Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Stigma

I've been really impressed by the Rethink campaign highlighting the stigma of mental illness and calling for change.
It's made me think a lot about stigma, and I definitely listen to peoples views on madness and mental illness more closely. My basic conclusion is that the campaign is well overdue, but I think it's a huge undertaking.
Recently I've heard friends, sometimes very close friends using the words 'mad' and 'mental' to describe people, I sit there tense and wonder what they think of me. Did they gather when I was sectioned and use those words to describe me? because I am not mad and I am not mental, I suffer from a mental illness and that's a very different way of describing things.
I do feel the stigma surrounding my illness, when I've been in hospital only those closest to me know, everyone else thinks I've just 'gone away' for a couple of weeks/months. I'm terrified of putting my diagnosis down on paper, such as application forms for jobs or other paperwork and I tend to avoid stories and anecdotes about people with mental illness. I worry about the time when I start a family, I know that because of my history all the professionals will know about my diagnosis and a pre birth conference will take place to assess my needs as a parent with mental illness. I'm considering going back to work at the moment after 7 months off but am terrified about disclosing to potential employers.
I should confront people more with their opinions on mental illness, perhaps fly the flag a bit more but it's difficult. I already have the routine of trying to hide my self harm scars and explaining why I can't socialise in the ways I perhaps did in the past.
It's not just wider society that stigmatises, it's rampant in the medical world too. Once I was admitted to A & E with severe abdominal pains and vomiting, I was given an enti-emetic which gave me terrible allergic reaction. The first reaction of the nurses was to call the shrink as they thought it was some sort of 'mental episode', it took 90 minutes for someone to realise and give me the antidote. I've also read posts by medical bloggers describing psych patients, one found a persons manic episode 'amusing'.
So, in conclusion, I salute the Rethink campaign but we've a mountain to climb.

4 comments:

  1. Bollocks to flying the flag. If you're uncomfortable doing so, then don't. You don't have to try and the change the world. Do what makes you feel best.

    Personally, I like being "mental" and "mad". It amuses me and it less devastating to me than being the manic depressive.

    And hello, found you via Mental Nurse. I'm in London too. x

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  2. Do what works for you and nevermind the rest. It's you that you have to take care of. That in itself becomes a flag of its own.

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  3. Sometimes I think stigma in the medical profession is worst of all. At least, that's been my experience.

    Just found your blog, looking forward to reading.

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  4. I've just come across this website and your blog and It's made me want to join. Reading everything that you have written Is making sense to me. I've just come back from my local doctors and I've tried my hardest to explain what's going on In my head, and I literally got a booklet and she sent me on my way, with no bother on whether I'd come back or not nor any help. I was just wondering really, If anyone or yourself could read this and maybe help me out. It's driving me mad, and I just need something to control It all. My mood swings are just uncontrollable, One moment I'm completely In a rut, can't eat, can't sleep due to the vivid nightmares I get most nights. I Can't stop the tears, I can't even do every day things such as go out and do the house work. I went out the other day for a meal with my partner and my family and I couldn't eat nor spark up a conversation I just burst into tears and just wanted to go home and stay there.
    My head feels as though It is about to explode, It overwhelms me and Can't control when I'm up or down. Next, I could come over with rage where I just want to lock myself In a seperate room and be alone. I don't get violent or aggressive. I just need to be alone, It gets so much for my head to handle I end up fidgeting to try and take my mind off of everything. Then, I could suddenly (and I'm talking either days or minutes later) change, I have this amazing burst and I'm just completely happy, hyperactive I guess is the closest word. Where I think, how could I even be thinking on ending my life. There was a time where I was In the car, Window down, could feel the crisp cool air on my face, the sun was setting. Never felt happier.
    Another time during This mood I get so much of a 'rush' and 'all go' I try and race myself so to speak, such as when I'm reading or any other activities. my head races against my heart beat. I can never sleep I have to pretty much pace around and think of things I can do.
    Paranoia Is just awful, I've never seen myself so nervous. family/Friends have even noticed this. The other day I saw a man crossing the road, I was In the car and I felt as though my heart was about to stop he was pulling along side his suitcase to me he looked shifty and he then looked like he placed down his suitcase and was about to walk off. I was In a state, telling my partner at the time who was driving, To just DRIVE. All the man was doing was crossing the road with his suitcase and casually walking along. That's just one example. My nightmares are incredibly vivid I wake up thinking they've happened and each and every single one is Where I some how or another get hurt. So there's a bried Insider, Just wondering If you have any advise.
    I mean, I've emailed so many specialists just tonight with no reply yet. No one can really seem to help me. So I'm hoping this could be just my luck.
    Thank you :)

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