Monday, February 18, 2008

Stigma

I have been sensitive to it my whole life, but recently have become even more so in tune with the social stigma against people who have issues such as anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, etc. I have struggled with several forms of mental disorder on and off throughout alot of my life. Most recently dealing with a phobia, anxiety and panic attacks.

Immediately it became clear to me that not even all health professionals, not even all mental health professionals understand these particular disorders. I've had my issues trivialized, ignored, misunderstood and misdiagnosed. I am now fortunate enough to have an amazing doctor and therapist that I work with and for the most part have my issues under control, but it's still something I have to work at on a daily basis.

If health professionals can't grasp the enormity of these issues, it's understandable, although still often infuriating, why the community at large can't comprehend how serious and debilitating it can be. It is so sad to me how amazingly insensitive many people can be about it. Making jokes about people's situation, thinking it's ridiculous what they are going through, that they should just "knock it off", etc etc. When someone has, say, a broken leg, it's easy to see that they are struggling and need some help. When someone is having severe anxiety, however, it's not apparent to those on the outside what is going on. Even if you try to explain it, it can be very hard to understand. People who have gone through similar issues are usually enormous amounts of support, because they get it, whereas other people often don't.

I guess what I mostly am trying to say is, I just wish people were more understanding. Not in the way that they have to go learn about these disorders so they understand how they work, but rather in the way that they can understand that disorders like this exist in people and are very real and very debilitating. Maybe even be a little more understanding that usual that a person is struggling with an issue that has a great deal of social stigma behind it and they may not have a great support system around them.

Be gentle, is what I should say, in a nutshell.

1 comment:

  1. Hear, hear. Or is it here, here? I've never been sure. But as a fellow anxiety disorder sufferer, I wholeheartedly agree.

    ReplyDelete

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