Mental Illness and Prejudice

mental Illness stigma

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Too many people hide mental illnesses and suffer needlessly. Unlike the past when my mother suffered from Bipolar Illness it is now talked about openly. I know the prejudice of having a mentally ill family member. I have skipped many parts of applications for employment or outright lied when there were questions about mental illness in the family. Went to my first year of college during the day and on my way home visited my mother in the mental ward of a hospital. Starting when I was about eleven years old until I left home at 19 I lived with it constantly.

The fights, strange behavior, not being able to have friends to my house ever in fear of what would be there. Trying to help raise my younger brother and sister to have a more normal life than I did and failing miserably. Watching a ten year old boy cry when the police car came to take her to the hospital once again and trying to get him to go to the library or anywhere he wouldn’t have to see it. Not knowing that as an adult he would resent it deeply. I tried my best in my young mind but left him scars he still has in his later years. I am so sorry. I didn’t know how much you knew I should have included you and explained. I really didn’t know any better.

Recently a lovely woman who was not treated for her illness died of cancer. She never told her family and was very secretive about her life. By the time they knew it was too late. She was the strong one, the older sister they looked up to. They didn’t dare interfere even though they were all past forty. They knew she needed treatment for her mental problems but she was a functioning adult and there is very little you can do to make people seek therapy. Such a sad tragic loss. Do we blame the family?

It is very easy on the outside to look at the family of a person with mental illness and say why don’t you do something? This is the same with alcoholism. You cannot force a person into therapy, they have to want it and in the throes of such a condition they cannot see they need it.

Bipolar people even with therapy and medication still suffer. They take the meds, they feel better. When they feel better they stop taking the meds thinking they can handle it. A lot of these medications have side effects. They can dull life. The person stops the meds and starts on the downward spiral of depression or the giddy heights of Mania. It is a roller coaster that the family is strapped into and has no control over.

The conundrum of mental illness is how much can we do? An adult has rights and among those rights is to suffer from mental illness. We cannot force a person with a cardiac condition into treatment why should we be able to force someone that has a disease that is not that easy to diagnose.

Some of these people are sociopaths and are very skilled at being normal. You only have to look at the past to see really mentally ill people like Jeffrey Daumer that so many people perceived as intelligent and charming yet did the most horrific things. This is an extreme case.

Most mentally ill people are good people haunted by a terrible illness. A lot are afraid of seeking treatment as it affects their ability to get and maintain a job. Mentally ill people have difficulty with personal relations as well and are left alone so suffer in silence.

I hope to see a day when mentally ill people are treated like people with physical illness. When they are treated with kindness and respect. A world where families are not destroyed. Mine scattered to the wind all of us trying to escape in our own way.

I am grateful that this illness was not passed to me. I do however retain the scars of growing up in that reality.

Thanks for listening and the next time someone judges a mentally ill person or their family I hope you speak up for them. They all need support so lacking in today’s society. We have come a very long way but not long enough.

37 comments

  1. wenchly50 · November 14, 2014

    Reblogged this on Phoenix Rising From the Ashes and commented:
    What a hard subject this must be for you. We have a good friend that is bipolar and has been through some very tough times when he tires of taking his meds and just stops them. Thankfully he has a brother that is always there for him, even in some very frightening situations. Too many people dont look at the person behind the illness and that is very sad. The people are there, stuck in a lifetime of pain, medications that destroy their organ and so much more!
    Thank you for writing on a very difficult topic and sharing your personal experiences!

    Like

  2. Gale Molinari · November 14, 2014

    Thank you and thank you so much for reblogging my post. I do not want anyone to think I am ashamed of my mother. I was when I was a child. Not any more I am proud of how she lived her life. It was sad when she died. I looked at her in the casket and thought how grateful I was that her torture was ended. It was a long and arduous life but not for one minute did I ever question her love for myself and my siblings. She was a lovely woman that suffered a lot. Perhaps my post will bring some awareness to people. I hope those with this illness read this and realize there is help available and to get it so they can live a long and happy life.

