With her permission I quote:
If I sprained my ankle, I’d have no compunction about posting it on my Facebook page and waiting for the flood of caring comments. Or writing about it in my column.
But what if I posted that I was staying home to work through a severe anxiety attack? Or a rough period in my schizophrenia? Or had just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
How would you respond? Would you even post it? I sometimes do, since I have decided to let stigma not hold me back. Stigma is a label someone else sticks on me. But I refuse to let the label stick.
I have been a missionary – voluntary social worker – abroad for over 12 years. Since I am back in my home country people around me assume I am back for good. I don’t feel called to tell them I will be going back abroad, at the right time with the proper care for myself.
It is the assumptions that get to me. No questions asked, there are people who assume they know this, that or the other. I’d much rather have a proper conversation. I’d love it if people will come up to me and ask me their questions.
That is what drove me to start a blog. To find like-minded people, either with or without Bipolar Disorder. People I can connect with and who understand the life I (strive to) live or those who have a desire to understand.
I also want to educate others as lack of knowledge makes blind. I want people to know what it is for me to live with it. And that it is possible to live a fulfilled life. That it is possible to follow my dreams. Maybe I have to take a by-pass, but I don’t care as long as I get there!
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work when dealing with institutions. When starting my blog, I had to think hard about future employment. Nowadays employers research the web to find more information on a possible future employee. What would happen when they come across my blog? It can easily stand in the way of me getting a job.
On the other hand, I decided that my blog will show how I deal with my Bipolar in a positive way and in my opinion that is a huge plus. If a future employer thinks differently, though, I guess.
Another example is the world of insurance. I thought for years I was insured for my funeral and was shocked to find out I wasn’t. In the meantime I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. And met with the stigma it carries in the insurance world. Oh, I can get insurance – at a much higher monthly payment.
As far as health insurance is concerned, I am lucky to be living in the Netherlands. A lot of the psychiatric care falls under a general law where the tab is paid by the insurance and or government. However, with present budget cuts, I wonder what will happen to our care.
I also wonder what will happen if I need to switch to an ex-pat health insurance, when I will be living abroad again.
Like every group we stigmatize, the poor (or fill in any other group. Note by me) have become unworthy and shameful in our eyes. – Jody Paterson
It doesn’t make sense to stigmatize people if you look careful at the word stigma. Two synonyms of stigma are ‘blemish’ or ‘defect’ according to the dictionary.
Who can claim to be without blemish or defect?
So why are people then stigmatized?