When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker but as survivors. Survivors who dont get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand. I hope to one day see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle, and as a celebration of the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like. Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
People assume you arent sick
unless they see the sickness on your skin
like scars forming a map of all the ways youre hurting.
My heart is a prison of Have you
Yes, I have tried. Yes, I am still
Sometimes monsters are invisible,
Telling me there is no problem
This is not how miracles are born.
Emm Roy, The First Step
Attitude Is Everything
We live in a culture that is blind to betrayal and intolerant of emotional pain. In New Age crowds here on the West Coast, where your attitude is considered the sole determinant of the impact an event has on you, it gets even worse.In these New Thought circles, no matter what happens to you, it is assumed that you have created your own reality. Not only have you chosen the event, no matter how horrible, for your personal growth. You also chose how you interpret what happenedas if there are no interpersonal facts, only interpretations.
The upshot of this perspective is that your suffering would vanish if only you adopted a more evolved perspective and stopped feeling aggrieved. I was often kindly reminded (and believed it myself), there are no victims. How can you be a victim when you are responsible for your circumstances?
When you most need validation and
support to get through the worst pain of your life, to be
confronted with the well-meaning, but quasi-religious fervor
of these insidious half-truths can be deeply demoralizing.
This kind of advice feeds guilt and shame, inhibits
grieving, encourages grandiosity and can drive you to be
alone to shield your vulnerability. - Sandra Lee
We are never more fully alive,
more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in
anything, than when we are at play. Charles E.
Calling it lunacy makes it
easier to explain away the things we don't understand.
- Megan Chance, The Spiritualist
You see, people in the
depressive position are often stigmatised as failures'
or losers'. Of course, nothing could be further from
the truth. If these people are in the depressive position,
it is most probably because they have tried too hard or
taken on too much, so hard and so much that they have made
themselves ill with depression'. In other words, if
these people are in the depressive position, it is because
their world was simply not good enough for them. They wanted
more, they wanted better, and they wanted different, not
just for themselves, but for all those around them. So if
they are failures or losers, this is only because they set
the bar far too high. They could have swept everything under
the carpet and pretended, as many people do, that all is for
the best in the best of possible worlds. But unlike many
people, they had the honesty and the strength to admit that
something was amiss, that something was not quite right. So
rather than being failures or losers, they are just the
opposite: they are ambitious, they are truthful, and they
are courageous. And that is precisely why they got
ill'. To make them believe that they are suffering
from some chemical imbalance in the brain and that their
recovery depends solely or even mostly on popping pills is
to do them a great disfavour: it is to deny them the
precious opportunity not only to identify and address
important life problems, but also to develop a deeper and
more refined appreciation of themselves and of the world
around themand therefore to deny them the opportunity
to fulfil their highest potential as human beings. -
Bad enough to be ill, but to
feel compelled to deny the very thing that, in its worst and
most active state, defines you is agony indeed. -
Sally Brampton, Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of
We are not easy to help. Nor are we easy to be around. Nobody with a serious illness is easy to be around. Although not obviously physically disabled, we struggle to get things done. Our energy levels are dangerously low. Sometimes, we find it hard to talk. We get angry and frustrated. We fall into despair. We cry, for no apparent reason. Sometimes we find it difficult to eat, or to sleep. Often, we have to go to bed in the afternoon or all day.
So do most people with a serious
illness. We are no different. - Sally Brampton, Shoot
the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression
The stigmatized individual is
asked to act so as to imply neither that his burden is heavy
nor that bearing it has made him different from us; at the
same time he must keep himself at that remove from us which
assures our painlessly being able to confirm this belief
about him. Put differently, he is advised to reciprocate
naturally with an acceptance of himself and us, an
acceptance of him that we have not quite extended to him in
the first place. A PHANTOM ACCEPTANCE is thus allowed to
provide the base for a PHANTOM NORMALCY. - Erving
Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled
Mental illness" is among the
most stigmatized of categories.' People are ashamed of being
mentally ill. They fear disclosing their condition to their
friends and confidants-and certainly to their
employers. - Elyn R. Saks, Refusing Care: Forced
Treatment and the Rights of the Mentally Ill
One century's saint is the next
century's heretic ... and one century's heretic is the next
century's saint. It is as well to think long and calmly
before affixing either name to any man. - Ellis
Peters, The Heretic's Apprentice
...the issue becomes not whether
a person has experience with a stigma of his own, because he
has, but rather how many varieties he has had his own
experience with. - Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on
the Management of Spoiled Identity
Like a lot of people with mental illness, I spend a lot of time fronting. Its really important to me to not appear crazy, to fit in, to seem normal, to do the things normal people do, to blend in.
As a defense mechanism, fronting makes a lot of sense, and you hone that mechanism after years of being crazy. Fronting is what allows you to hold down a job and maintain relationships with people, its the thing that sometimes keeps you from falling apart. Its the thing that allows you to have a burst of tears in the shower or behind the front seat of your car and then coolly collect yourself and stroll into a social engagement
We are rewarded for hiding ourselves. We become the poster children for productive mentally ill people, because we are so organized and together. The fact that we can function, at great cost to ourselves, is used to beat up the people who cannot function.
