stigma isn’t just an insult

Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labelled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

While the Germanwings crash story generates more stigma against people with mental illnesses, it’s important to look at the meaning and ramifications of stigma, as well as some strategies to decrease it.


I work hard, constantly get stellar reviews, and hardly ever take a day off. I have always shown up earlier and left later than most, and am confident that despite the extra work it requires, I have never once let my mental health affect my job.
But I still feel like I can’t tell anyone.
Why I keep my bipolar disorder secret at work

Most research into the understanding of stigma has been focussed at the population level, but stigma is an essentially individual and interpersonal process.
Time for a cultural shift

“1in4 people, like me, have a mental health problem. Many more people have a problem with that.”
Stephen Fry on mental health stigma

Though he is a mental health advocate, Corrigan encourages the mentally ill to carefully consider whether they want to “come out” to others. Once you are out it is hard to get back in, so you should test the waters. “You might say to somebody, ‘Hey, did you see ER? Sally Field came out as bipolar. What did you think of that?’ If they say, ‘That’s just political correctness, I hate those people,’ then that is someone you should not tell.”
Avoiding the stigma

The latest survey also confirmed that social stigma continues to dictate many people’s attitudes toward mental illness – 44 percent believe people with manic depression are often violent, and another 25 percent think people who have mood disorders, or who have manic-depressive illness, are very different than others. (NAMI)

Your irritating mother-in-law? She may just be irritating.
Bipolar is not a new word for just darn unpleasant

“certain period of my life that my spirit was broke by repeated losses and disasters, which threatened, and indeed effected the utter ruin of my fortune … in this wretched state, the recollection of which makes me yet shudder, I hung my harp on the willow trees, except in some lucid intervals … ”
Robert Burns‘ suspected bipolar used to fight stigma

“Where does stigma stand now? Over the past 10 years we have found signs of progress in bringing bipolar disorder out of the shadows.”
Bipolar & stigma – let there be light

“She’s a psycho. You’ve got to get her out of here,” a supervisor said.
An open letter against the stigma of bipolar and depression

“Those ‘lithium psychos’ look at me with those eyes! Those eyes!”
Smothering the stigma


Bipolar babe stomping out stigma
Stigma fighters – real people living with mental illness.
Living With the Stigma of Mental Illness: One Woman’s Journey
I think he’s like bipolar or something.
How much did stigma harm Robin Williams?
Online Bipolar Assessment Quiz Creating Mental Health Stigma
Thriving professionals with bipolar
Facebook group: bipolar awareness – stop the stigma.
Bipolar Disorder Stigma, Suicide & Families: 58min webinar.

Published by


battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

30 thoughts on “stigma isn’t just an insult”

  1. Great post! :) It’s so important that more people speak up about this. Most people are not well educated when it comes to the topic of mental illness. This lack of education contributes to the fear and hate that’s out there. In the news, mental illness always seems to be talked about in a negative light. It usually involves some sort of crime. There are articles that are out there filling people full of fear by telling them that medication for mental illness is directly related to murderers. Correlation does not imply causation. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that. Sharing this for sure! :)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hmm. This resonates with me: “At my former company, everyone gossiped in mock horror about a manager who “had a mental breakdown” and went away for awhile, as though he had a contagious disease no one wanted to catch.” This is from the first link. I’ve had this very thought about people reacting as though mental illness is a contagious disease.

    Actually even when people disclose other forms of illness, especially chronic or life-threatening, many people can’t run in the opposite direction fast enough. A good friend’s mom had cancer and lost a lot of friend’s because she was ill. She was no longer useful to them as she was no longer a social butterfly, life of the party. I have felt that people in my social circle who know about my having bipolar and family members feel pity for me. And that’s not helpful AT ALL.

    Quite pessimistic but I think adults who don’t have mental illness are mostly hopeless and untrainable, education-phobic. Children and teens are the ones who will accept the facts and propagate the truth. I think more energy should be spent targeting this age group.

    Robbie Burns and I have the same birthday. He always gets the attention. Lots of haggis and bagpipes..just not for me ;)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes – just a small remark from a “friend” tonight spun me into despair for a nanosecond (I have bipolar) – so I can imagine if you do have (if you “are”?) all three. ((((HUGS))) I un-spun so I am ok, but for a minute there I almost jumped through the screen. (smh)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh hell yeah, you are so right about the contagion aspect, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! And also yes re pity. Empathy yes, but fuck pity hard with someone else’s dick. I also agree about the changes happening with the next generation not the current one. Well okay, the truth is that I agree with your entire comment.

