The Problem of Stigma

Things have not been going well for me as regards symptoms. I keep my rule; “never believe the delusional thoughts” and that helps very much. Yet, the experience of fighting this illness is unpleasant, steals or diverts positive energy, zaps creativity and makes me agitated and hyper.

I think the largest part of my problem is stigma. I’m ashamed to be mentally ill, it provokes fear and even condemnation in others. They dislike it. If I had cancer, or some other “respectable” disease, they would support me and love me. With mental illness, however, they blame me for it. It’s very confusing because mental illness causes strange thoughts and behaviors, others don’t understand that my cognitions are distorted and delusional. They make fun of me (of anyone) because we’re delusional. Stigma. Discrimination.

“Saul, why do you stigmatize us?” Mental illness is just too hard to figure out and no one likes difficulty. So, they blame me for being mentally ill. And, maybe from how I’m treated, I unconsciously learn to blame myself too.


I would check out some google searches on “self stigma”, you sound like you have it pretty bad.

Yeah stigma is some crap. I did a thesis on an intervention for it…might do my next project on it.

I have a load of it. I have friends and make friends easily, I perform well, but no one will date me. It sort of sucks. The best thing you can do is not do stigma to yourself. That’s where I would start.


By the way, I have a pretty bad past on top of schizophrenia which doesn’t help. I have like…layers of stigma.

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You think that the not dating thing might be because of the schizophrenia? There was a time when people could have known that I was schizophrenic in college before I started on meds. Maybe that could have been why I got so many “I have a boyfriend” responses. That or really bad luck. Could also have been because a lot of the women I asked out were hot.

Dear Mr. Vernon:

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain… …and an athlete… …and a basket case… …a princess… …and a criminal.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

How I see myself is part of the cycle. How I see myself causes me to act in particular ways. That, in turn, limits the way others can interact with me. Thus, the cycle of stigma.

I’m I’m shy, then others can’t interact with me as they interact with energetic extroverts. If I’m rowdy, then others can’t interact with me as if I were peaceful and loving. If I’m ashamed of myself, or ashamed of my mental illness, I might be defensive, withdrawn, unsure, or things like that - and that shapes the kinds of interactions possible.

I have to be confident and sure, not ashamed of my mental illness, not wanting to announce it to everyone, but not feeling constrained to hide it either. Sometimes the stigma starts with me, I’m the one who puts it into action.

It’s ok to be mentally ill. I give myself permission. There’s nothing wrong with having this illness. I have no fight with anyone about it, I’m at peace with it, I accept it. Now, I can take the best care of myself. Because it’s not easy being mentally ill. It needs special care and attention, just like any other illness.