Stigma

There’s stigma no matter where you go. Stigma about anything and everything. But especially about mental illnesses.

A couple years ago I was diagnosed with a mental illness and I opened up about it in church. Four months ago that diagnosis changed. I didn’t open up about it until this past Sunday. I didn’t want to say anything about it when there were other college students around because I didn’t know how they would react. I didn’t know what they would say, or what kind of internal judgements that would pass about me.

I waited specifically until it was just me and my teachers. Because I didn’t feel as though they would judge me for it. And they didn’t. They thanked me for being honest. I was able to teach them something about my illness – the different kinds of bipolar disorder. It felt good. I told them about Stigma Fighters. I felt safe talking about it with them. They love me no matter what.

That’s the kind of environment I yearn for when it comes to talking about mental illness. I don’t want to be forced to be in an environment where people, or possibly even everyone, will judge me if I say that I have bipolar disorder type 2. I’m terrified of the things that will be said, and still thought. I don’t want to face that. So I’m hesitant to speak up in public about it.

Somehow speaking online is different. More people can see it, and they can anonymously comment and say horrible things. But I don’t have to let them see me react to them. So it’s easier. I’m more comfortable seeing the comments online because I can close the computer and walk away. They don’t have to be there staring me in the face.

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