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What Makes Mental Illness Worse Is The Stigma Attached

Updated on August 29, 2013

Thankfully, things have improved in medicine, and treatment, and understanding and there is less stigma today than there ever was.

Asylums have been closed where patients were abused instead of cared for. But since stigma can still be a problem today, let's talk about it a little.

What makes one feel stigmatized?

A boy in school was really poor at sports and all the other kids used to pick on him and give him such a hard time that he felt miserable most of his school days. (This is sort of what it feels like to feel stigmatized by our illness. We didn't ask for it and don't want it and we aren't bad people for having inherited it are we?)

Try and put yourself in other people's shoes once in a while. The neighbor with poor hygiene from being depressed is a person too and probably needs encouragement. They want and need love and acceptance, even if it's hard please try!

Stigmas of depression

While polite encouragement for the ill person is needed and helps and is much appreciated, many of our friends and family make us feel even worse.

Imagine if you had cancer for example, and you consistently heard:

“Why don’t you try harder?”

“Oh, you're just lazy”

“You want

to collect SSI money.”

What is one word to describe this feeling that makes people feel much, much worse?

STIGMA! A six-letter word that feels more like a four letter word.

“You’re not really mentally ill! Get off your meds.”

“You’re not the same person I used to know, the one I liked.”

“Oh, your weight is out of control! Those meds don’t cause it, it’s because you pig out!”

“You’re fat.”

Some thoughts from random people:

“On top of all my insecurities, my trouble with just getting thru one day to the next,

my family doesn’t even love me or support me. They don’t understand.”

“It’s tough that a large majority of the world is uninformed and that there is still a stigma.”

Sharing Illness with Others

I hope that families and friends will be more supportive, and prevent things from getting worse.

One thing that’s difficult for some is that they cannot really talk about their ever present symptoms with the secretary in the doctor’s office for instance, or the cashier in Home Depot. Because they have these inner battles, these internal demons if you will, and it seems inappropriate to talk about it. It’s hard to hide it, and act like everything is normal sometimes.

And the people you do tell- are they going to respect you, or not respect you? (Deep down you know they are not worth it if they don't.)

But you can overcome these fears! Many people have found a better quality of life, and many work as peer specialists, helping their peers by taking classes and showing their own success story.

It makes sense that they feel comfortable in a setting with supportive friends and staff, but we need to feel more comfortable in society. An important thing that I have learned is that I feel so much better self esteem wise, in many ways when I work or go to school.


Did you know that 1 in 4 people have mental illness?

Mental illness can be very slight or very severe. Every case is different even if 2 people are bipolar; they are very different and may require very different medications!

You can work.

You can go to school.

You can achieve your dreams.

Never give up!


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    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 6 years ago

      Hi Frugal Queenie!

      I'm so excited for you:) Honestly, you will grow from being honest and find out who your true friends are, of course! lol, but it will help you heal too by writing about it, and you will most likely help others!

      I want to encourage you to write here on hubpages too because there have been so many caring people ,to me, on here and there's so much information it's not even funny!!

      (ANd you can link to other hubs). Please give me the link to your blog! I'd love to read it and Welcome to hubpages, if you're new :))

    • FrugalQueenie profile image

      FrugalQueenie 6 years ago from Nottingham

      Thank you for speaking out about this I'm currently writing my blog on my history with depression and its scary to speak out and put myself out there for people to judge me and I know in a lot of places I will be judged and found wanting.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago

      We could go on with our lives and say "screw you, I don't need you if you don't understand" I mean I could. But I value the relationships I have with my family and people in general, "friends" neighbors, etc. So I don't want my issues to get in the way, I want to try to be my best but at the same time get a little respect and understanding or acknowledgement that I mean well, and I may NOT seem like your everyday person, or act that way, or I may be moody. Just accept me as I am as I am trying to do. It seems necessary to battle the demon of stigma...because if you don't people, will not understand you....And it's sort of a cause like I think any misunderstood group of people has, for lack of better examples: the gay rights community, or even unborn children pro-life, or the respect for the elderly.

      My goal is to use my experiences and knowledge and writing to educate and inform, hoping I shed some light on the subject.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago

      Lisa HW,

      Thankyou, for that is a valid point. People with an emotional disability or illness, need to reach out. Yes, this is #1 for survival, because others do (not) know always how we feel. We need to be or become expressive and not afraid to ask for help.

      thanks very much for your comment :)

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      This probably won't be much help to anyone here, but when it comes to other people not understanding things, it's a problem no matter what someone's situation is (whether or not mental illness is a factor).

      I think your point about people needing to understand and not end up being the cause of someone else feeling suicidal is an important one. The difficult thing, though, may be that even people try hard to understand someone with mental illness may just not be able to. I would hope if someone is feeling really, really, in need of support (and if his family and friends aren't being very supportive, or at least don't seem to be to him), it's important the person with mental illness tell a mental health person about how badly he's feeling around family and friends.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago


      I just wanted to add, that it's sorta easy for me to be open about myself here, but face to face in life, it's more difficult, unless I'm surrounded w/ one, two, or more friends who have it, or understand. I know it takes time, and working and keeping socially active does wonders.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago


      thankyou for stopping by. You've dealt with your stigmas very well. This is often hard for people who were taught as children low self esteem or who are so sick they feel "out of place." In any case, I believe there is hope, with a positive attitude, like you stated!

      I know it helps to be around other people who have disabilties such as cerebal palsy and try "accepting them" or to help someone and 'forget about yourself'!

      Yes, thankyou so much for the comment: The more we write and speak about mental illness and educate people,the more ground we will gain in fighting the mental health stigma.

      I try every time I write a hub on mental illnes(es) to help or bring something positive~my goal. Thanks!

      And I will read your hub. SchoolgirlFORREAL :-)

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Great, great hub. As one who suffers manic-depressive illness and PTSD, the stigma has caused a great deal of hurt. However, it has also opened my eyes to the fact that I have bought into many stigmas in this world, even mental illness in the past. It has caused me to sort them out, seek understanding and education on the particular area of stigma, and change my ways of seeing others and their problems. You spoke of this when you encouraged us not to rush to judgement with people in our path, but to try to see them through different lens (my terminology, not yours). I loved your analogy about someone who has cancer. You nailed it right on the head.

      Great hub, great information. The more we write and speak about mental illness and educate people,the more ground we will gain in fighting the mental health stigma.

      See my hub @

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago


      Thankyou for your comment! :)

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 7 years ago from Washington MI

      Having bipolar is a tough road. It is great if there are people in our lives who support us, but in my experience that is rare. The only way to battle the stigma is to be continuously out in the open. And that sometimes can be scary. There are so many people who don't understand mental illness, they refuse to believe the facts. So self acceptance is a major rule first and foremost for me. Your hub hits the nail on the head.