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Combatting Shame and Stigma

Mar 14, 2018Depression, Introversion, Recovery, Shame

A few weeks ago, I found myself in bit of a pickle. Sam & I were planning a trip to see my family, but it meant we might have social-packed weekend commitments for a month straight.

In theory, this is cool. I spent most of my youth wanting to be popular & this seems like a popular person’s problem. “Too many people are requesting our presence. Whatever shall we do?” (In my head, I say this in a Southern accent while placing my hand on my forehead).

In practice, however, it’s less cool. I’m an introvert, which means I recharge by spending time alone. I’m also in recovery from depression, which means feeling depleted brings up fears of depression relapse for me. (There’s a theory that feeling states can activate past feeling states the same way smells can activate memories & I suspect that’s why.)

For me, saying “four social-packed weekends in a row with no time to recharge would be great!” would be like repeatedly ordering things I can’t afford & putting it all on a credit card. Perhaps enjoyable in the moment, but not so fun when the bill came due.

Which is where yesterday’s “my wealthy friend doesn’t look at prices on menus but I do” story came from.

I didn’t hesitate to tell my wealthy friend, “Of course I look at prices before I order!” I’m not ashamed of looking at prices. I think it’s a rather responsible thing to do.

However, I do hesitate to tell my family & friends, “I don’t know that I can take this all on.” Because I AM ashamed of not being able to take it all on. Or at least I have been for most of my life.

There’s a lot of stigma attached to mental health conditions. And most of us who struggle aren’t very kind to ourselves. Instead of thinking, “It’s rather responsible of me to speak up about what I can afford mental-health-wise,” we think, “It’s rather weak of me to not be a better human.”

No mo’.

Are there people who can do things four weekends in a row without risking a downward spiral? Yep. There are also people who can order without looking at prices.

I’m not one of them. At least not today.

So I spoke up. I told shame to shove it & I used my voice.

What happened? I was met with nothing but support. Weird, huh?