Top 5 Irritating Stigmas About Living With a Mental Illness

April 1, 2013 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

You know it and I know it: living with a mental illness and being open about it can have dire consequences. And, frankly, it pisses me off. Let's look at some of the more common (exceedingly irritating) stigmas about living with a mental illness.

Stigmas About Mental Illness That Irritate Me Most

1. We do not work, have relationships or raise families

Why is this ridiculous? Well, first let me state the reality here: Sometimes we cannot work. Sometimes our illness does effect our quality of life, relationships and family dynamic (Should People With Mental Illness Have Children?). But this is not always the case. When we are well--or even struggling--many of us have great jobs and relationships, 2.5 kids, a white picket fence and a chocolate lab! Sorry for the cliche' there, but you get my drift.

2. We rarely leave the house

Again, sometimes this is the case, but some people really do assume those of us living with a mental illness stare at the world through damn curtains. Give me a break. When I am well, I run through the woods, go to the movies and enjoy sushi like the rest of the population.

3. We shuffle, drool, and laugh at weird things. Like trees and crosswalks and milk containers.

Come on now, give us some credit--please! I might argue that those who laugh during awful movies have an undiagnosed mental illness.

4. We are generally unable to accomplish things in our lives

First of all, recovering from mental illness is a damn fine accomplishment. Working to find recovery, that's also an accomplishment. Many people with mental illness live lives that are full of accomplishment. My point? Our illness does not define our ability to succeed. Yes, it can complicate it, but we are not unable to achieve things in our lives and reach goals.

5. We are crazy

This one is sort of funny. Crazy is a silly word; it is as silly and ridiculous as the word 'normal.' We are not crazy. We are simply playing the cards we have been dealt the best we can (Being Crazy vs Mental Illness).

Ignore Mental Illness Stigma and Embrace Life

When you live with a mental illness, you often encounter negative stigma and misconceptions. Here are the top 5 stigmas irritate me. What are yours?Yes, those five stigmas follow me around. But, stigma is lessening. I need to point out that those who harbor negative and inaccurate beliefs are generally not educated on mental illness. And for every person who believes these things, I am certain there are more who do not (please, raise your hand).

I try to live my life with the attitude that if people have negative misconceptions I can either educate them or move along with my life (not shuffling, might I add). Recovering from mental illness is hard enough. Try to ignore uneducated, negative people who make it more difficult.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2013, April 1). Top 5 Irritating Stigmas About Living With a Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Katherine F.H. Heart
January, 23 2014 at 3:50 am

Way to go, well-said! As a person who has recovered from many years of chronic and severe PTSD, as well as major side-effects of overly-prescribed drugs, one of my recovery strategies was to start a small business built upon my greatest strength. It seems counter-intuitive, but starting small and growing slowly really worked. I set up a schedule and home office that accommodates my need for regular stress breaks and exercise, which are not billed to clients. This is an underutilized option and I think more people would feel hopeful about recovery and wellness if they could earn a living their own way...even on a difficult day. I share my story in the community, which helps to defeat stigma. Keep speaking out!!!

September, 16 2013 at 5:56 pm

"Stigma turned out to be the truly dangerous factor in my life. Not my illness."
This is great! It is especially hard to disentangle yourself from all of the negativity when you are first diagnosed. This should be splattered on every page of this website! Better yet, it should be tatooed on every ignorant person's forehead.

April, 7 2013 at 12:01 pm

As the mother of a 19 yr old daughter.. I can attest to the daily struggles both she and our family endure. Shes highly intelligent (tested genuis on many areas actually) shes been on every medication under the rainbow and has been under the care of our family physician, psychologist and psychoatrist for the past 11 yrs. She's has PDD (pervasive development disorder) and is currently being tested for Aspergers syndrome (shes had every other label and diagnosis from ADHD to chronic depression to Bi-polar disorder). Some days she functions extremely well.. Other days not well at all. Time will tell if she'll ever be able to hold down a job She IS a high school graduate (which she struggled and worked incredibly hard for) and does plan to go on to higher education
Mental issues is not a joke.. Nor is it a "lazy way out". Its very real and cant be beaten but many ARE able to work with it and live a somewhat *normal life*. This is all i can hope for with my daughter

dr Musli Ferati
April, 6 2013 at 11:52 pm

Anyway, mental health and mental illness consist of a continuum from totally lack of global life functionality to extreme life performances. These two limited points of personal accomplishments uses as ideally tendencies which ones hasn't any practical importance. The essence of mental health is to be enable to realize the main life demands, which ones understands to be personally, professionally and socially fulfillment. Indeed, the extend-point of life functionality determines the state of mental health. In this direction, your five observations on mental illnesses are of crucial importance in appropriate treatment and management of any mental disorder. The explanation of real nature of mental disorder indicates primary step in the long and hard process of recovering from mental illness. Therefore, it ought to unmask many misconception on mental illnesses, among which five above mention remarks exhibits a hopeful undertaking.

April, 6 2013 at 2:14 pm

I was more than able to manage depression, anxiety and PTSD at work. In fact, work helped me manage my illness. That is, until a new supervisor's negative attitudes about mental illness resulted in bullying tactics that caused a total mental breakdown. I'm out of work, unable to get medical insurance, and up to my ears in debt. Stigma turned out to be the truly dangerous factor in my life. Not my illness.

April, 6 2013 at 6:52 am

If you want support you have to do your part,take your meds,keep Dr. appointments.

April, 6 2013 at 6:50 am

I am a parent of a child with mental illness and the daughter of a mother who was mentally ill! I appreciate the fact that it is a challenging and difficult issue to deal with.The patient needs support but so do family members who are caught in the net.
I resent it when they use the illness as an excuse for being cruel or irresponsible.If you want respect then you have to earn it,making commitments and then not following through is bad enough but not telling people involved makes it very difficult and you undependable!

Tina Gordon
April, 3 2013 at 3:00 pm

Much as I completely agree with this (I cannot work at the moment, but completed my degree, have held down highly stressful jobs, have had relationships and am still bringing up my child, all whilst suffering with ptsd and anxiety, which unfortunately has caught up with me recently, hence being unable to work FOR THE MOMENT.... And sometimes I can't leave the house for days... I also occasionally laugh at weird things... However that is just my weird and quirky sense of humour and has nothing to do with my mental health issues!).... The thing that I had to read twice was chocolate lab, as I first read it as chocolate habit... Then I focused on having a chocolate laboratory, before my brain clicked it meant a dog! I think I might of overdosed on the Easter eggs!!
Brilliant article, once I'd moved past the chocolate obsession!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
April, 4 2013 at 6:26 am

Love your comment! Made me smile:)

Ernie Richards
April, 2 2013 at 10:41 am

A wonderful article and well written. There are times I feel like surrendering to the forces of stigma and my disease and becoming that drooling shuffling thing.
Yet when I read articles like this I am again inspired to continue in my recovery and stare down my bipolar so I can move on in life.
Thank you

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