The effect of stigma on an individual’s acceptance of a diagnosis is something I find extremely important. As I noted in my last mental health Friday post, my first diagnosis came at the age of five.
At first glance, one might find it easy to stand in judgment of a mother that turns away the opinion of an expert. However, in my case, I was most likely one of the first children diagnosed with Early Onset Bipolar Disorder and at that time (1974), the term Manic Depressive was still prevalent. I can only try to imagine what the “label” would mean to my mother at that time. Something to the effect of her daughter being crazy, stupid, and/or dangerous. To look at her daughter, she knew those things were not true, but had she had a realistic view of what the disorder meant, she may not have so hurriedly pushed it aside.
the books I read, and later the internet, gave the worst case scenario as they do with most illnesses
At the age of 23, and receiving the diagnosis as an adult, I made an effort to educate myself. What I found to be the problem in seeing this in myself was that the books I read, and later the internet, gave the worst case scenario as they do with most illnesses. These things were not the case for me and so I turned it away myself, based on my oddly extreme ideas on what the diagnosis meant.
At the age of 31, I was once again faced with the issue. My son was then diagnosed with Early Onset Bipolar Disorder. It was still a scary thing although I sat and talked with his doctor over the actual facts. At that time, I began to understand things a little better and I let his doctor know that I had previously been diagnosed myself. She told me that if I did not take treatment, I could not help my son.
With that information and more knowledge about the illness itself, I accepted my diagnosis’ and went for help.
Bi-Polar Disorder can sound like a pretty scary thing. The highest suicide rate among mental illnesses and it is also the most treatable. Compliance becomes an issue and for me that comes with ignorance as well. Even after acceptance, there are times a person tells themselves they don’t need treatment, the same as a diabetic eating cotton candy.
If we truly do want stigma gone, we have to start treating ourselves better. We need to stop seeing ourselves the way stigma says we should.
Acceptance and compliance to treatment does not make us weak, it means we see our limitations and that is a part of strength. Compliance to treatment says we are not ashamed. If I want to be treated well, I must first treat myself well.
If I want someone to believe in me, I must first believe in myself. If I want someone to understand something, I need to first understand it myself. That is my responsibility.
This post is submitted by Trae who blogs at TripleClicka.wordpress.com where she writes about life and the lessons she’s learned along the way. She would be here to reply to the comments 🙂
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