    Like

  3. marilynmunrow · November 14, 2014

    I completely agree sugar, except when this mental illness manifests itself as narcissism. I do think that mentally ill people need help and specialist care, but narcissism is a mental health issue too. I consider myself quite the authority on narcissists, having been the victim of one of them for nearly 2 years now. The narcissist will deny any mental illness in their family, even though the entire family are obviously all touched with the same trait. So sad that they allow this illness to ruin their lives by harassing and bullying other people, even those who try to help them. In the end, they will end up as very sad and very lonely people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gale Molinari · November 14, 2014

      I understand completely. I had a sociopath that used to be a friend on Facebook until I realized what she was. She decided it was amusing to post my picture making fun of the things I told her about my mother in confidence. She said I was also mentally ill along with some really awful other things. Of course it wasn’t true and I called her on it. I am not now nor was I ever ashamed of my mother’s illness. The reason I didn’t put it on employment applications is that there is that kind of prejudice out there that this same ignorant woman had. It is pretty sad when a person uses confidences to attack someone else. I know a lot about her family history and trust me it is not without its blemishes but I will never stoop as low as she has it makes me as bad as she is. Being a sociopath and also a narcissist she cannot feel shame or much of anything else so she does this kind of behavior. Such a sad person I can only feel pity towards her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • marilynmunrow · November 14, 2014

        Me too sugar, me too. These kinds of people as you say have no scruples as they do not seem to understand that what they are doing is wrong in any way. To even acknowledge that this type of sociopath or narcissist even has any influence on your life is not worth thinking about. It is them who need the help. They are like a dog with a bone. Once they get their teeth into something, no matter how ridiculous or how stupid it seems, they will believe it, and fight until their dying breath to make others believe it too. PITY IS THE WORD DEFINITELY.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. marilynmunrow · November 14, 2014

    Reblogged this on Marilyn Munrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. allabouteve16 · November 14, 2014

    There are so many celebrities with mental health issues which has, in my opinion, removed the stigma. There is no difference between having Parkinsons, Chicken Pox of Bi-Polar. All are medical conditions and are not shameful or to avoid. I know several people with mental health issues whether depression, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, PTSD etc and I treat them all the same as everyone else because that is what they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • La Sabrosona · February 22, 2015

      I kindly disagree with mentally ill celebrities having removed stigma in society in general. Celebrities’ lives are infinitely different than the average mentally ill person. A huge majority of “us” are on disability because the symptoms are so severe, the cycle is so strong and repetitive. The stress of not having enough money is enough to kill a person. Celebrities can buy their support. The average person is lucky to have a couple of family members and 1 good psychiatrist and counsellor.

      Like

      • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

        If a celebrity brings attention to the issue I think they help. They do not remove the stigma it still exists just not to the extent it used to. Try putting it on an employment application. We as a society are becoming better educated and I think that is the important thing. There have been great strides made since the 60’s when my mother suffered with it. At that time you never even talked about it. Now you can and there is help.

        Liked by 1 person

      • La Sabrosona · February 22, 2015

        Bringing attention to it is a great help. Otherwise people might not pay attention. I can’t imagine how mortifying that must have been for you to confront it so explicitly on a job application.

        I must say that in 2005 when I applied at Dave n Busters restaurant they had a “screening test” that was so obvious to me that they were trying to screen out people with mental health issues. I had to lie. I needed the job.
        I will email you soon Gale to get some more insight on having a mentally ill parent. Have a beautiful Sunday 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

        I am on Facebook too if you are as Gale Molinari if you want to email me use the subject WP friend. I get so many emails you might get lost. I am very happy to help. It wasn’t mortifying as much as infuriating. Why would having mental illness in my family have anything to do with employment? Why would I have to lie even if it was me??

        Liked by 1 person

      • La Sabrosona · February 22, 2015

        I agree Gale. It is infuriating. One shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed. Total BS

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

        That is why I speak out. I will be damned if I will be ashamed of any mental illness mine or anyone else’s. I had one idiot do a photoshop of me claiming I was mentally ill like my mother. This low life used to be a friend of mine that I discussed the issue with privately. I took that photoshop and I plastered it on my page and profile and said my mother was ill and I am not ashamed of it. I am not but if I was I wouldn’t be ashamed of that either. The person that did it was shown to be the low life trolling sociopath that she is. Since then I call these kind of idiots out. I really don’t care if people like it or not. There is an unfollow button on WP and you can block and unfriend on Facebook. They are welcome to use both.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

        I feel so strongly about this issue that I reblogged this post from last year when I had just a small following.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. ally1lakeside · November 14, 2014

    Thank goodness we don’t hide people away now with mental health issues; my ex mother-in-law had a breakdown after giving birth to her son (must have known how he’d turn out) and she was sent to a Mental Hospital; the shame it brought on their family appalled me then 34 years ago and still does today. We are all individuals and yet the Governments etc want to put labels on us all the time

