Stigma
Breaking the Fear of Stigma
Category: Stigma
Tags: Stigma From Everywhere - Don't Be Afraid to Speak Up

Breaking the Fear of Stigma

When I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia, the news was earth-shattering. It rang in my ears like an alarm going off - something is very wrong with me. Of course, it was not until the meds worked and my delusions went away that I truly felt the magnitude of the diagnosis, the gravity of it. And my family felt the gravity of it. They were all stunned and just assumed I was angry. But I was delusional. Delusions went away - and so did my anger. This also stunned them. The change in personality. Me getting diagnosed and the change that meds caused in me had my parents not understanding at all.
But it made things clear for me. I realized my mind was tricking me. And that alone was scary, to know something like that can happen to a person, especially me. It was just earth-shattering, receiving my diagnosis. Traumatic to say the very least. Life changing. Perspective changing. Personality changing. Humbling.

After you receive your diagnosis, you have to go around the same people who honestly have not learned much about mental illness. The world is still very much in the dark about it. And these people can be angry over something you said during psychosis or they might just be abusive by nature. I encountered many "mean" people who were downright cruel after I received my diagnosis. Ugh. I hung out with a religious group, and that was where I encountered the "mean" person. He told me that my mom would protect me because after I was diagnosed, I felt like a child again. And I needed my mom. And this person was mean about it. And I was just processing feelings. I couldn't hide my feelings. And I was hanging out with these people at a religious function. And I was trapped with them. Of course, I have never allowed that situation to happen again and avoid those who are "religious" by nature. Because others at this party gave all the credit toward my healing to "Praise Jesus" rather than admit science saved me. If anything, Jesus was part of my delusions and the meds made that part go away. Jesus was clouding my judgment. I'm not religious but I understand it having been raised that way. Now, I'm a free bird. Anyway, I learned to overcome that kind of stigma, and the fear that you experience when you encounter the stigma, by standing tall around those who practice that kind of stigma. I have learned to use science and facts to support my healing and if people want to think I am evil, I let them with joy and even feed into it. I quit caring so much about people who are insignificant in my life.

Learning to overcome stigma after returning to work was something else. For the longest time, I had feelings of being inadequate and that I was an invalid. But I like to learn and I work hard. And I have kept being challenged. I used to think that someone with my diagnosis couldn't work. I used to think that working would be too much because my thoughts or emotions or feelings might get in the way. But after working, I have learned that I excel with a challenge. I deliver. I do well. Work is good for me. And I am good at usiing my mind and working. Work feeds my soul. I have learned to avoid those who don't enjoy a hard day's work because it's a joy only those who enoy working understand. And half my family collects disability and then does drugs. They think I am crazy to work. And I think they are crazy to live their life like that. We are not the same.

Overcoming stigma in relationships is difficult. People who are really untrained in mental health always want to tell you how you behave this way or that and call it mental illness. That is the worst kind of stigma, labeling all behaviors as mental illness. This I have encountered and the only thing to do about that is to cut people off. You don't want to be around someone who is constantly putting you in a box. I have left relationships for this and nothing makes me more proud of myself. I could have stayed and endured further mistreatment. But I left. I moved on. And I didn't look back. This goes for men I've dated as well as family. Learning to walk away from those who don't truly take an interest in my life. It' s their loss.

You will always find others who want to put you in a box because of your mental health disorder. Or who always want to accuse you of missing your meds. These are the people to avoid. They are negative and no one needs that kind of influence in your life. You can enjoy life with a mental health disorder. Religion never saved anyone, especially not me. You can work and excel at work with a severe mental health disorder. The media needs to portray stories of success more often. Homeland is a story of success for someone with bipolar disorder. You can be in a positive relationship with a mental health disorder. And you can walk away from any relationship that does not feed and nurture your soul. It helps if you work to walk away easier. Never settle. Always work on developing yourself. There is always more to learn.

Let's end the stigma associated with mental health disorders. Even if that means walking away from people who you think are "primary" to your life. We live multiple lives. There are always primaries in your life. Who cares? Make yourself your primary and look after yourself non-stop. Walk away from those who practice stigma. They will never feed your soul.

Science Behind Mental Health Disorders
Category: Stigma
Tags: Science bipolar schizophrenia depression
The Science Behind Mental Health Disorders

​The five main regions of the brain are the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, the occipital lobe, and the cerebellum. The frontal lobe is the main connection between the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe. The temporal lobe processes auditory perception. The parietal lobe processes sensory information about the body, visually interprets information in its view, and processes language and mathematics. The parietal lobe is alsothe area of the brain where concepts and knowledge are stored.

Unusual activity in the frontal lobe is thought to be responsible for symptoms of mental health disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is also believed to assist our brains incombining information in new and creative ways, explainingthe link between mental health disorders and creativity.

An example of unusual frontal lobe brain activity includes those diagnosed with schizophrenia.To see this, doctors examine the brainscans of thosediagnosed with schizophrenia. People with this disorder have high levels of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, which covers the front part of the frontal lobe. The high levels of dopamine lead to symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disorganized thought.

Another example of unusual frontal lobe brain activity is in the brains of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder.These brainscans show a constant cycling of norephinephrine in the frontal lobe. High levels of norephinephrine are known to cause symptoms of depression, while low levels create new connections in the brain, causing the ablity to make new thought-associations. Low levels also cause symptoms such as rapid thinking and pressured speech.

Mental Health Disorders and the Brain

People often question psychiatrists for their methods of diagnosing mental health disorders based on symptoms alone, with no biological basis (such as a brain scan). Where is the proof that these people who are diagnosed are truly in need of these therapies?

Well, a study from Stanford found an unexpected insight: after analyzing 16,000 whole brain images, researchers found a loss of gray matter in three (3) brain structures, several centimeters apart from one another. The brain structures affected are the left and right anterior insula and the dorsal anterior cingulate.

These brain structures are associated with higher-level executive functions such as concentration, task-switching, planning and decision-making, and inhibition of counterproductive impulses. This loss of gray matter was similar across patients with different psychiatric conditions. This reveals a link between psychiatric disorders and loss of gray matter in the brain and the subsequent symptoms that result.

Talk About Your Mental Health
Category: Stigma
Tags: Mental health Talk About it Recovery Therapy Support

I love sharing mental health stories with others. It's not always easy and sometimes can be emotional to do so. What happens during an episode is traumatic. However, healing does take place and so does moving on. You have to move on.

People have shared some amazing stories with me. Everyone is affected by mental health and everyone has experienced trauma. We can all relate. What we share here is a beautiful thing and it will help end stigma. We all know or are or have someone in our lives who experiences a mental health disorder. It's just far too common.

And by sharing experiences together, we raise awareness. Raising awareness is key to ending stigma. I look forward to a day where mental illness will be as easily accepted as diabetes. Sometimes lifestyle changes can help. And sometimes medicine is necessary. You really need to think it over what works best for you. Each person has individual preferences and expectations, etc.

Let's keep the conversation flowing and help end stigma.

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