“Out in the Milkweed” & Stigmama

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Happy Friday My Blogging Friends!

I wrote this piece “Out in the Milkweed” for the cutting-edge, award-winning website/blog STIGMAMA.

STIGMAMA’s tagline is “Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud.”  I loved it as soon as I read that.  I started writing for Stigmama just after its inception in March, 2014.  STIGMAMA was founded by Dr. Walker Karraa, a trailblazer whose new book “”Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth”, is an Amazon bestseller receiving rave reviews.  Last year I asked Dr. Karraa if she’d write the foreword to my upcoming (i.e. by the time I’m 90) book “Birth of a New Brain” – I was deeply honored when she said yes.

STIGMAMA has showcased the work of 70 talented contributors, giving writers a chance to shine (some for the first time) in a public arena writing about deeply personal experiences.  The STIGMAMA page has over 15,000 likes!  Not bad for a blog that’s less than a year old!

Perhaps you’d like to be a STIGMAMA contributor too – visit http://www.stigmama.com and check out the 2015 writing schedule for details.

This free verse (very free! 😉 piece “Out in the Milkweed” expresses how I’ve felt stigmatized by those who see me as mentally ill despite the fact that I’ve been stable for quite some time.  While it’s obvious that I’m very angry about this situation, I believe there’s hope for some healing.  It will take time.  For those of us who are adversely affected by stigma, we can practice vigilant self-care, stay current on research, and do all that we can to become and remain stable.

In turn, we can once again have conversations with our loved ones about stigma. Perhaps our family member or friend could attend a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) family member support group.  We can give them a handout or a book that includes how to be aware and sensitive about mental illness stigma.

Even if we can’t change the way others see us, we can focus on ourselves and work on our self-stigmatizing issues, either by ourselves or with a trusted friend or therapist. If you have any suggestions about this topic, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for reading!

love,

Dyane


"Out in the Milkweed"

In some disturbing way that you would never openly admit
You want me to remain
Mentally ill, labeled by the seven-letter word bipolar
You prefer me to fit neatly in a suffocating cocoon
From which I can never fully emerge
As the soaring, vibrant Monarch butterfly that I once was

If I speak with “normal” cadence and joy
You scornfully say that I sound manic
Your words cut me deeper than you could ever imagine
And I shut down, hesitant to share myself with you again

I’m not manic, but you continue to see me in stifling ways
And no matter how high I soar within the realm of stability
You view me through shame-colored glasses

Why do you choose to see me as permanently damaged?
Could it be schadenfreude?
To make your own ravaged self esteem and depression not seem so bad?

I believe that you regard my brain as forever broken
due to ever-present stigma, insidiously affecting us all
I may even permeate your misconceptions by living fully
and throwing my own shame to the wind

Now that I’ve returned
To a life where I don’t stay in bed wanting to die
I can be a writer, a mother, a wife, a daughter
I can laugh, weep, and be present

I will research about what prevents relapse, and be proactive with 
self-care

After years of looking to others for biochemical salvation
It feels good taking care of myself

I don’t know what the future holds
But I’ll do everything I can to remain a butterfly
Hovering amongst milkweed drinking nectar
No longer in need of hermetic, protective coverings
It's time to fly, unencumbered, once again
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24 thoughts on ““Out in the Milkweed” & Stigmama

  1. I love the beauty here. You’re right–everybody gets so bloody needy for labels that the moment you DON’T fit a label, that’s a problem…for them, that is. Of course some labels take time to scrape off; I think this is understandable, so long as all parties share a WILLINGNESS to scrape it off in the first place. I’m coming to terms with this idea now; labels limit, and when we limit, we can’t move forward, neither as the limited or the limiter. No matter what the others do, we have to break ourselves free. We have to be the forgivers, the patient waiters. If others look upon that determined love in us and label it “manic,” then I think that says something about their view of the world…a very sad, dark view, indeed.

    1. I love your comment (that’s no surpise, ha ha!)

      Seriously, I’m heartened that you’re coming to terms with the concept of how labels limit ourselves and if we break ourselves free of them, the act can propel us into new (better) lives.

      I’ll admit that in one situation I find it near-impossible to be the forgiver and patient waiter, but if you can do it, I absoutely need to try and I’ll give it my best effort!!!!

