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 is an excerpt from my last post here on Ameena’s blog. I can not tell you that I have always treated myself as well as I do now. I can not even say that I treat myself as well as I should. What I can say is that I have learned on an extremely difficult road that if I don’t treat myself well, no one else will. If I don’t like myself I will change myself for other people. If I change myself for other people, I will never be with people that actually like me. If I am with people that don’t actually like me, how will I know it is ok to like myself? It sounds like a trap and it is. We trap ourselves, every time we accept less, we trap ourselves.
It is hard to step back and look at the trap we are in. No one around us sees us any better than the way we treat ourselves and so, when looking to our fellows for reassurance, which is normal by the way, we get none.
The thing is, we know. We know we are capable, yet we doubt ourselves when we look for reassurance from others and it is not there. In my life I have allowed myself to feel so low about myself and my life that I was spending my time just waiting to die.
Shortly after I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder in 2001 my life changed and I crashed. My husband at the time had been complaining quite a bit about the behavior of my son, who had also been recently diagnosed. My husband was also looking at me differently. He suddenly decided I wasn’t good at paying the bills, although I hadn’t had any problems doing so. He became quite controlling as though I were a child and everything I wanted to do became something he doubted I could do. Driving the hour to Boston, especially at night. Everything became something I should doubt that I could do and I did doubt myself. As I failed and the behavior of my son got worse, my husband and I argued all the time, me constantly defending my son. Everything just seemed to fall apart and the stress level was at a dangerous point.
I went to my son’s therapist and with her sitting with me, I called the Department of Social Services and reported myself. My claim was that I was afraid I was going to hurt my son. When I met with the woman at DSS, she asked me if I wanted her to open a case and I told her I did. I went through investigation and my claim was unfounded. However, this did get some help to come out to my house. I was then deferred to an organization called MSPCC. A woman was sent to my house to sit with me and help me to get respite services for my son.
Before I go on, I want to say that I do not believe any of this situation was directly caused by my son’s behavior. I believe more that his behavior was worsened to a great degree by the stress in the house. Read more