Getting Rid of Mental Illness Stigma Starts With Me


I am tired of feeling ashamed of my mental illness.

I’ve read many blogs or articles from people who would like people to stop saying, “I am bipolar.” Instead, they would prefer to say, “I have bipolar.” It really doesn’t bother me one way or another. When it comes right down to it, bipolar disorderdepressionanxiety, they all are a part of who I am, and I hate that I feel ashamed about it.

I think in the past few years there have been some pretty big strides in removing some of the stigma of mental illness. Sometimes, it’s done through terrific websites like The Mighty or Project Semicolon. Sometimes, strides are made through the many private and public organizations, which are seeking out to specifically help people with mental illnesses. It can even be through people, whether they are celebrities or not, speaking out and using their platform to share their stories and call for action.

Yet, the stigma is still there in everyday life. Wherever there are people, there will be that stigma that makes us feel ashamed. In our workplaces, the gym, the coffee shop, at church, on the sidelines at our children’s game. However, all that stigma doesn’t just come from other people. It comes from within me, a person who has struggled for so many years. I let the depression and anxiety, the mania, the panic attacks, the voices tell me that because I struggle I am not good enough or acceptable. I hide what’s inside of me.

Sometimes, I don’t want to hide it though. I want to just stand up and say depression and anxiety are part of who I am. It is not that I want to have these struggles. I am tired of the struggle, but right now, it’s part of me.

Once in awhile, I have a fleeting thought of how I wish I could be part of the change to erase the stigma of mental illness in the world. Yet, I think I need to start with a small part in that fight: Me. I will not believe those many voices inside my head that tell me I am inferior because I fight every day. I will not stigmatize myself.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

Cookies Pillow, Satin iPhone Case , White Cat Shirt

How 'We Are Lions' Helps Artists With Mental Illnesses and Disabilities

Most people don’t know who designed their favorite t-shirt or the pattern on their most-used mug, but We Are Lions, an online store that showcases the work of artists with mental illnesses and disabilities, wants to change that. We Are Lions works with artists with disabilities and mental illnesses to produce functional pieces of art – from cellphone [...]
close-up of therapist holding patient hands

When My Therapist Is on Vacation or Unavailable

I have a confession. I’m terrified. I don’t know how to survive without my therapist. Despite the support groups and contacts that were given to me, I feel completely lost. I am so embarrassed by my need. I feel silly. I feel like she will hate me. Yet… I am completely reliant on her. I’ve [...]
A side view of a young woman with a mountain in the background

When I Need Someone to Rescue Me From My Inner Troll

Sometimes, it feels impossible to go on. So much responsibility. So much to do. I’m utterly exhausted. I take care of my children every day. I help them grow and be healthy. I schedule their appointments. I take them to the doctor, to the dentist and to therapy. When my kids are melting down, I [...]
Black and white portrait of a man with his head held in his hands.

When Giving and Receiving Gifts Bring You Nothing but Shame

Holidays of any kind are hard on people buried in shame. Holidays calling for an exchange of gifts are even worse. The shame people like me experience around receiving is obvious: we feel unworthy. If I’m an irredeemable piece of shit, I certainly don’t deserve a gift, whatever it is. Your even thinking to give me [...]