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sulfen · November 19, 2014

    We’ve gone a long way. Long are the days where mentally ill people are treated like monsters and locked up in prisons secluded in the middle of nowhere. Families are actually helping them cope with their condition rather than sending them away. It can only get better from here on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gale Molinari · November 19, 2014

      I really hope so. More people will seek treatment and not have to live in misery

      Like

      • Sulfen · November 19, 2014

        In the US I think the biggest issue is access to treatment. I know most psychologists and psychiatrists charge anywhere from $100-$250 an hour. I’m extremely lucky that I have insurance and it would cost me anywhere between $0-$50 for a visit with them.

        I’ve met a handful of people that are living miserable lives that could very easily improve with medications but their excuses are usually “I could no longer afford my medication”. Or “I could no longer afford to see my doctor/psychiatrist for prescription refills”. It’s very sad when money gets in the way of people’s happiness. I sometimes feel like one day I will be devoured by these terrible policies as fragile as everything is right now. I don’t have any mental issues but I do have health issues.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Gale Molinari · November 19, 2014

    Absolutely. It is really sad to see people suffer when meds would make such a difference and sometimes they are in such confusion they can’t even ask for any help available. Seems you can’t afford to be sick in our society. It isn’t just in the US many other countries with socialized medicine if you need the system take forever to see you. Sometimes that is just too late.

    Like

  9. zambianlady · November 24, 2014

    I understand the need for acceptance of mentally ill people as I had a friend who had a mental breakdown. Fortunately for him, his family and friends accepted him as he was and this went a long way in helping him accept his situation and deal with it. I am glad to say he recovered fully. I wish more people would treat mental illness just like any other kind of disease.

    Like

    • Gale Molinari · November 24, 2014

      There is hope for people that suffer from mental illness if it is treated correctly. The stigma that is associated with it sometimes precludes getting that treatment. I wish that we had more education in place to make people aware of the disease and what is available. I am so happy for your friend. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that kind of a support system.

      Like

  10. Florence · November 27, 2014

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a
    few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that,
    this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

    Reblogged this on galesmind.

    Like

  12. cherished79 · February 22, 2015

    A well written article, couldn’t have said it better myself. Stigma, yes it’s almost better to say someone died of a physical illness than be embarrassed to admit they died of something related to mental illness, and god forbid it was anything related to suicide. Suicide opens a whole new can of worms.

    We have come a long way, but not long enough. I worked for a company for 6 years, and wouldn’t dare have disclosed I struggled with depression or it would have jeopardized my position. Days when I could barely crawl out of bed and at least tell someone how I was feeling “gee, today was tough”, I had to keep my trap shut with even the lunch ladies due to ‘loose lips’. Shame really, if I had a heart problem, they would be rallying all around me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

      So very true and if it was cancer they probably would have had a fundraiser. You can be cured of cancer. Mental illness has no cure there are only ways to cope with the world. I am glad my words helped you. Our cousins husband hung himself in her bedroom. His son saw it. They will be seared forever with that memory. All because of acute depression and alchohol. It wasn’t his fault but they will now suffer because of it.

      Like

      • cherished79 · February 22, 2015

        When I first went into the hospital with my first depressive episode, my brother-in-law cut ties with me and hubby, he thought I would be a danger to his kids. Stigma at it’s best. Sorry about your family member and his son.

        Like

      • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

        I am so sorry that must have hurt a lot. How very sad that he couldn’t educate himself more about depression. It is their loss really they never will see tolerance.

        Like

  13. cherished79 · February 22, 2015

    Reblogged this on living in stigma.

    Like

  14. Laura · February 22, 2015

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of the Claury.

    Like

  15. bpdtransformation · February 22, 2015

    Your points are well-intended. However, my opinion is that they may be less than beneficial for many people with “mental illness”.

    I hope that mental illness/emotional problems never come to be treated like physical illness. Let me explain.

