Stigma is everywhere, which is why it’s important to have family and friends to rely on when the prejudice seems too much to bear.
But what happens when the most important people in our lives misunderstand bipolar and discriminate?
The truth is, it’s not uncommon.
Talking about how many insist that those with mental health challenges can control their feelings, Allan Schwartz, PhD, says, “. . . we think ourselves as good people who are non-judgmental. Yet, we do stigmatize certain types of people by avoiding, rejecting and even blaming them for being in their situation.”
Family members in particular can put more emphasis on symptoms—whether or not they exist at the time—than on asking questions and getting at the root of a decision or behavior they don’t agree with, notes Terry Dornak, Psy.D.
Dornak regularly sees the negative effects this causes in his clients with bipolar: “It makes them feel they’re only their illness rather than they’re just a human being with an illness.”
And what can happen as a result is that these reactions can keep someone from getting help when it’s needed the most.
A 2016 article in the scientific journal EMBO Reports states that, for the most part, “it is the unspectacular day‐to‐day work and contacts that help decrease stigma and discrimination” against people with mental health struggles.
That may or may not have the desired impact on those close to you, but regardless, stay the course. Success and stability happens when we continue to move forward—and don’t let stigma-related shame and guilt get in the way.
Keira, from North Carolina, found after confiding in friends about her bipolar II diagnosis, that her requests for help went unanswered because she was perceived as being “self-centered or trying to elicit sympathy.”
The diagnosis is not something her friends could easily relate to, she says, adding that she ultimately decided she had to turn for help outside her inner circle at times. “What I need for my mental health is so much more important than my ideal scenario.” Read more >>
It is entirely possible to have your ‘dream job’ even while having bipolar disorder. The key lies in establishing an effective wellness plan.
By Susie Johnson
Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a teacher. I loved babysitting and jumped at any chance to help or work with kids.
In high school I saw the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” with my favorite actor Robin Williams as a teacher. In one scene all the students stand on their desks as a way of honoring how he inspired them. I wanted to be just like Robin Williams. This is what teaching was all about or so I thought.
At the end of high school, I decided to major in elementary education. Then it hit me. For the first time, I experienced complete darkness, like being in a room with the lights out. I felt alone, scared, without hope as if all the joy had been sucked out of me. That was my first taste of depression. Read more >>
Ask questions, be honest and share your concerns to get the best possible care; consider these:
1. Know about your medication. Whenever you take a psychiatric medication, know what it is supposed to do. This means understanding the target symptoms it is intended to affect. How long is it suppose to take to feel the full effect? Will you have to try several different medications or a combination if you’re not feeling better? Ask what the intended definition of feeling better is i.e. without symptoms or lessening of symptoms. Read more >>
If people can’t love and accept you for who you are–bipolar disorder diagnosis and all–then they are not the kind of people you need in your life. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder my family was at a loss of what to do. No one in our immediate family has lived with any mental...
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June 6, 2019 • Volume 12, Issue 23Subscribe to Hope & Harmony Headlines What Friends and Family Should Know About Bipolar We can be really happy—or really irritable—without being manic. Sometimes we need space. And people who don’t have bipolar will never—no matter how hard they try—be able to fully understand what it’s...
The decision to disclose your diagnosis of bipolar disorder is very difficult. Here is everything you need to know before you go public. Coming out is hard to do, but it may be the best thing for you. I stayed “closeted” about my mental health condition for over ten years, but my bipolar and the...