Stigma: The Thorn in My Side

Since I was a young child there was a thorn in my side–a thorn in my flesh that penetrated deep into my heart and soul. I couldn’t pinpoint what the prick was or where it originated from, but something was wrong.

As time progressed, more thorns found their way into my flesh pricking me throughout the duration of my life–reminding me I didn’t measure up.

Soon a mental illness cactus threw out its painful thorns of stigma and pierced daggers into my life and psyche. These thorns stuck into my skin permanently with painful reminders of their existence each time stigma resurfaced and slapped again.

Eventually I removed my thorns from my flesh one at a time and gave them back. They were not mine to keep. Upon my thorns removal I realized what my thorns were.

The thorn in my side and thorns in my flesh were shame. Shame penetrated my heart and soul for years and interfered with the quality of my life. I realized after many years that stigma of mental illness caused undue heartache and shame–a shame I did not want or deserve so I gave it back to the originator. I gave my shame to the many people who stigmatize people with mental illness.

I am not ashamed of my mental illness–they are. They may keep their shame and wear it. Shame is not mine to wear.

After I gave back my shame and stopped being ashamed of myself, my mental health improved. It was like a bed of nails was removed from my heart and a light was lit and shone through me. I could see everything clearer. Life was brighter–I was brighter with no dagger like thorns in my side darkening my spirit. I was and am free of the thorns of shame.

I removed the painful thorns, washed off the tarnish and am applying my polish. Too many years of stigma and shame tarnished my soul, so I have a lot of polishing to do. I will not let the reflections of mental illness stigma stain me anymore and I will continue to apply my polish until I shine brightly.

Don’t let stigma or shame tarnish your shine or be a thorn in your side.

Give back their shame.

~Susan Walz

But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.’  (Numbers 33:35 King James Version)

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