What is stigma to me? Stigma is when people judge me for having a mental health condition. Stigma to me can be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark about my mental illness or my treatment. Or it may be subtle, such as someone assuming that I could be unstable, violent or dangerous because I have a mental health condition. Now you may think to yourself, have I encountered this? The answer is yes I have and its quite a terrible thing. What have I done to try and cope with my mental health? I have tried to educate myself as much as I can about having bi-polar so I can speak with the best of people and tell them how I cope with living with what I have to live with. I was told I should never say "I am bipolar" I am not a illness. I have bipolar is the approach I always use. I try as much as I can to speak out for mental health I am only a small voice. If I was more successful I am sure I would be able to make more of an impact on the subject of Mental Health.
Things in Ireland that I feel need to change for the better regarding Mental Health are as follows. When someone is in a depressed and in a low state of mind and they want to speak to a friend, the last thing they want to hear is "Billy came around to my house last night and he spent all night talking the last thing I want is him calling at 7pm in the evening". Maybe you are not aware of it, but this type of comment is a major factor. The time when I had planned to take my own life, I felt I had no one to talk to and no one would listen to me. I am sure many of you can relate to that in someway or the other.
This business of meeting people lets say in the morning and you are trying to be in good spirits and you are having a joke and a laugh and people say "oh did you take the happy pills this morning" now I can take it they do not know my situation and know that I take bipolar medication but it reinforces an idea to me that hang on a second you can not be happy you are better of sad and when you are sad don't call to my house to speak about it because really when I am at home I don't give a damn about you or your problems. You may look at that and say "oh its just a remark Ciaran" well its these things that need to change and then it will be ok in my eyes.
Bipolar this idea that its just happy one minute and sad the next, really gets under my skin. I found these Myths and Facts which I think are very helpful.
Myths and Facts About Bipolar Disorder
Myth: People with bipolar disorder can’t get better or lead a normal life.
Fact: Many people with bipolar disorder have successful careers, happy family lives, and satisfying relationships. Living with bipolar disorder is challenging. But with treatment, healthy coping skills, and a solid support system, you can live fully while managing your symptoms.
Myth: People with bipolar disorder swing back and forth between mania and depression.
Fact: Some people alternate between extreme episodes of mania and depression, but most are depressed more often than they are manic. Mania may also be so mild that it goes unrecognized. People with bipolar disorder can also go for long stretches without symptoms.
Myth: Bipolar disorder only affects mood.
Fact: Bipolar disorder also affects your energy level, judgment, memory, concentration, appetite, sleep patterns, sex drive, and self-esteem. Additionally, bipolar disorder has been linked to anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, migraines, and high blood pressure.
Myth: Aside from taking medication, there is nothing you can do to control bipolar disorder.
Fact: While medication is the foundation of bipolar disorder treatment, therapy and self-help strategies also play important roles. You can help control your symptoms by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating right, monitoring your moods, keeping stress to a minimum, and surrounding yourself with supportive people. quoted from Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D
I feel employers really need to develop a better understanding of mental health in Ireland Now I know this subject can be open for debate, I don't wish it to be. I just want people to understand that I wish to be able to have the right to say' listen before I start this job, I might have an appointment once a month with the doctor and I don't want to tell you a lie and say its for subject matter X ,when really its because I have bipolar and I need to go see the psychiatrist. ,This is not going to affect my work, i'll even be more creative than most of the other people you have working for you but I feel lets just have a honest relationship and let me show you that I can work and work well. I have bipolar under wraps and its not going to affect my work'.
I hope this sheds some light on the subject for people and lets them understand where I see things over on my side of the road. I'll come stand on your side of the road if you ask me over.