A Woman's Voice

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ More comments on ~ The “Stigma” of Mental Illness ~ March 31, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte


Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”  ~ Corrie Ten Boom ~ 

Over the last several weeks I’ve shared a series of posts dealing with depression and other forms of mental illness. I was prompted to write this series for two reasons. I am a depression survivor. I know the despair and debilitating effects of major depression. The reason I refer to myself as a survivor means I have figured out ways to effectively deal with overcoming my depression. It took not only months, but years, of dogged determination.

I am grateful to say that I have lived a full and rewarding life. I consider myself to be very fortunate because the initial prognosis by the medical professionals was not very optimistic. In my early thirties, I was told that I would be on medication for the rest of my life. I flatly refused to accept this course of action. I have worked long and hard to come up with better life coping skills and I have succeeded. It’s not to say that I never get depressed, it’s only to say that I am better able to handle the situation. 

The other reason I am writing this post coincides with the above quote. My experience with depression has enabled me to “become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work”  God has planned for me. I feel that I am being called as an advocate to share my experiences so that others will be encouraged to speak more freely about theirs. In this way, perhaps the “stigma” attached to mental illness will continue to decline.  My heart has gone out to people who have shared some of their stories with me. I want to share some of these stories with you. Dealing with mental illness is never easy whether you are the person suffering with the symptoms or the family supporting the ill individual.  This heart wrenching story explains more.

One writer says…”After more than 14 years of symptoms, I finally couldn’t let my mother go untreated anymore. We had been trying to get her to go for voluntary treatment for years. I had her committed against her will and after a 6 month stay in a mental facility she is now staying with my brother who makes sure she takes her medication. She was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, but because it took so long for treatment to start, she will never be the same person she was. She lives in her own world now and is unable to communicate in any significant way with people.

I would love to see the perception of general public change towards Schizophrenia. Most people believe that it gives the person suffering from it split personalities and that they hear voices and that they are all homicidal. Truth is Schizophrenia is characterized with “hallucinations” of all the senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste, but it also breaks down the person’s ability to interact in social settings.

My mother was smart enough to hide the worst of the symptoms from us for many years. If the “acceptability” of mental illness was better, she might not have tried hiding it.”

Another writer says…Undoubtedly there are many people who still bear a stigmatizing attitude towards mental illness, some of whom may even direct that towards certain sufferers they encounter. That is sad. However, I’m sure that there are many other people who do not have that negative attitude or mindset, and yet fail to encourage and show acts of kindness, because they don’t understand the sufferer’s needs …They don’t want to offend, or are afraid that their words or attempts at kindness may offend and “set [the individual] off,” and result in rejection.

My wife and I have experienced this during our years of pastoral ministry. However, we learned through repeated exposure and experience to look and care beyond the episode of the moment.
Thank you for this important series.”

I would like to thank both of you for sharing your stories and thoughts on mental illness. I think education and public awareness will eventually help individuals to show more compassion and empathy towards those with mental health issues. The care givers also need the support and encouragement of others because they are deeply affected as well. 


2 Responses to 'THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ More comments on ~ The “Stigma” of Mental Illness ~ March 31, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte'

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  1. […] on A Woman’s Voice, there is a wonderful post on the stigma of mental illness. I hope you enjoy […]

    • Andrea….thanks for sharing this post! 🙂

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