There are days I just want scream at this entity called God. I want to look at Her and say stop fucking with me! I am losing my sense of humor with the crap you have heaped on me.
I didn’t ask to have Multiple Sclerosis
I didn’t ask to have an abusive childhood.
I didn’t ask to be transgender.
I didn’t ask to be Bipolar.
I didn’t want to be an alcoholic
Merriam-Webster defined Stigma: “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.”
The word Stigma should not be used when people look at the above conditions. All of the above issues are just part of who I am. People and society who try to put a negative label on this items tend not to understand the nature of the conditions. Which one of these labels would anyone want? There are days I feel like that car in front of you that is plastered with a myriad of bumper stickers. You want to read them all however there are so many and you can’t focus on them.
When I tell people I have MS I sometimes get the “I am sorry” comment. I want to strangle the person, however I smile and tell them I am doing very well and my therapy is working very well. As a woman I have learned to deflect the comments and never show what is going on inside of my body.
Being transgender probably carries some of the worst labels. We hear things like “Shemale” and “Tranny”, which are connoted with pornography. Currently right wings Christians are waging war against Transgender women with “Bathroom Bills”. They want people to believe we are pedophiles and predators. Others think we perverted and are really men that just want to wear dresses. The negative labels of being Transgender can be oppressive and is often the cause of manic depression and suicide. Ask yourself the question, why would anyone chose to be transgender when the result was hatred, loss of family and friends and blatant discrimination. I don’t think you would find too many people willing to make this choice. If you were to ask people that push negative beliefs about transgender people, if they had ever met or sat down to talk with a transgender person, they would say no.
Being a recovering alcoholic always has negative connotations. People see us as drunks or people that can’t control our drinking. No, I shouldn’t have started drinking; however, I had this noise from Gender Dysphoria and anger from the abuse. I wonder how many people would have dealt with these issues without alcohol. I look back and can see the beginnings of my Bipolar issues early in my adult life.
Having a mental illness like being bipolar is where Stigma can be overwhelming. When you look at movies or television shows the person with mental illness are seen as abnormal. I saw a show where a young woman was violent and destructive and her condition was Bipolar Disorder. The viewers were led to believe bipolar people are out of control. I recently read an amazing book and the husband was articulate, gifted and talented. Yet he committed suicide because of his bipolar condition. Yes, he destroyed everything, his business, marriage and family. His life was like the classic Shakespearian tragedy. I have the same bipolar condition he had and telling people that I have Dysphoric Mania is difficult. Do I want to be painted like the Bipolar characters in this book or movies? You have to understand telling people are risky and can lead to marginalization. Add the fact I have been suicidal and the negative labels can be impossible to live with. Like this real life Shakespearian character, I have left wreckage in my path. This includes alcoholism and suicide attempts.
People do not understand mental illness can be difficult and having someone shine a light on you is not welcome at times. I do not want to be seen as some sort of freak show character. For so many years I did not want to admit to myself that I had a mental illness. Yes, I was on anti-depressants and accepted I was dealing with depression; however, I thought it was the “garden variety” depression. I never wanted to admit I had serious issues, and only was ready when things got bad recently.
Using the word Stigma with regards to any of the issues above perpetuates negative connotations and creates depression and isolation. We must work hard to eliminate this word and the negative label if we want acceptance.