“I look at my diagnosis as the best thing that happened to me.”
Patrick A. Roland
“Stigma is when someone is afraid of me or afraid of a part of me because they don’t understand – or want to understand – it. It is a predisposition to treat me and others like me a certain way based on a diagnosis I have because of their own fear about it. It’s like they’ve already decided how they feel about me without trying to get to know me and they put a wall up. These walls need to be shattered with education – and love.
Recently, I was told I use my bipolar diagnosis as a crutch – which is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. I do talk about my diagnosis but I talk about it so that others like me feel inspired. I’m actually high-functioning and able to maintain multiple jobs, commitments in the community and take care of my elderly parents etc.
I talk about my diagnosis because I want others like me to know they are not alone and that they can accomplish great things if they keep trying – and show themselves a little self love. We are taught by society to be ashamed of ourselves or live in fear of ourselves, but if we own who we are and love who we are we can not only make ourselves feel better, we can move the needle on eradicating stigma.
I take my bipolar diagnosis as seriously as if I had cancer. The funny thing is, if I had cancer, there would be a lot more sympathy and concern about me. People don’t call cancer patients names. Yet, people feel like they can call mentally ill people “crazy” or “psycho” or whatever. But a diagnosis doesn’t make someone either one of those things – it actually makes someone aware. I look at my diagnosis as the best thing that happened to me. Now that I know better, I can do better.”
This extract was taken from an interview I carried out with Patrick A. Roland, author of ‘Unpacked Sparkle’.
Read more of Patrick’s interview: ‘Happiness is an Inside Job’: Patrick A. Roland on Self-Love | (more coming soon)
What is your experience of mental health stigma?