      You can keep Rabbie Burns … and bagpipes. I’ll hang on to the haggis though ;)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so sweet and agreeable :) And lmao re: fucking pity hard with someone else’s dick. That’s very Tupac-poetic. I’ve never had haggis but based on the ingredients I wouldn’t touch it with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole ;)

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Haha ok ok I will keep compliments narrowed to your sharp intellect, 20/20 vision and uncanny ability to wow the striped socks off of everyone with your cut and paste technique. Besitos

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Great piece! I’ve weighed the decision carefully, having seen and experienced stigma far too often to ignore it. I’ve concluded that for me, the personal risk is less important than the need to advocate and push stigma back for all of us. The more common and routine such discussions become, the less stigma.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m thinking a lot today about transphobia and homophobia. I wonder how many how many more people are driven to suicide by the sheer impact of the stigma against mental illness alone (not the illness itself). Doesn’t bode well for those of facing all three…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes – just a small remark from a “friend” tonight spun me into despair for a nanosecond (I have bipolar) – so I can imagine if you do have (if you “are”?) all three. ((((HUGS))) I un-spun so I am ok, but for a minute there I almost jumped through the screen. (smh)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes! So many things to fear. Fuckit. I’m keeping a close eye on you bro. Wish we lived close enough together so that I could beat up anyone who ever gives you shit.


  5. Excellent post.

    Only a handful of the people I know are aware of my depression and anxiety struggles. I’ve heard far too many comments about “crazy depressed people” and even more about those with bipolar disorder (which my doctor suspects I may have). It’s a damn shame, how people vilify something they don’t understand.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Brilliant! So many, many good & interesting links. Still reading my way through.

    I have not heard “bipolar” used for irritating people – yet. The “I’m a bit OCD” thing irritates me, as does the seeming extra-prejudice-on-top stigma against people with personality disorder.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It would be tricky for me (personality disorder). More of a research piece perhaps…or maybe a “Time to Change” blog? I wonder what “Time to Change” would make of a blog about stigma against people with personality disorder, from the perspective of someone with bipolar?



  8. Have you heard about Stigmama?

    Also, I’m a little biased because I write for Stigmama and my post “Why I Keep Away From Madness” will be published there on Tuesday…to mark the end of Stigmama’s “March Madness Month”

    Finally, YOU would be wonderful contributor to Stigmama – you do NOT need to have human children to contribute. My friend the blogger/writer Elaina J. Martin has contributed to Stigmama several times, & she was hesitant as she doesn’t have kids, but it was all good:

    Just a suggestion to add to that lovely brain of yours – thank God it hasn’t been washed by the $cientologists, which reminds me to go check out Craigslist because I’m sure their revolting announcements such as “Stress, Anxiety and Uncertainty weighing you down? We can help!”are up. When you open up that link, it says is “We have solutions! Call us”.

    Yep, the three they post every couple days are back up there, I just checked. I’m going flagging – wooo hooo! The other two they use are: “What is Personal Integrity?” as the obnoxious title. In the body of the message L. Ron Hubbard & the $ word are surprisingly mention. The last post has the vague “WTF” title “Something can be done about it!” and its message is again vague:

    “Yes, something can be done about it!
    Fears, rollercoastering emotionally, misemotion…..
    Contact Elizabeth at show contact info to find out more!”

    I fart in Elizabeth’s general direction!


    Teapot, who will never be “Clear”!
    Gotta start working on my $ costume for Halloween, 2015!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve just followed stigmama tyvm it looks great :)

      I had to google misemotion; what a horrible sounding and unnecessary word.
      misemotion: a coined word in Dianetics and Scientology, often used loosely to refer to anything that is unpleasant emotion, such as antagonism, anger, fear, grief, apathy or a death feeling. The full meaning of misemotion is an emotion or emotional reaction that is inappropriate to the present time situation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. misemotion – that’s the first time I’ve heard of that word, and all I can say of it, oh-so-eloquently, is: “blayrrrrrrrumphhhhheeeeewwwww!” Those S & D folks need a lot more than being “clear”! Perhaps enemas of the brain?

        Liked by 2 people

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