Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stigma of Mental Illness

I really hate that there is so much stigma attached to mental illnesses. It amazes me how people jump to conclusions, judge, & condemn without knowing any of the facts. Like how a group of sufferers can all be labeled as "monsters", "soul suckers", terrible people who will ruin your life. I've seen articles warning people to not date or even become friends with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. That's just so wrong. It's so hurtful to me. I know I have my major issues, and I am not naive to think that they only affect me. I know I've unintentionally hurt people I love dearly. But I've never gone out and purposely tried to ruin someone's life.

It's this stigma that keeps me from telling the majority of my family & friends. I saw what happened when I tried to be open & honest about being Bipolar; people didn't know how to react. They treat me differently now, and others avoid me altogether. So, if I were to tell them the BPD diagnosis, I don't even want to think of how that would come back to haunt me. And it sucks. Because there are some who I really don't know whether I should tell or not. Like my mother. I love her dearly, but it took her over 5 years to (mostly) accept that I am Bipolar. Even still, she tries to downplay my depressive episodes with a "everyone gets down now and then". Oh, if she only knew the number of times I've been so severely depressed that all I wanted to do was die. If she only knew how I deal with such strong negative emotional by cutting, to distract myself from the pain in my heart. If she only knew how many times I 've tried to commit suicide. But I can't explain it all to her; because I don't want to upset her or make her worry. Besides she just doesn't seem to wanna hear it anyways.

Now with Borderline Personality Disorder, I know she could be a great source of encouragement and help as part of my support system. But with other people, I don't want to be looked down on. I don't want to be dismissed like it's all in my head. Or my problems treated like they're insignificant. I want to be able to tell my mom, my close family, and best friends, and I just want them to understand that I am struggling and going through a lot, that I'm trying my best to get better, and that I want and need their support.

Maybe though I've yet to tell them because I am terrified of rejection. If I tell them, they might reject me. And I don't handle rejection well. I even have a tendency to push people away before they have a chance to hurt me. I self-sabotage relationships, projects, and situations in my life, before I officially can "fail".

So, perhaps some of that stigma is right. Because it seems to me that in a way, I AM a monster. I tear myself down, and have been ruining my own life for years. Who's to say I won't end up ruining beyond repair someone else's life? I don't think I could live with that.