Day 14: Have you ever experienced stigma?
I have never been discriminated against for my mental illness in terms of employment, promotions, etc. But I have had people who are ignorant (or just plain rude) say things that are incorrect or hurtful. Just this weekend I had a friend’s coworker tell me that it is essentially all in my head. She also commented that if my parents had been tougher on me, maybe I wouldn’t have eating issues. I was very calm, surprisingly, and I politely told her that I would love to “just get over it,” as she suggested, but that my brain is wired differently and I can’t just turn it off. I changed the subject at that point, but it did bother me. I’ve had other people say things to me about how OCD is “learned behavior” or say “oh yeah, I’m sooo OCD too!” I try to remain calm and politely explain that this is a real disease that I suffer from and that I would love to get rid of more than anything else.
I think the worst thing in the world are the opinion articles and blog posts, particularly after the Navy Yard shooting and the shooting of the woman in front of the Capitol. When people are anonymous and can hide behind a keyboard, they can spew some of the most poisonous venom of hate that I have ever read. It cuts you to the core. I wish that those people could meet and talk to someone like me. I wish that they could see that this is a real disease and that their words are hurtful. I wish that they could come out from behind their keyboard shield and say those things to my face. Because the only reason that they are brave enough to be so cruel on the internet is that they don’t have to see the after effects of their words on the victim. Maybe one day we will break down the barriers of stigma, and teach tolerance and compassion to those who are cruel.