Fear of stigma

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a co-worker at my school (the school year just started on Monday) I was talking too much, like I do when adrenaline kicks in, and I ended up telling her that I have schizophrenia. I was mortified the minute I heard the word come out of my mouth. I told this person that I don’t usually share that info, so would she please not share it with anyone. I was upset about it all afternoon and evening. I cried about it because A. I’m worried she’ll tell people and they’ll have wrong ideas about me, and B. I feel frustrated that I carry a secret. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m not a monster or a freak and shouldn’t have to be afraid…
I feel better this morning; stronger. We’ll see.


Stigma exists, so I hope you don;t have to face it. On the other hand I personally disclosed to quite some people and it need not be the case that only negative things come from it… I like to compare it to other heavy life-events like disclosing to someone that, for example, a parent died. Not something you tell to everyone. And some may not be able to relate. But others might also support you when knowing such things, and it can in my experience strenthen bonds and deepen friendships. I’m aware that it is not a perfect comparison, but I am also aware that paranoid ideation is not uncommon among us sz’s. Maybe best to look at it from the positive side until there are reasons not to…


I fully understand that you are scared and upset! Especially disclosing something like that on your work place. I also told my boss and one other co-worker I had psychoses. At that moment I was so panicky about other life events (my scary ex going to court for visitation with our son) that I didn’t really care what they thought of my illness. Later I felt stupid for telling them and started to worry. So I get your fear!

I easily tell people a mild version…burn-out or PTSD or anxiety. They have less stigma. I am scared of using the word psychosis. But - I recognize the experience that sharing this can open up and deepen contacts. You face people in a vulnerable way, with “masks off”. In response many are understanding and let their guards down too and take their masks off.

I actually think it’s brave of you to tell something like that. Of course, you are dependent on how she responds, which feels scary! But you might also get a really good response…! It might make your contact better, more open. It might even change her opinion on schizophrenics! Because she sees that you are functioning well.

I hope for you that you get a good response. For now…trust that she deals with this in a nice and responsible way. Most people are well-intended. :slight_smile: Good luck!


I use this term quite often and am somewhat tickled to see someone else use it. I have rarely let anyone see me without my mask, or at least some form of it. Throughout my entire life i felt i could never let anyone see ME without a mask,of which ive had plenty. I used to call myself the chameleon, because i was so good at hiding in plain sight.

I am also hesitant to let others know of my psychosis and the things that come with it, generally my wife will pull me from a situation saying i am having anxiety issues.

Only recently have i decided to ditch the masks and let who truly am shine thru. This came with and still has much agnst and anxiety but i felt as though id been living with masks for so long, i had lost myself and didnt know who i really was without them. I rarely speak completely openly about my illness without being prompted, but i am open to speaking about parts of it, sometimes with complete strangers. I dont introduce myself saying , " hello im so-and-so and im schizoaffective". But i no longer get stuck in my head trying to make sure that my mask is on securely amd no is able to pick up on my issues, pretending to be someone who i felt i needed to be instead of who i truly am.

Since my revelation and new outlook, i feel it has been like a weight lifted from my shoulders to not be so secretive about my inherited shortcomings. I speak as though i have cancer, or diabetes to try to eliminate any stigmas when first discussing sza with someone, it is after all a disease which we cannot help but to have. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. But it does help to relieve the secretivness of the whole issue which i think lead to more anxiety and worry than disclosing it and then worrying about the repercussions that would follow. Others may feel differently, but i have recently been open for discussions about myself and have felt much better in the process.

Workplaces are difficult, i have not had this situation yet, so i cannot speak to that situation except that we are all covered by the disabilities act if discrimination is occuring. Social politics are difficult and are completely different and i would judge those situations on a case by case basis. But to insure positive outcomes in the future, we need to be aware and not burdened by the possibility of a negative one, it is inevitable.

i hope letting more people know of the illness in which you suffer will grant you more positive outcomes and less debate over whether to do so, or will it backfire, or will they tell others, or a hundred other things we all worry about… and just let it out and no longer have to carry the secret, and be open to the positive and possibly negative outcomes but be rid of that monster on your back.

PEOPLE are panicky, scared, and mostly stupid. But a PERSON alone is smart, compassionate, caring, and generally curious. So if we who suffer from sz & sza educate and openly discuss our issues, when in the proper settings mind you, we can move forward with reducing the stigmas attached to our illnesses. Then we no longer have to lurk, disguised in the shadows, hoping no one will notice.

Sry i was a little long winded on this one guys :smile:


That’s a beautiful post @Reggie!


I deal with this all the time. It is better for me, I can’t speak for you, to own my schizophrenia and at the same time explain why I do things like have to ask someone repeat themselves sometimes. I mean it’s also about being real when people ask me why I have been so dedicated to scholarship…it is because I want to be able to treat this illness by knowing it from the inside out. I mean I was one of those patients who just sort of was “fubar” and now I am a doctoral student in clinical psychology. That is some serious shyt! I have a serious reason to do what I do! It’s because hardly ever do people know this particular illness inside and out.

So when people ask me “why” I use my redeveloped social skills (they took a hit when I was psychotic) to answer it in social settings. With professionals in health I am much less artsy in the message.

There is a huge workbook on how to or how not to disclose I could point you to if you want to really study the subject.


still got that on my computer… I would think it a pretty good idea to have that stickied somewhere, or linked to at the main page of the site. Gives you quite a good idea where you’re at in coming to terms with sz, and where you might want to go to.

I will be done. Will message an admin

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Some people can be very understanding about that kind of thing, but others aren’t. I’d be careful who you trust with that information.

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sometimes certain people can prejudge me before they even meet me and this can lead to discrimination but if they actually knew me in person they would have a totally different idea, they need to get to know me first and trust me so that they can rely on me to do what i’ve got to do, like in a job.

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Thanks to everyone for responding. Today nothing unusual happened and I didn’t see the person I talked with/told yesterday. @Reggie, you totally touched my heart. I used to call myself a “Zelig” because I had seen a character in a movie who became whomever he was around. I do want to just be myself. I’ve been pushing myself down for so long that sometimes I worry there’s nothing of myself left… But, I don’t want to wear a mask. I appreciate your openness and advice, along with @anon73478309, @crimby, @asgoodasitgets, and @mortimermouse (I would be interested in the book you mentioned). Thanks, everyone :heart:


I would like to know the workbook. Please.


Work from the greatest mind in stigma

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I probably won’t disclose to coworkers. Some people that are my family’s friends might know.

Well, people can be surprisingly decent if given half a chance. I can’t predict what’s going to happen but I hope everything works out for you Hedgehog.

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No problem. Glad you find it pleasing.

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Thank you, @mortimermouse! :blush:

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Thanks @Hedgehog, that means a lot!!

I wasnt necessarily a Zelig (first time ive heard this) but i did have completely different personas i created for myself to fit in with different groups or feel differently in certain situations. No one really ever caught on that i wasnt being truly me, even myself i guess too. I was a damn good chameleon! Should of been actor i think sometimes, i crushed it in drama class way back in school. But it is nice to shed my scaley skin for my newly found freedom from my own stigmas, allowing me to properly face stigmas from outside entities. A truly supportive wife and few close friends help tremendously. Good luck @Hedgehog and have faith in people and confidence in yourself.

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I told this one coworker that I was diagnosed with bipolar, soon the word spread, and I was treated very badly, especially by the administration.

I hope that it works for you @Hedgehog but sometimes it’s best not to disclose your diagnosis at work not everyone is going to be open minded.

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