Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that a stigma is a brand; a mark of shame or discredit. It is something that people with “mental illness” are saddled with. Society believes that people with mental illness are people who sit in the corner drooling all over themselves or someone who is a gun-toting psychopath who goes into a mall or university shooting at strangers. These are the people who get all the press. You don’t hear about the people who are faithful to take their medications and struggle daily with their depressions and manias.
We hold down jobs, we have families and we try to be active in the community. Chances are you know someone with a “mental illness” and don’t know it.
You don’t know because of the self-stigma we put on ourselves. We believe that people can see our illness. We struggle ourselves with feeling disconnected with society because of our illness. We work in therapy to overcome that self-stigma.
What we ask society is not to judge us by those stereotypes of people with “mental illness” and give us a chance. You will find people who are eager to be accepted and are eager to be an important part of society. We strive tirelessly for some kind of normalcy in our lives. Through therapy we achieve it.