On stigma…

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What is stigma?  Well, stigma is defined by Dictionary.com as a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.  One often hears this word used when referring to a mind disorder or mental illness.  Although it is getting better, society traditionally has not been kind to those who have mind disorders, labeling them as “crazy.”  They are often portrayed in movies as villains.  The media is very quick to share the stories of those with mind disorders who commit crimes, however, someone with a mental illness is much more likely to be the victim rather than the perpitrator of a crime. 

However, this idea that a mind disorder should be “a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation”  is entirely wrong, and it is up to each of us to do our part to change this.  Some of the smartest, most influential people in the history of the world have had mind disorders, including such greats as Lincoln and Churchill.  A mind disorder can add abilities to one’s life, such as sensitivity, empathy, and creativity, just to name a few. 

So, how do we change stigma?  One of the most important ways is by speaking out and making your voice heard.  This website is an attempt to erradicate stigma.  It was a hard decision for me to decide to “come out” about being Bipolar.  However, I did it for the sake of others that have this disAbility.  I am trying to live my life as a role model to others with mind disorders, and also to prove to the general public that a mind disorder does not have to affect one’s entire life.  People with these disorders can work, live independently, have deep, caring relationships, and live very vibrant lives.  With the proper treatment, I have been able to do all of these things.  Bipolar has opened me up to a career path that I never would have considered before, and given me the proper empathy to do my job with all of my heart.  And, contrary to what most people may think, the people that love you will love you regardless of diagnosis, regardless of the labels that society may put on you.  So, let’s end mental illness stigma once and for all.  Speak out and be heard!
Be Well

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