Dealing With Family Stigma Surrounding Your Illness

I think I have a pretty unique take on this, but maybe not. Maybe some of you have stories just like mine and I just haven’t heard them yet. I guess I’ll give you some background information.

My family is and has always been extremely supportive of me. I love them very much and we all have a great relationship. But, it’s not perfect.

I can understand not “getting” mental illness when your family member is first diagnosed. But you shouldn’t judge. You should do some research. Literally all you have to do is Google the illness, and you’ll find a definition. Then, BAM, you know what it is.

In my experience, my family seemed extremely uneducated on the topic. I got a lot of “They just put a name to everything these days”, or the classic “You won’t need those pills forever, right?”

Instead, I would have LOVED some supportive words. I just wanted to know that they knew I was still me, but that now I might need a little extra help some days. It would have also been great to get some questions.

How do you feel about all of this?

What can I do to help?

How can I learn more about this so that I can better understand?

Sadly, that was not my experience. I could give so many examples, but I’ll just give one. This person did not mean to hurt me by saying this, and I’ve forgiven them, but this is just an idea of the things I hear all the time.

I had my head out the car window because I was vomiting due to the Lithium I had to take at the time. It really didn’t agree with me. The family member driving, instead of consoling me, or I don’t know, maybe stopping the car? Said, “Don’t tell the rest of the family about this. They can’t handle it.”

It felt like the cruelest thing anyone had ever said to me, not just because it was rude, but because it made me feel like they were embarrassed of me and they didn’t care if I knew it.

So why am I telling you all of this? It’s not for sympathy. I want each and every person who reads this post to know to be supportive of their mentally ill loved ones.

I want you all to find out a little about their illness, ask some questions (if the person is comfortable with it), and never act ashamed of them.

To this day, most of my family does not know that I struggle with this. I’m not supposed to tell them. It’s so hard to break through stigma and just do everything you can to break it down when your family just builds it right back up. It’s really hard!

But we have to keep fighting. We have to be proud of ourselves for doing it too. If we don’t treat ourselves with love and respect, we’re not setting a very good example for everyone else. So keep slaying stigma! I love you!



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