Reducing the stigma of living with a mental illness starts with myself. My mental illness is a only small part of who I am. There is so much more to me, but that is another story.
Here are a few ways that I reduce stigma in my life. I hope they inspire you as well.
- I don’t identify as my illness, but I don’t ignore it either. I acknowledge and correctly label my symptoms throughout the day. I recognize that my thoughts are just thoughts, not facts, and not all of them deserve my attention.
- I watch my language and speech. Phrases are thrown around with ease without really knowing the true struggle and the strength it takes to live with a diagnosis of PTSD, bipolar disorder, OCD, depression, anxiety and many others. It is up to me to reframe these so I do not belittle the struggle of recovery. Some of the phrases include:
- “You are OCD!!” when I just like my kitchen organized a certain way
- “You are crazy” when I do/say something unusual for me
- “You are being manic” when I get a burst of energy and end up cleaning the whole house
- There are so many more that demonize.
- I am capable of learning and teaching others about the truth of living with a mental illness. Lately, it has been hard with mental illness being politized and blamed for some of the recent mass shootings. This continues to misinform the public, teaching that people with mental illnesses are dangerous, violent and unpredictable. That is not the case.
- I Advocate for myself so my rights and needs are met, allowing me to be more successful. I also help others to advocate for themselves.
This blog was written by Toma Trujillo, a mental health advocate.