We have all seen the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, and Kat’s memorable speech to Heath Ledger at the end of the movie. Familiar? While reading this post, think about Stigma as if it is a person. Stigma has influenced many in society to make negative assumptions about mental health conditions. Stigma is like a bully.
1o things I hate about stigma…
1. I hate the way you think every emotional reaction is a symptom of my “illness!”
I will never forget when a young guy emailed me with concern for his girlfriends mental health. “She freaked on me! Yelled, scream and threw me out! I texted her that I think her Bipolar is out of control and she should seek help!” My first question, “Well what did you do?” His response, “I hooked up with her roommate but…”
Just because a person has a diagnosis, or is in a bad spot mentally, does not mean that every emotional reaction is due to their condition. We are all human, and react in hostile ways when confronted with harmful words or actions by others.
2. I hate the way you assume I am violent or out of control.
People with a mental illness are more likely to be the victim of violent acts, than the perpetrator. Don’t let the media fool you! Most likely we are violent towards ourselves, not you.
3. I hate the way you feel about me professionally.
Jobs and mental health. Yikes! A mental health condition does not make a person incapable of succeeding. In my experience in the mental health community, most of the people I have met with a mental disorder are extremely successful. We are capable of more than you think.
4. I hate the way you think I am suppose to physically appear grimy.
To assume I have no fashion sense is rude! Sure I have my no make up, sweatpants, cheesy bread and greasy hair days…but doesn’t everyone? Yes, I do care about my physical appearance so please refrain from statements such as, “Oh my Gah I would have never assumed you had bipolar! You dress cute, and are really well made up!”
5. I hate the way you make negative assumptions about my condition.
When I revealed my diagnosis, I heard statements like, “I don’t think you got that, your just so positive!” As if having a mental condition means I am suppose to be negative and doing nothing with my life. A lot of people I have met with mental conditions are upbeat. If we are in a dark place, you usually don’t see us or hear from us.
6. I hate your lack of compassion.
It is not a “mental health problem,” its a “people problem.” In modern day society, people are less compassionate. Okay so you don’t think mental illness is a real condition, but what happened to simply helping someone in need. A person who is struggling despite your biased attitude.
7. I hate the way you think I am not capable of succeeding.
There are tons of people with mental health condition that succeed as parents, students and/or professionals. Our ability to reach a deeper level of emotion makes us more capable of success in a lot of areas.
8. I hate the way you make me feel like an outcast.
You are weird!–No you are just boring! Making someone feel different in a negative way is unacceptable. The ‘you can’t sit here’ attitude is a character flaw on your end regardless of someones condition.
9. I hate the way you are so judgmental.
You don’t know my story. You don’t know my struggle. The truth is most people really don’t understand mental health. Do not judge my condition before taking the time to observe my character.
10. I hate the way you think my mental health defines me.
Yes it is a part of me, and is something I deal with on a day to day basis, but it does not define who I am. We are defined by what we create in this world, who we love and how we do it, not by a disorder or disease.