Shhh… That is Stigma

With all the illnesses in the world to pick from I had to get mental illness. I had to get the only kind of illness that condemns you and destroys you for having it. If mental illness does not kill you on its own the stigma related to its name will eventually destroy you.

I am hurt and deeply saddened today for many reasons but one of them is because my own mother has been slowly killing me for twenty-five years because of stigma. My entire life my mother only loved me if I was good and perfect. There was no unconditional love and if she had it she did not know how to show it.

When I was diagnosed with mental illness twenty five years ago that was the day my mother’s daughter died. I was dead in her eyes. She never saw me the same again. I saw that look of disgust and pity in here eyes each time she looked at me. I felt the pain I caused her every time I spoke to her. She could never hide it and I could not forget it even though I tried desperately to. I always tried to make my mom happy and love me.

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Her views of mental illness have always been archaic. She was old school. Mental illness was something to laugh at and be ashamed of and fear. This is what her oldest daughter had become.

My mother’s way of dealing with my mental illness was to not deal with it at all. Maybe if she pretended like it was not real and I was not real, we would both go away. Just don’t think about it and it will all go away.

The problem with that was that I was very real and I did not go away and neither did my mental illness. While she was pretending my mental illness was not real my mental illness became more severe and real nearly killing me many times. My mother continued to stay away and pretend. It hurt her too much. My mental illness hurt me too much too, but I could not leave the “too much” as I was the “too much.”

My mother is a very smart woman, but she chose not to educate herself about my bipolar disorder . Don’t talk about it. She said things like, “Nobody talk about Suzie’s mental illness. Shhhh… Don’t say anything. Don’t bring it up. Shhh…”

Let me tell you what shhhhh… does.

Shhh… belittles.

Shhhh…. shames.

Shhh… humiliates.

Shhh… detroys.

Shhh… makes you feel like you don’t matter.

Shhh… makes you feel like NO ON CARES.

Shhh… makes you feel like you aren’t worthy of anyone’s words, care or concern.

Shhhh… slowly kills.

Sometimes my mother makes fun of my “crazy” (great) Aunt Lilly. No one ever told me about my great Aunt Lilly until about five years ago. I guess Aunt Lilly was a shameful secret in our family. She was the relative you held your index finger up to the center of your lips and said shhhh… That was how Aunt Lilly was referred to. Her family, my family, put her in a psychiatric hospital (Insane Asylum) and threw away the key. My poor beautiful Aunt Lilly never got back out. She never got to go home and died in the Insane Asylum.

 

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I am the “crazy” Aunt Lilly in our family today. They didn’t lock me up in the Psychiatric Hospital, but maybe only because they couldn’t today. Mental illness stigma has decreased and treatment of people with mental illness is better—at least that much better.

My family still calls my beautiful Aunt Lilly “crazy” Aunt Lilly and laugh about it. It breaks my heart. Don’t they understand? Don’t they care?

Why can”t my mother and the rest of my family understand that when they laugh at “crazy” Aunt Lilly they are laughing at me?

Why don’t people understand that when they make fun of people with mental illness they are making fun every person with mental illness?

Will I be known as “crazy” Aunt Sue? In my family, I think so. I am trying to help them understand and I keep trying, but my family has a very hard surface to break.

Will stigma only end after the older generation dies? Maybe.

I believe the younger generation will be much better about treating people with mental illness wisely and compassionately. We need to end mental illness stigma now, so we do not have to wait another generation for it to improve.

We need to end mental illness stigma now so we do not have anymore “crazy” Aunt Lilly conversations in this lifetime.

Start normalizing the dialogues about mental illness.

Let mental illness become part of a “normal” every day conversation. Mental illness is  much more “normal” than you realize.

~wri;tten by Susan Walz | My Loud Bipolar Whispers


Copyright © 2018 Susan Walz | myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/archaic/

 

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24 Comments

  1. curioussteph

    An excellent post. Consider also that your mother may have a bit of a narcissistic trait in there–If you were only acceptable as perfect, the damage is in her. That she can’t take in the support that comes her way supports this, in my mind. It hurts a lot to feel judged, ignored. So much unnecessary pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. myloudbipolarwhispers

      Thank you fro your great feedback. I appreciate it greatly. I think your words make a lot of sense and I agree with you. I never thought of my mom as narcissistic but you may be spot on. I always thought her behavior was a cover up for her extreme low self esteem and dislike for her self but maybe it is just the opposite. Thanks again. Hugs, Sue

      Like

    1. myloudbipolarwhispers

      Thank you for reading and for following me. I appreciate your feedback as well. Mental illness is much more common than people realize. It is my pleasure to speak out about mental illness and it is my passion and the very least I can do. I went through everything I did for a reason. One of those reasons is to help others not feel alone and to not let them make the same mistakes I did, I will definitely check out your blogs, Hugs, Sue

      Like

  2. iceman18

    Two things people fear worse than death…to not exist, as in marginalized, insignificant, unseen and secondly, losing their mind. 100% of the people in the world suffer mental illness. That’s where the discussion should start about reducing the stigma. Much like the body, where illness can range from a cold, to the flu to chronic illness, our mental state can range from melancholy, anxious, mild depression, major depression to schizophrenia. While most people I’ve framed this discussion around agree, you can see the discomfort and disowning in their eyes build.

    Check out The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller. She talks a lot about your mom and the genesis of that emotional pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. myloudbipolarwhispers

      Thank you for your wonderful feedback and insight. I agree with your words. Stigma needs to end yesterday. We need to do whatever we can to end it so we can save lives. I will check out that book. Thank you for sharing that with me. You are awesome . Hugs, Sue

      Like

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