Debunk that Stigma

Elisa A. Escalante/ LMSW/ 10-18-2020

     Stigma 1- People with anger issues are horrible people and sociopathic/ narcissists

      A person suffering from anger issues often has ‘a lot of heart’ so to speak. They are quite often good-hearted people that have been hurt/ wounded so deeply due to their lack of boundaries and kindness that they gave to an evil/ greedy world. Anger is a defense mechanism/ survival program emotion that gets developed and polished after a vast accumulation of pain/ hurt. A wall of angry boundaries often protects a survivor from ever getting ‘hurt’ again. Even in many cases with criminals, it is not that they are ‘absent of morals’, rather their moral code is different due to their life circumstances. Most humans do ‘bad’ things and feel guilty after. It is those that have no remorse of extreme crimes such as torture or premeditated murder (without feeling threatened by the victim) that are likely sociopathic.  

     Stigma 2- Addicts are selfish

      An addiction is self-medicating gone ‘haywire’. Meaning the person using the drug often intended to use the drug to cope with emotions and symptoms that they otherwise had no handle on. Addicts often do not intend on hurting the family members and friends, it is often about finding a way to live with scary and unbearable symptoms. This stigma could otherwise be rephrased: Addicts are not inherently selfish, rather, their desperation can sometimes lead to what some would perceive as ‘selfish acts’. When a drug happens to be the only thing worth living for, it becomes the center of a person’s attention. When you are asking a person suffering from addiction to give up their drug, you are asking them to give up the one thing that takes them away from chronic suffering. The issue of addiction does not go away fast, unfortunately.

     Stigma 3- That’s ‘not sexual trauma’ type behavior, he/ she must be faking it

     Most people have no clue what ‘post sexual trauma’ behaviors even look like. The fact of the matter is, those ‘odd’ behaviors you see that make you feel someone was not assaulted, may be the symptoms of someone that has been assaulted. Many survivors of sexual trauma are on one of two ends: isolation & lack of intimacy, OR lack of boundaries & promiscuity.  Post assault, some survivors may want to avoid ever being hurt again and therefore will isolate and refuse sex to defend themselves from trauma again. Then on the other hand, some survivors may become more promiscuous with the wish to practice having control. This is known as the phenomenon of ‘reenactment’, goal being to replay the trauma in a safer environment, with hopefully, safer people.

     Stigma 4- If you are functional in life, you are not mentally ill

     Holding a full-time job does not mean you are ‘mentally stable’. Raising a family does not mean you are necessarily mentally healthy. Being rich does not mean you are happy and absent of stressors. Having the appearance of a ‘normal’ or ‘functional’ being does not mean that you are not mentally disordered. Believing that you are not ill, does not mean that you are not ill. Just because your friend looks happy with all their shit together, does not mean that they are happy with all their shit together. This is the purpose of my blog in general, “Functionally Mental”, meaning many people can summon up the energy to appear functional all the while struggling with mental erosion and emotional issue’s. No one is immune.

     Stigma 5- There is always a ‘perpetrator’ & a ‘victim’ in domestic violence households

     Firstly, there are absolutely cases in a domestic violence situation where there is a clear perpetrator and a clear victim. However, what is less talked about is that there are also quite a few situations in which the couple or household has people that play both roles. It has been observed in many therapeutic sessions and CPS cases that sometimes one partner can be a perpetrator, and then the next day be the victim, and vice versa. The couple, (or poly group) can be abusive toward each other and overall toxic. A person in an abusive relationship can be a ‘victim’ one day, and the next day go on to abuse. Sometimes in these cases all parties lose track of who was abusive first and are in a constant cycle of abusing and being abused. When it comes to DV situations, there are a lot of gray areas.

    Stigma 6- ‘Gateway Drugs’ always lead to harder drug use in the future

     This stigma is a major shame, because this is exactly why medicinal cannabis and psychedelics have been banned when they could have spared a lot of mental pain. If only we had used them for the right reasons and under licensed professionals from the very beginning. One drug does not necessarily lead to another, and even if someone is constantly drug switching, it is their mind that has the addiction. There are many people in this country on ‘the wrong drug’ to address their issue. Alcohol, caffeine and junk food VS cannabis, psychedelics, and exercise. When someone does not get a healthier drug to address their mental issue’s, they are more likely to go to a dangerous drug to do it. Enough with the stigma of gateway drugs, and MORE on the psychoeducation of how some natural drugs can provide holistic healing.

    Stigma 7- If you are of a ‘normal’ weight, you do not have an eating disorder

      Although there are many eating disordered individuals who happen to appear either malnourished or severely obese, appearances are deceiving. There are many people who have what we could call ‘normal’ bodies of a ‘normal’ weight but are suffering from eating disordered patterns behind closed doors. Regardless of what eating disorder a person has (anorexic, bulimic, binge eating) there are a few familiarities with all sufferers: obsession, perfectionism, shame, compulsiveness, and self-esteem issues. An eating disorder often starts with societal shames & demands, leads to the ‘need’ to alter our appearance for others, and inevitable frustrations as we will never meet those superficial body standards. Someone can get themselves to what looks like a ‘good body’ or ‘good weight’, but the disordered thinking patterns may be there for many years to come. ED has more to do with what is happening in the sufferer’s mind vs what the public see’s in their outward appearance.

     Stigma 8- People with anxiety are just being dramatic

     Though we call them mental disorders, we must be aware that the name is very deceitful. What starts in our minds can quickly manifest into physiological symptoms. Also, there are many times it does not start in the mind, rather it starts with our external environment. Example: a loud noise- triggering our hippocampus (part of the mind that stores memories), hippocampus reverts back to the last time the mind heard a loud noise- loud noise sounds like the car accident from 2 years ago- the amygdala (part of our brain that releases adrenaline for fight or flight) gets triggered- adrenaline releases through our body- commence the physiological symptoms: rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, sweats, breathing difficulty etc. These symptoms trigger our minds to concern “What is this?” “Oh no, it’s happening again!” “How long will it last?” “Is anyone watching?” Anxiety is a vicious cycle and requires a lot of care. Rest assured, anxiety sufferers, DO NOT want anxiety.

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

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