    I was diagnosed with a severe “mental illness” myself (Borderline Personality Disorder) and experienced years of excruciating pain before getting better. Unfortunately, I received the well-meaning message at the time that this “disorder” was “not my fault” and “genetically and biologically based.” The problem with these messages is that they convey the underlying idea that this “mental illness” is something you will have for life, and that you can only manage the symptoms, not become fully well and free of the “illness” (the quotations mean that I consider these terms overly medicalized and conceptually invalid). In other words many people interpret these well-meaning messages as conveying an underlying hopelessness. I quoted part of an article below that expresses it better than I can:

    The other problem with relating mental illness to physical illness is that there is no good evidence that severe “mental illnesses’ are caused by biology or genes (which is something very different from emotional problems (“mental illness”) being expressions of conflict/problems with the environment and relationships which get expressed in biology). Of course I could be mistaken – if you have some evidence, I’d be interested in knowing what it is. I am basing my opinion on writers like Jay Joseph (on the genetics of mental illness, see http://www.jayjoseph.net), John Read (Models of Madness), Stuart Kirk (Mad Science), Thomas Szasz (Psychiatry: The Science of Lies), etc. It’s hard to read their work and keep taking what psychiatry says seriously.

    What I think more people would benefit from, instead, is to have an explanation of their suffering that does not use a label, and that conveys the message that they can fully recover to be free of their symptoms. The notions of “mental illness”, “disorder”, “biological basis” etc just do not convey that message very well, which is ironic because of their good intentions. John Read’s writing (e.g. Models of Madness) illustrates the disturbing finding that people who identify as having a “mental illness” do worse in the long run, on average, than people with similar symptoms who reject the notion of having a medically-based brain illness.

    As for mental illness not having a cure, I disagree with that also. Cure may be the wrong word, but “mental illness” can be cured in the sense of someone becoming free of their symptoms and becoming as well as someone who never had that “mental illness.” Even terribly ill schizophrenics have been cured; for example the former schizophrenics described in the books Rethinking Madness (Paris Williams) and Treating the Untreatable (Ira Steinman). And many borderlines, like me, have become lastingly well and non-borderline. It’s time people opened their eyes to that.

    Below is an article you might find interesting.

    Thank you for letting me state my opinion. We actually have the same goal – I absolutely agree that people with severe emotional problems should be treated with kindness and respect – I just think that the medical model of mental illness is not the best way to achieve this in most cases.

    Edward

    ————————-
    From: http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/06/open-letter-persons-self-identifying-mentally-ill/

    However, I believe that treating the term “mental illness” as a literal truth does more to harm that hope of recovery than it does to help it. You see, along with the popular claim that mental illness is a literal organic brain disease “just like diabetes” is a set of other dogmas unproven and unsupported by evidence. These include, being regularly told that not only do you have a disease but that this disease also has no cure and that you will struggle with it for your entire life. I have trouble imagining anything more hopeless than that.

    It also includes being told that you must take psychiatric medications, and often many different psychiatric medications for the rest of your life, and you should never ever consider stopping them. This despite what we know about the limited efficacy of these medications (anti-depressants are barely more effective than placebo in clinical trials; anti-psychotics have a short term effectiveness but increase susceptibility to psychosis, have major medical side effects and decrease brain size over the long term.) Where is the hope in this?

    Like

    • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

      You make excellent points. My meaning was however that we should have the same respect and sympathies for any illness. I don’t think anyone chooses mental illness and I do think there is a biological component in it. We need better education and also more research into other methods of treatment than just tossing a few pills or shudder putting people under electric shock therapy.

      Like

      • bpdtransformation · February 22, 2015

        Thank you. I definitely agree with the need for more research.
        Why do you think there is a biological component to “mental illness”? I’m just curious what you read that made you believe that. I assume you mean that mental illness is partially caused by biology (that would be different than saying that mental illness is expressed in the body/biology). We need to be clear about our definitions when discussing this stuff.

        Like

      • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

        I think that mental illness can be caused by chemical imbalances as well as misfiring in the brain and also some areas not developed or developed differently. All of our brains are different not one is the same. I have read a lot on the research on the brain and it is quite fascinating.

        Like

      • bpdtransformation · February 22, 2015

        Do you have any particular writers or books that you liked the most?

        Like

      • Gale A. Molinari · February 22, 2015

        I like Oliver Sacks his books I find insightful and very thoughtful as well. I read the Sociopath among us and also another book the Pychopath test. I read a lot on Bipolar as my mother was one. I read a lot on the internet and here and there and studied some in college. There is also a move done by Sam Vanhin (SP?) recently he is a self described narcissist that is quite fascinating as well as his book. I do read what I can find on the brain as well as I think it is really interesting. There is so much we don’t know!!

        Like

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