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An Anti-Mental Health Stigma Conversation I Recently Had

February 1, 2024 Elizabeth Caudy

My physical therapist, Marge, really surprised me by starting a conversation about mental health stigma on my last visit with her. I need to be in physical therapy because I’m recovering from double knee replacement surgery. Our conversations have revealed that she’s very anti-mental health stigma. Some people aren’t, so I just don’t discuss it with them. Physical therapy suddenly took on a whole new dimension.

My Conversation About Mental Health Stigma

I was doing a squatting exercise when Marge just started preaching to the choir–in this case, just me–about how people need to be more aware of mental health and lamenting about how there’s so much stigma surrounding it. I was so happy to hear someone else starting a conversation about mental health stigma that I was stunned into silence. When she started bemoaning how people with mental illness are stereotyped as violent, I broke my boundaries. I asked her if she knew that people with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, are usually the victims of violent crimes, not the perpetrators. She did know that. Then we started talking about the mood stabilizer I take for my schizoaffective disorder. Her aunt, who has bipolar disorder, is on the same medication.

When I told her I had a mental illness after I realized that she was a good ally, she said she knew about my condition. I think it’s in my chart for physical therapy that I have schizophrenia. I don’t know why they don’t have the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, but I do know it’s sometimes the case that practitioners of physical health don’t know as much as they should about mental health (even though mental health is physical health). It’s easy for blanket terms to become part of your medical record. This kind of simplification doesn’t apply to Marge.

Having Mental Health Stigma Conversations with People Like My Physical Therapist

I love it when people outside of my circle of family, friends, and colleagues are so on top of the truth about mental illness. This mental health stigma conversation with Marge reminded me of something at a Tori Amos concert my husband, Tom, and I attended in late May of 2022. The opening act of twin sisters said on stage that their father had mental illness and that they thought mental health was very important, and I cheered and clapped, which got other people cheering and clapping. I guess I was more effusive than I was with my physical therapist. At any rate, I was proud of myself at the concert for getting the audience to cheer.

This anti-mental health stigma conversation with Marge came at just the right time because it brightened up my late winter blahs. Learn more about it here:

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2024, February 1). An Anti-Mental Health Stigma Conversation I Recently Had, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2024/2/an-anti-mental-health-stigma-conversation-i-recently-had



Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

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