Mental health and self-stigma

Self-stigma – I think I have a lot of it. Even though I blog about my mental health. I think it’s a lot to do with how we use language. It seems like everyone wants to talk about mental health openly now and this conversation starts like this: ‘Talking about mental health is so important, isn’t it? We all shoud be more open about it. Bad mental health can affect our physical health. When I get depressed…’ or, alternatively the last sentence is ‘when I feel anxious…’ and that’s it: depression or anxiety.

That’s how people used to talk at my previous work, even though they knew about my psychotic episodes. I don’t know, maybe they wanted to sound supportive and didn’t want to lie telling me about experiences that they didn’t have but for me that sounded like they were saying: what you experienced is not mental health related, you just went crazy, that’s it.

What doesn’t help is the fact that I was suspended from work around six weeks after I told my manager that I decided to go off my medication. It was my right to see how I would cope without it, wasn’t it? And obviously, I was never told by my employer that I had to take it, but… it all looks a bit strange.

I was meant to talk here one day about how I got sectioned in December 2019 and my deputy manager got involved in it, although I’m not really sure what for as I was already off sick. She wasn’t very helpful coming to my flat with the police and telling me that I behaved strange. I did have some awareness of it, I must say, however, her being there meant to me that she came to be on my side, and clearly she was not. That was very confusing. It’s strange though that even though I am autistic and I was in psychosis, I could still understand that the situation was not what I expected.

I will not be giving more details here, I do not feel like it at all. It doesn’t matter what happened and what was the sequence of events. Not even because I am traumatised – strangely enough, I am not, even though I didn’t like the fact that I was drugged out of my flat under section 136, which is apparently against the law. I don’t want to write about how exactly it happened because it will make people focus on the wrong thing. Getting sectioned is not an action movie, it’s about how one feels afterwards.

That’s how I feel: I have a lot of self-stigma about my mental health because my experience just doesn’t fit anywhere. I don’t even know another person who had psychotic episode, even when I was in the hospital I didn’t meet anyone like that. I met people who had schizophrenia but I didn’t meet anyone with just psychosis.

Some people who were in the hospital had quite severe depression and I was thinking ‘and yet it didn’t turn into psychosis for them’ and again it made me feel like I don’t belong anywhere. And now, I’m here managing my mental health with meditation app, lifestyle changes and blogging and only occasional olanzapine dose.

Towards the end of my stay in psychiatric hospital in Poland, which was a few months after my first episode, I was told I had to be on medication to the end of my life. Is that fair? Olanzapine is ok short term but after just a few days it makes me eat and it kills my sex drive. Is it ok to expect that I will be tolerating that to the end of my life only because I had psychotic episode?

And then I had another one, yet somehow I’m managing without any regular meds now. That again makes me think like I don’t belong anywhere, I don’t fit any pattern. Mental health breakdown survivor? What’s that? I don’t know anyone who had mental health breakdown and then fully recovered.

So not only I have stigma about getting ill, I also have stigma about the fact that I recovered. I don’t know how to talk about it without making other people feel bad about themselves. I don’t want to make it look like I’m stronger than them but I also don’t want it to look like if my illness was not real. So I just don’t say anything.

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