Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stigma: Being Understood

I was reminded again today, that despite the growing awareness and effort that so many are making, things that fall into the category of "mental illness" are easily stigmatized.

And the reason?  Well, my theory is that it's simply impossible for someone with thought patterns and brain chemistry that are "normal" to understand, and that makes it just a bit weird and scary.

I was thinking about it again because I was talking with someone who did understand.  For five minutes this afternoon I talked about how I passed last night, pushing the anxieties and fears away.  I talked with someone who understood how something that can be combatted quite rationally in the middle of the day becomes incredibly overwhelming, and can't be rationalized away when it is keeping you awake at 3 am.  Someone who understood that well meaning advice like "get back on the horse" isn't really all that helpful because what you're dealing with isn't rational, but that you can't get mad at the person giving the advice either (even though it stings) because you know that they really do care about you, but just can't understand.

It was nice, just for a few minutes to be with someone who understood.


shallowfrozenwater said...

i just wanted to say that i really resonated with your feelings of anxiety and irrational feelings in the middle of the night. i just couldn't say anything in the space i was in while reading what you wrote.
too many times lately i've woken and dwelt on irrational stuff as i struggled to get a handle on what i was feeling. i've always been a log type sleeper so it was extra hard because i couldn't get to that space. anyway, i couldn't say anything but i did say a little prayer for you in that space.
may blessings come your way very soon.

Lisa said...

Thanks Ian. I definitely appreciate those prayers. The middle of the night is always the hardest, I think, because it's so much more difficult to stave off those things that surround and overwhelm. I'm thankful that I don't have nights like that very often any more, and I'm thankful for the prayers and those who understand to some or great degree.

Praying for you as well.