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!
"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