What is Stigma to Me?
Stigma is like a dark cloud that comes off from the distance. It comes on fast with the strongest of winds. Just like a tornado warning. Then it’s over you and everyone can see it coming. It sits there and hangs on tight to your mind. There but not there. It squeezes your heart with the tightest and heaviest of pressure, like right before a heavy rain. Then BOOM comes the thunder and lightning and it crashes outward in every direction. Unpredictable in destination and the only way to stop it is the release of this pressure to the universe.
Stigma can be defined like the weather. It doesn’t come from only one place, but many places, It starts from one place and finishes in another, It can have the most profound effect on its surroundings and it can hurt or kill the people who are targets to its wrath.
When I was first diagnosed I felt stigma myself so there were two culprits in the matter. The person dealing and the person observing. This I would call the peak of stigma for myself because there was so much misunderstanding and not knowing going on around me. Stigma is the beginning of knowing that you have an issue. I’m going to be honest and say that there was a lot of shame and hurt feelings as well. It was when I got help that I started to hear the words “It’s not your fault!” from people that understood. That took an enormous weight off my back. Which helped send my lightening in a good direction.
Stigma usually starts with someone who doesn’t understand or even been around someone with a Mental Illness. It’s powerful, fast, and can strike at any time. It has the potential to rip through a room like the daily news weather broadcast. I once had this ugly game of telephone that happened over me and it really hit home with me because it was someone close to me. It started in one place and ended in another and by the time it got to the end the story was so mixed up it was confusing. However it ended with me and I was extremely stigmatized. I was so hurt it sent my body into an extreme fit of crying. This person immediately found out the story wasn’t true but the damage had been done. When lightening strikes, the earth can’t take it back. It can only go forward and forgive the sky for being so aggressive. Which is what I decided to do. Go forward and forgive.
Stigma can have such a huge effect on someone who is ill that they can seriously hurt someone or themselves during a manic episode. I’ve seen more than once stigma play such a toll through embarrassment (including myself) it can be like a bolt of serious lightening and rip through a room in less than a second. Most people just stand and observe rather than getting in it’s way because they are scared. The people that really matter are the people that want to get up and observe and record the behaviors. These are brave people and I give my sincere regards to them because without them we would not be able to determine which way the lightening is going to strike next.
Stigma to me is something that can still be very damaging but we have grown in understanding and knowledge of what it is and can do. To all of us. It doesn’t come from one place but many places, it’s starts in one place and finishes in another, it can have the most profound effect on its surroundings and can hurt or kill people who are targets to its wrath.
I hope those who read this know that I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m a consumer and I have been stigmatized and misunderstood, but I’m still here because of the support and decrease of stigma in the past years. It’s nice to know and feel the world finally understanding that Mental Illness is real and potentially dangerous but not a bad thing either. Just like the weather.
About Natasha Sinclair
With every recovery, there's a story to be told. Especially with Mental illness. Some of the most remarkable recovery stories come from these individuals. I am one of them. I'm a successful 33 year old Pastry Chef, but I'm also diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Addictions Disorder as of 8 years ago. I want to talk about the many aspects of recovery. For years now I have devoted myself to my BPD Website, local guest speaking and a volunteer for local Mental Health events. I would like to share information I have gathered about BPD through experience and research. Positive and hopeful information on BPD is scarce in social media today and should be brought to the forefront like other Mental Illnesses. I would like to offer information both scientifically and medically I have found through research that may clear the air a little bit on Borderline. I feel this needs to be done more. The many different facts that I have discovered relating to human emotions and behavior are mind opening, which are key components to think about when journeying into recovery.