be adjusted at times to find what combination works best for YOU...  That in itself can be quite a roller-coaster. There is even stigma among some in the medical profession because their training is outdated and/or it is not something they studied in depth. So if you are not in the medical profession specializing in bipolar disorder, you should not be making assumptions and judgments concerning someone's condition. You certainly shouldn't attack or criticize an individual with a potentially fragile frame of mind. You don't know what it may trigger. 

This past week was extremely difficult for me. Feeling like there was no one to give me support and understanding (except for some awesome internet friends. THANK YOU!) How sad is that? To feel that you are judged by the ones you love... It is heart wrenching. I will not go into the details, but "get over yourself" advice is one of the worst things you can do. In essence you are telling the person (me) with mental illness they (I) don't matter to you. It's not your problem and you don't want it to touch your life. Feeling now like I'm being talked about behind my back, people avoiding me... You don't want to be bothered... even though I've tried to keep the effects of this disorder from affecting others as much as possible. When a hint of it rears it's head, those that should be supportive go on the defense and blow the whole thing further out of proportion rather than recognizing it for what it is and letting it go or offering understanding or support. There is enough suffering that goes with this disorder; when it comes from family or close friends, it is magnified ten fold. 
 
By blogging my experiences I am working to help the fight against stigma. This shouldn't be considered grounds for emotional abandonment from those that should be closest to me. It should be viewed as a window into my mind so you can further attempt to understand. That is my prayer. So if you are here to pass judgment, be inconsiderate, belittle, rationalize, show your ignorance, or spread more stigma... STOP! Don't come here! I am not here to debate this conditions validity, difficulties, or treatment. If you can't say something nice (supportive, understanding, uplifting, helpful, etc...), DON'T say anything at all. Go away in your ignorance, hate, hypocritical snobby way and keep your arrogance to yourself. For the sake of all those that KNOW what it REALLY IS! 

IF you have the desire to learn more about it, can have an open mind, and aren't just trying to prove your stigmatic point of view... PLEASE join us and learn that we have a LOT to OFFER, we have many dimensions (some of them aren't pretty), we are fragile but strong, we fight a daily battle, and we NEED love and support to help minimize our negative symptoms. There is enough haughty condemnation throughout the world. When people start to realize that these conditions are NO respecter of social status, religious beliefs, popularity, race, etc... This WILL be a better world. Those that need help will seek it, those who love the people in their circles will recognize their need and guide them to proper treatment with love and support. Without the stigma, there will be less episodes triggered by the condemnation and false assumptions of others. Help in the fight that will make life worth living! Make a difference to someone in YOUR LIFE!


I'm going to create an AWARENESS blog hop and award!  I will personally post with some great information to help educate my readers on bipolar disorder. Much of the information will come from Bring Change 2 Mind, a group diligently working to fight the stigma of mental illness that is perpetuated in the world of ignorance, assumptions and misunderstanding. For those that suffer, other people's ignorance is NOT bliss. I will also do some posts on other things promoting AWARENESS. I may have guest posts on occasion. I invite all who have a cause to fight for to join in! I will start this next Wednesday and it will be called "Wednesday Awareness". Let's spread some awareness among the Blogosphere!

9 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I think this is great, Holly, and I totally get it.

Summer Ross said...

"Knowledge is the true organ of sight, not the eyes." ~Panchatantra
Holly- this was a good post. hugs for you :)

Weezer said...

Holly, you pretty thing. I promise not to judge or ridicule, no negative thoughts or ideas. Not from me. I have a problem that I fight each and every day, that of being borderline(?) agoraphobic. I'm the 3rd in a 4-generation line. So sweetie, I understand. And I will listen. But I will not pity.
Hugs and blessings for a good day.
Weezer

Holly said...

Love you guys!!

Weezer: ((HUGS)) to you. We have no control over the genetics passed to us. Eh? If only it were like a buffet and we could take only what we wanted. ;D

Don't worry, I'm not looking for pity and I'm not one to use my condition as an excuse for bad behavior. I do know right from wrong and I have a conscience. Many things can be controlled for the most part.

What I can't control is the assumptions that others make. The talking behind my back where I can't even counter the falsehoods that are spread. Or the negative thoughts that race through my mind as a result of it. (There are some things I do to focus my mind elsewhere and am sometimes successful.)

I can help educate those that are willing to open their hearts and minds to the reality of mental challenges that are so prevalent in the world around us. The more people open their eyes, the better world we will live in... with a little less stigma.

I have lived most my time knowing about this in hiding. Letting it be known publicly has not been easy. But as I tried to hide it more and the condition worsened, I knew I needed to open up about it because hiding was making it worse. I am not seeking attention; I want to help others understand. I have found more support here (online) than within my own family and friends. There's something wrong with that. But hopefully they will learn more and start to recognize that it's real and I can't just "unthink it", "The opposite of faith is fear, just have FAITH" or "Think positive and it will go away". I honestly do wish it were that easy.

Shell said...

I'm so sorry that you are feeling that judgement, instead of getting support.

I think it's great that you are going to do a blog hop for this.

ruthhill74 said...

I was married to a bipolar/schizophrenic man for 10 years, and I would never make a judgment. He own't admit he has a problem--everyone else has the problem. No judgment coming from me at all, I promise. Blessings to you!

Holly said...

The blog hop/award will begin next Wednesday and it will be "Awareness Wednesday" It will be for everyone to link up their causes to spread awareness. I will do posts on other awareness subjects, as well; not just bipolar. There are so many good causes we should have a way of sharing them. I hope you'll all join in. I'm sure there are things you feel strongly about that you'd like to share with others to raise awareness. ;D

I'm hoping that my family members will choose to learn more and love me in spite of me. Ruth, I'm sorry your ex was in denial. A lot of people flat out reject the obvious; mostly because of the stigma attached to it. I believe that it's more important to take responsibility for the condition given you, get the treatment necessary, and make it as little of a burden as possible. Life is still good when the treatment gets in order!! And even just acknowledging and recognizing it for what it is can help in countering the effects on those around you. So I hope he comes to terms and gets the help he needs so he can live a more fulfilling life.

Weezer: You are a sweetheart!! I will get on that post SOON!!

((HUGS))

Paula said...

Holly, I can relate so much. Well, I am not bipolar, suffer from PTSD and major depression due to sexual abuse. Lots of stigma there too. Can relate to ignorant remarks which get me down pretty easy. On my art blog I have tried to paint stigma now and then. Has helped me a bit to deal with certain comments. Wishing you well. Great post and even better idea. Love from my heart to yours.

Holly said...

Thanks, Paula!! I wish you the best, too!! Hope you'll join me on Wednesdays!! ;D The more we talk about it, maybe things will start to improve... one post at a time ;D (((HUGS)))

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