      You inspire me once again, my friend. 💜
      and:
      ☕️
      Off to drink more….and more after that!

  2. so true! This is how my mom sees me… and possibly everyone that’s every been around me during a manic/depressive episode. It’s hard to recover from those darker moments, manic outbursts, moments of instability and irrational behavior. It is important to remember that those are just moments, they don’t define you. I think that that’s what we are asking others to do. To see those times as a moment and not as our worth.

    1. Adina, your Gravatar photo is stunningly beautiful! Thanks so much for commenting, and please forgive me for taking forever to write back! Wow – you totally understand where I’m coming from. I love how you frame the experience as being just moments. That helps me, and I’ll remember that. Hope you’re doing well, and thanks again for helping shift my perspective in a positive way. That’s priceless! 🙂

  3. Perhaps our family member or friend could attend a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) family member support group. We can give them a handout or a book that includes how to be aware and sensitive about mental illness stigma.

    Not unless NAMI has changed a lot in recent years.

    The NAMI I know gives lip service to destigmatisation of those with a psychiatric label, jumping up and down when people use words like ‘crazy’ or ‘nutcase’, but is actually one of the main promoters of even worse stigma.

    NAMI’s not really about those with mental illness, it’s about those who care for them. There is inevitably tension between the powers and rights of those two groups and NAMI always come down on the side of the carers. They’ve lobbied for stronger outpatient and civil commitment laws and consistently flog the furphy that mental illness is a life long condition. Once a nut, always a nut.

    In one of their most repugnant acts they teamed up with the appalling E Fuller Torrey to produce a leaflet advising how to get family members committed against their will. It included the tip that before calling police you should overturn some furniture and throw some food around so the cops would think the family member had just been on a rampage. That’s the sort of stigmatisation that can get people killed.

    1. Hello Lord of the Drool!

      Please forgive me for being tardy in my reply. I’ve been extra-lazy as of late. I was unaware of the leaflet that you refer to. That sounds horrible. My firsthand experience is only with our local Santa Cruz NAMI, and my experience is limited at that. I’ve been friends with the NAMI SCC president, who is a wonderful woman who lost her son to suicide. However, I haven’t been to the support group for consumers (there’s only one) or done any training, so I don’t have much knowledge to go on.

      My direct experience was working with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), in which I started a chapter for our county and ran support groups. I didn’t get trained in a class, which would have been really good, since I did pretty much everything I shouldn’t have done when starting up groups. I’m curious if you are familiar with them?

      Regards to those awfully cute bunnies of yours.
      Dy

  4. Beautiful. Fly, Dyane, fly. I know that you are speaking from painful experience and it devastates us when our normal emotional responses are dismissed as symptoms rather than listened to and respected.

    1. Here I am, finally getting back to you my friend. Today is not a “fly” day for me. It’s a “I’m so tired & groggy that I’m going to crawl….and be lazy.” sort of day. It did feel good to write of my pain; there is so much catharsis in blogging. To get insightful, empathic replies such as yours is the icing on the cake, or the chocolate gelato in my oversize mug!!!!! XO

    1. Hey there rockyromano – thanks for stopping by my blog, and for your kind words. It’s now just after the weekend, so I hope you had a good one!!! Sorry to be so late in getting back to you.
      Have a wonderful week!
      Dyane 🙂

      1. Thank you so much, Rocky – you made me smile! I try to post every Friday, so I hope you’ll stop by if you can. :))) take care, Dy

      2. Smile is good thing for our hearts and spirits..I feel glad to hear that. Sure..I will stop by to read your post, we enrich our spirits sharing our experiences sharing experiences, feelings and knowledge, In my free times, by the way, I do not have too many, I write, I am not professional writer..now I’m working on fiction short story, the message will be, Love, Sacrifice, Forgiveness and Courage. Thank you..blessing.
        Rocky

  5. Love it 🙂 and the blog is great too! Thank you!

    I would love to see a definition of “stable.” I think it means different things to different people. For me, staying out of the hospital is great!

    1. Sorry for my delay in replying to you! Thanks so much for writing…I know what you mean about “stable” – to be honest, whenever I hear that word in regard to mental illness stuff, I still think of horses!!! Ha ha!!!

      I’m right there with you that as long as I stay FAR far away from the hospital, I’m doing well. Here’s to stability in the very best sense to the word for us both! :))))

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