Don’t Feed the Stigma!

The day after I recovered from one of my worst break downs to date, I had a day of zero stress planned. I woke up, took The Goon to school, and crawled right back into my cozy bed, waiting for The Joker to get off shift. He got home and cuddled in bed with me until it was time for my “me” day to start. The Joker sent me away to get a full body massage and stigma-chalkboardmy hair done (this mohawk takes maintenance!) and just- a break from being in the house. He even picked The Goon up from school and took him to his parents so I had nothing to do when I got home, and we could have a much needed evening to ourselves. I got home to empty house (The Joker was dropping off The Goon) so I could turn up my music and dance around while I got ready for dinner that evening. I thought the day was finally going to be a day of relief and stressless fun!

That changed as soon as The Joker walked in the house.

“My dad said to remind you to watch what you put on social media…” he said in his “I’m instantly going to regret saying this” tone. My day was instantly like a deflated balloon.

I knew exactly what posts he meant.

The last couple days had been such a struggle, and through therapy and my founding of a female Veteran mental health non-profit, I have learned to speak out about my issues because you absolutely never know who you can help by just speaking out. So, I did just that. The two posts that can be found here and here, originally started on Facebook and Instagram. Those would be the posts that were referenced by The Joker’s normally very open minded father. I was shocked, and of course instantly offended. It takes a lot to offend me, honestly it does. To be told to harness my emotions on such a struggling topic- one that almost claimed my life mere days earlier, was like a kick in the face.

Not one call, not one text, NOTHING to question those posts. Normally, the most supportive people in my life were now the ones who made me feel completely out of line and alienated (not the first time, but still more supportive than most in my life…)  I was told I was “upsetting” people in the family. Those people who have my number. Those people who could have called, asked, talked to me. I am an open book on the topic because not only is this issue almost completely out of my control, it’s something that people who don’t understand need insight on, so better than someone who struggles with it. NO ONE reached out. NO ONE called and checked. NO ONE did anything other than talk, whisper, and act like I was a ticking bomb.

The next day, when The Joker’s dad came to drop off The Goon it was nothing short of awkward as fuck. He walked in, and tried to get out of the house as quickly as possible. Something very unlike him. He’s that happy-go-lucky Italian father everyone wants. This time, he was far from that. He even made a “joke” about “not coming off my meds again”. Yeahh….

The stigma around talking about mental health issues is just mind blowing to me. It’s the stuff no one wants to admit or talk about and when someone does, it’s like the whole world comes to one of those rusty halts that makes noise and stuff falls off of. Everyone starts to whisper and shake their head. They start “feeling sorry” in the way of pity, not worry. It turns into alienation, distrust, and a barrier between those who don’t understand. Not put up by the sufferer, but by those who don’t grasp what is happening. Instead of asking, talking, sitting down and trying to figure it out. It makes no sense. The only way to stop the stigma is to stop feeding the stigma. Stop making it not okay to be open about issues. Stop making people feel like they are wrong for voicing their experience, emotions, or struggles. There is NOTHING wrong with being open about any of that. Sometimes, just saying the words or typing the words is an outlet. Don’t deny someone the outlet they need or deserve. Don’t deny someone who may need to see someone else’s words to understand their own struggle better, or to motivate them to get the help they need. I have THREE years worth of once every 2 weeks therapy under my belt. I learned that “manning” up to my emotions, not bottling them up, SEEING in writing what I am dealing with, and than breaking it down and realizing what happened is my best medicine. To be told by anyone, ever that that is unacceptable, frowned upon, or “weird” is aiding in the stigma. Stop. Feeding. The. Stigma.