and what to do about it?
Stigma is uneven. I know of no other person who has experienced this, and I know a large number of people who have mental illness.
I am the only person who has been targeted locally.
I have not been inside a mental hospital for years, but I can still expect verbal abuse because I was inpatient.
Someone will approach me, to see if I will behave in an erratic fashion. If I do not, then they appear to be disappointed.
I have experienced my fair share of bear-baiting.
I try to avoid trouble, keep my head down, and avoid anyone who might mean to do me harm.
People also seek gossip about me, and have approached my siblings demanding news.
Something will happen every week.
People have used foul language to my face, and have used this about me.
I have been called a ‘b***h’.
I have also been told how sad it is that I ‘sit around all day, and only watch TV.’
This is another form of stigma, as people who have mental illness often lead busy lives. They work, study and look after their families.
I have little idea what to do about all this, though dressing well seems to help. So does keeping a clean, tidy home.
This is because people also believe that we do not shower or wash up our dishes.
People will also speak loudly to me, keeping spaces between the words, as apparently mental illness has made me deaf as well.
Then there are the rigid smiles, barely concealing the fear.
They will speak to the air above, behind and to the side of me, but not to me.
‘Does she eat sugar?’ has happened as well.
Enquiries are made of my parents when I am standing there right in front of them.