Because unlike the people who cannot
front, or who fronted too hard and fell off the cliff, we
are able to keep it together, whatever it
takes. - S. E. Smith
I have never seen battles quite
as terrifyingly beautiful as the ones I fight when my mind
splinters and races, to swallow me into my own madness,
again. - Nicole Lyons, Hush
Here I want to stress that
perception of losing ones mind is based on culturally
derived and socially ingrained stereotypes as to the
significance of symptoms such as hearing voices, losing
temporal and spatial orientation, and sensing that one is
being followed, and that many of the most spectacular and
convincing of these symptoms in some instances
psychiatrically signify merely a temporary emotional upset
in a stressful situation, however terrifying to the person
at the time. Similarly, the anxiety consequent upon this
perception of oneself, and the strategies devised to reduce
this anxiety, are not a product of abnormal psychology, but
would be exhibited by any person socialized into our culture
who came to conceive of himself as someone losing his
mind. - Erving Goffman, Asylums: Essays on the Social
Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates
Being stigmatied by sex is being
marked by its meaning in a human life of loneliness and
imperfection, where some pain is indelible. - Andrea
Success and failure can both
make you lose appetite and concentration, don't let it
bother or over-excite you, just think them away as a mere
thing that had just happened, and get along with your
life. - Michael Bassey Johnson
In reviewing his own moral
career, the stigmatized individual may single out and
retrospectively elaborate experiences which serve for him to
account for his coming to the beliefs and practices that he
now has regarding his own kind and normals. - Erving
Of course, I should have known the kids would pop out in the atmosphere of Roberta's office. That's what they do when Alice is under stress. They see a gap in the space-time continuum and slip through like beams of light through a prism changing form and direction. We had got into the habit in recent weeks of starting our sessions with that marble and stick game called Ker-Plunk, which Billy liked. There were times when I caught myself entering the office with a teddy that Samuel had taken from the toy cupboard outside.
Roberta told me that on a couple of occasions I had shot her with the plastic gun and once, as Samuel, I had climbed down from the high-tech chairs, rolled into a ball in the corner and just cried.
'This is embarrassing,' I admitted.
'It doesn't have to be.'
'It doesn't have to be, but it is,' I said.
The thing is. I never knew when the 'others' were going to come out. I only discovered that one had been out when I lost time or found myself in the midst of some wacky occupation finger-painting like a five-year-old, cutting my arms, wandering from shops with unwanted, unpaid-for clutter.
In her reserved way, Roberta described the kids as an elaborate defence mechanism. As a child, I had blocked out my memories in order not to dwell on anything painful or uncertain. Even as a teenager, I had allowed the bizarre and terrifying to seem normal because the alternative would have upset the fiction of my loving little nuclear family.
I made a mental note to look up
defence mechanisms, something we had touched on in
psychology. - Alice Jamieson, Today I'm Alice: Nine
Personalities, One Tortured Mind
We have a genuine and
devastating epidemic of opiate abuse in this country, and it
is of critical importance that this problem be addressed.
But we must do so in a way that doesnt cut off an
effective (and often the only) treatment for the chronically
ill, many of whom are able to function in this world at all
only because of the small respite that responsible opiate
use provides. - Michael Bihovsky
the media coverage of the
opiate epidemic as driven by pill
pushing-doctors and by pain patients worries me a lot, and I
think it is already being used to forward the idea that
people in chronic pain should not have access to relief from
their pain. - Anita Gupta
Sometimes, this disapproval of how you are managing your pain crosses over to disbelief that you are in as much pain as you say you are. They dont believe that your pain is a legitimate enough reason to rest or nap or cry or take narcotic medications or not go to work or to go to the doctor. They might think that you are making too big of a deal out of it. They doubt the legitimacy of the pain itself.
This kind of stigma is the source of
the dreaded accusation that chronic pain is all in
your head. Its as if to say that you are making
a mountain out of a molehill. - Murray J.
The stigma of chronic pain is
one of the most difficult aspects of living with chronic
pain. If you have chronic pain, people can sometimes judge
you for it. - Murray J. McAlister
The stigma of mental illness is
first and foremost a social justice issue! - Patrick
W. Corrigan, Challenging the Stigma of Mental Illness:
Lessons for Therapists and Advocates
What mental health needs is more
sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about
illnesses that affect not only individuals, but their
families as well. - Glenn Close
Imagine youre diagnosed with epilepsy: what would you think if you werent referred to a specialist but taken to a psychiatrist to treat you for your false illness beliefs?
This is what happens to Myalgic
Encephalomyelitis (ME) patients in the UK. They are told to
ignore their symptoms, view themselves as healthy, and
increase their exercise. The NHS guidelines amalgamate ME
and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, assuming symptoms are caused
by deconditioning and exercise phobia. Sufferers
are offered Graded Exercise to increase fitness, and
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to rid them of their
false illness beliefs. - Tanya Marlow
With a strange logic, [Rod Liddle] asserts that because ME patients deny that they have a psychiatric disorder, this proves they have a psychiatric disorder.
Meanwhile, people are quietly dying of
ME. ME sufferer Emily Collingridge died, aged 30; Victoria
Webster died at just 18. People dont die from
exercise phobia. ME is not lethargy
and aches and pains, as Liddle claims. Severe ME
is lying in a darkened room, alone, in agonising pain,
tube-fed, catheterised, too weak to move or speak. -
M.E. isn't just 'exercise
phobia': it is a physical illness. - Tanya Marlow
self-stigma is not a person's fault; nor is it a part of the person's illness!
If the public did not hold negative and stigmatizing attitudes in the first place, these would never have become internalized, causing people the painful and disabling experience of self-stigma. - Patrick W. Corrigan, Challenging the Stigma of Mental Illness: Lessons for Therapists and Advocates
cALL 800-273-8255 or
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