Stigma. It Matters.

In all my years dealing with Mental Illness and Intellectual Disabilities, I have never once given up on those closest to me .. my Mother and Sister. Neither did my Father. And from a young age, it was instilled in me that when you make a promise or tell someone you love them through sickness and in health, you stick to your word, no matter the cost. And that, in my eyes, does not just cover marriage.

It doesn’t even cross my mind to think otherwise.

I can understand how most walked out on me during manic phases, but people with the same mental illness also walked out on me, including family. When you think of this illness in terms of cancer, they walked out because I had a more aggressive disease and they didn’t have the cure. Chalk it up to character defects and an insatiable need to be different.

I’m still fighting trauma from this. Still, after 10 years and then every 2, after that. I think about it every single day. I have shattered the left side of my jaw due to intense grinding during sleep and extreme periods of PTSD. Until I rescued my pup, Grizzly (who I hope to train for therapy), I was having months where I’d wake up every single morning angry at the world I was still alive…fear struck my core, I was haunted with flashbacks, grinding, and the thought of killing myself plagued me. Every single morning. It’s not pleasant. I have been in therapy for 10 years and little has helped until I found Buddhist-based programs and therapeutic models that work very well for me and my beliefs, personally. Thankfully, it is working in combination with other healthy outlets.

I get boundaries. But I always bounce back, 10x the person I was before. Every time. And I am finding it very hard to forgive those that shut their doors on me in my greatest time of need, although I am trying to find a way. Perhaps that is why I was experiencing symptoms of PTSD so strongly as I find myself in this wilderness of “how to let it go.” Sure, I understand stepping away for some time, but to say good riddance for the long haul is a bit extreme, hypocritical and traumatic.

I can come up with all the excuses in the book to make myself feel better. You’re better off without them, you’re a bigger person, etc. But it never works and it’s time to try something new but I’m unsure as to what that is.

I have a feeling that this ‘something new’ lies in my future of fighting stigma in such a way I’m heard, understood, validated and celebrated .. vs shunned, misunderstood and alienated.

Most people I work with on a professional level agree that there are huge doors opening up for me and that I will make great strides, in the future, concerning stigma. Not only because I work so damn hard at understanding what it means to me and has done to me, past and present, but also because I’m extremely passionate about it.

There’s little excuse for ignorance today. Education is out there and people are speaking out. I have been for 6 years, although my words even a fall short. Silence can be deadly. And that is sadly a solid truth.

However, in times of great confusion, I’m reminded of these simple phrases that help me forgive a little more every day.

“Your mental illness is not your fault, but it’s not theirs either.”

~

“Your parents are still recovering from trauma from their childhood, too. Take it easy.”

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