By Nancy Virden (c)2021
Stigma is opinion without facts. Isms (such as sexism, racism, etc.) wall-in specific population groups by describing and assuming the same behavior, thoughts, motives, and expressions of each person within that population group. All _________ are ____________. This then is used as an excuse to discriminate and display prejudice.
Prejudice against some population groups to which I belong is apparent. Per mental health, I have experienced discrimination in the job market. As a Christian believer, accusations of hate and stupidity are thrown in my direction. Most of these judgments seem to come from not only misinformed people, but fearful ones.
A fear of the unknown is one thing. We all experience that to varying degrees. Men and women of valor take the time to listen to others and learn, reading books, researching, and most of all placing fears aside in favor of the truth. The only way to overcome fear of the unknown is to know whatever or whomever it is we fear.
Beyond fear and prejudice, stigma feeds the pride of the one who is willing to stay in it. I know a woman who felt she had to be in-the-know. Trouble is, she did not understand much, and depended on rumor and exaggeration to appear knowledgeable. I could tell her a fact about my struggles, and by the time she retold it, it was minimized, and loaded with stigma and outright lies.
Okay, so she’s obvious. What about the subtle ones who smile and nod as if they empathize, and then do not speak to you again? What of those who have their minds made up before you open your mouth? What of those who will not allow you to share? I was with a group of women who played a question game at every gathering, effectively preventing real conversation. God forbid I guess, that we would learn to love our neighbor.
Pride says, “I have not succumbed to emotional instability or mood disorders because I am too strong for that (therefore, I am better than you).” However, has the braggart been tested in the ways you have been? Has he fought so hard that his body and brain took a break? He has never used the courage it takes to survive while a brain is screaming, you must die!
Pride falsely claims, “Your faith is weak, that’s why you allow your emotions to take over.” Is it possible the self-declared strong believer is not in touch with emotions? Could she be legalistic, demanding constant joy, joy, joy down in our hearts? Maybe she is in denial.
Pride says, “Your emotions are showing. Take your pills!” Clearly, this is about control. In ignorance, the speaker has no understanding of medication, how it works, and why it works.
Pride says, “Why not put your trust in Jesus like I do?” It takes tremendous faith to place or preserve trust in Jesus when a brain will not allow one to experience him! Maybe the glib person has not experienced the loss of everything that matters.
Pride says, “I have suffered more than you and still have not broken down.” Maybe on paper a list of trials could look impressive. However, to suffer in the same way as anyone else would mean to experience the same life, in the same contexts, with the same physical and mental makeup, and receive the exact teaching and training. It is impossible to measure suffering. Meanwhile, what one may perceive as insignificant struggle, is indeed real to the one in it.
WHAT OF A HEALTHY MINDSET?
This week, someone said, “I cannot imagine wanting to attend a support group for years.” The misunderstanding is that anyone who needs a group for that long is really sick. But what about those without family, or without an understanding family, who find what they have been missing in a support group? Are they sick, weak, or super-smart to have their needs met in a healthy way?
Today’s Helpful Word
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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