Mental Health and the Stigma

Mental Health and the Stigma attached is something that haunts many of us with a mental illness history. I am tired of being stigmatized because I have a mental illness. Society punishes me for “the sins of the father”(NKJ Bible, Exodus 34:6-7). I did not ask to be sexually abused as a child. I did not ask to have depression, anxiety, PTSD, and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) as a result of that abuse, but I do. So what can I do?

The Stigma of Mental Illness

First, learn some facts about mental illness and stigma. According to the Mental Health Commission three out of four people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma. Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labeled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

And according to NAMI’s Fact Sheet it further defines stigma and what it leads to which in the nutshell is discrimination:

  • What is Stigma?
    • An attempt to label a particular group of people as less worthy of respect than others.
    • A mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval that results in discrimination.
    • Not just a matter of using the wrong word or action – it’s about disrespect
  • What does Stigma have to do with Mental Illness?
  • Stigma leads to …
    • Inadequate insurance coverage for mental health services
    • Fear, mistrust, and violence against people living with mental illness and their families
    • Family and friends turning their backs on people with mental illness
    • Prejudice and discrimination
  • Discrimination against people who have mental illnesses keeps them from seeking help.
    • While 1 in 5 Americans lives with a mental disorder, estimates indicate that nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, especially people from diverse communities. 
    • Lack of knowledge, fear of disclosure, rejection of friends, and discrimination are a few reasons why people with mental illness don’t seek help.
    • Discrimination against people with mental illness violates their rights and denies them opportunities. Despite Civil Rights Law such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with mental illnesses often experience discrimination in the workplace, education, housing, and healthcare.

So What Do We Do?

What do we do about the stigma of mental illness? How do we fight against the discrimination in health insurance, housing, and the job market?

  1. Don’t take it personally. If someone’s ignorance and lack of knowledge is evident by their language and conversation, the worst thing you can do is react defensively. This empowers the other person’s words and assumes you are threatened by their response. It suggests there is some truth in what they say.
  2. Educate yourself with some statistics about mental illness. According to Psych Central:
    • One million people die from suicide around the globe. Over 30,000 people worldwide suffer from depression.
    • Suicide takes more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, and AIDS.
    • Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.
    • 90 percent of people won’t get adequate treatment.
    • 80 percent would rather live with pain than do something about it.
  3. Own your story. Your story is the only one you own. You can tell your own experiences and story about how you are being helped. Those listening can’t disagree because it’s your story, not theirs.
  4. Stick to science and genetics. Nothing fights ignorance like the use of physiologic terms and neurobiology when speaking about your illness. Don’t forget to throw in genetics and how this affects my illness and mood disorders and the predisposition of your illness related to specific genes.
  5. And last, walk away. If the conversation frustrates you and the other person’s ignorance continues, you can either walk away and repeat…Don’t take it personally.

So now armed with information to fight those that insist on treating us with prejudice and ignorance. I can stand up for myself with dignity and educate those who insist on attaching a stigma to my name and my illness. So can you. Are your ready to stand up and fight?

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”Susan_Langer1″ remove_hidden_hashtags=”true”]Can you stand up and educate those who attach #stigma to mental illness?[/tweetthis]

See you next blog,



Quotes on Caring – Tuesday at Ten: {Caring} 7/6/16

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Quotes on CARING

I wasn’t much in the mood to write tonight so I thought I would show some quotes on caring from the internet. It is such an important part of our character to be caring toward others. We start learning to care while children, taught by our parents and teachers. As we grow older, we learn from other adults that we come in contact with and other children as well. If we are lucky enough to have a pet or two, we can act caring towards that dog or cat or guinea pig while playing and caring for them. 

Anyway, I thought the quotes that I found on caring said it much better than I could.


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Why Is Meditation So Hard? 7/2/16


Why is meditation so hard? Do you have difficulty with “traditional meditation” that asks you to sit still, usually in a cross-legged position with your eyes closed for minutes on end and empty your mind of thoughts? Or you can watch your thoughts float by but not engage them. Of course, we have all heard about the benefits of meditation such as reducing stress and improving overall well-being. Studies have shown how effectively it lowers blood pressure and works with pain management.

I am good at meditation most times but I have my days when I just can’t sit still long enough to relax and meditate. Those can be days when my chronic pain is higher or my anxiety is higher or my depression is exaggerated so I have more difficulty concentrating and relaxing. Yet, meditation helps all three of those problems so to not meditate at those times makes for negative outcomes for me. What do I do?

There are several alternatives to traditional meditation that can help you receive the same effects without the need to sit in a specific position and meditate for a specific time limit. That is what I want to discuss with you today.



When you just can’t sit still, a walking meditation is a good choice. You don’t need special equipment. All you need is a path, sidewalk, or treadmill. Just choose the time and place. As you walk, let any thoughts pass through your mind like clouds floating by. Pay attention or be mindful of your body and really get in touch with its movements.

Notice how your feet feel as they touch the ground. Pay attention to your hips moving and your arms swaying as you walk. See if you can break down and experience every bodily sensation as you walk.

As you focus on your body, you get out of your head and give your mind a chance to be still.



Swimming is a natural moving meditation. As you swim, you have a natural rhythm of focus and breathing. You focus on your breath because if you don’t, you drown. But once you have your rhythm established, it is like you and the water are doing a dance.

The repetitiveness of swimming is the meditative part of the exercise. Your movement of your arms along with the rhythmic breathing as you move release you mind from thinking of anything else except the swim.

Any demanding repetitive exercise that requires extreme focus can have meditative properties, including running and cycling.  



Tai Chi and Qigong are other types of moving meditation. They help you build awareness and mindfulness. Movement, breath, focus, and healing are all involved. These are also great choices if you find sitting meditation boring or difficult.

While both are mind-body practices they have slight differences:

  • Tai chi is a martial art and is moving meditation. It is low impact, aerobic, and requires weight bearing. It improves balance, strength, and energy flow in your body.
  • Qigong also involves movement but also focuses on training your mind to send energy or chi to specific areas of your body.

Either way, both practices have easy moves you can learn and use in lieu of traditional meditation.



Affirmations are positive statements about you or the world around you. You can listen to them from a recording or you can read them. They’re another good alternative to traditional meditation and bring more positive energy and confidence into your life.

There are many audios, videos, and books /ebooks resources available with affirmations. Just use a search engine such as Google or Bing. 



Another interesting alternative to traditional meditation isArt Meditation. You don’t have to be an artist with artistic ability to do it. Today, you can grab an adult coloring book and some crayons or pencils and you’re ready.

Coloring is a seemingly mindless activity that engages your attention and keeps your mind focus on the activity at hand. You end up concentrating on filling in the colors. Essentially that is what meditation is…focus.

Other art forms and crafts count too. Drawing, painting, pottery and sculpting all work. So does knitting and crocheting. Or even getting lost in doodling can be a form of meditation.



Last on my list is Partner Meditation. Meditation does not have to be a solitary activity. There are many of the above activities that you can do with a friend. There is also an article that gives three Partner meditation exercises including the “I Am Aware exercise” at Partner meditation exercises.


The next time you seem unable to do your meditation in traditional style for whatever the reason, give one of these suggestions a try. You may find that you like them for a change of pace or for those times when you just can’t sit still. Keep meditating, though.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”Susan_Langer1″ remove_hidden_hashtags=”true”]Why is #meditation so hard? Having difficulty? Try these instead.[/tweetthis]









Surviving Depression 6/27/16

 Surviving Depression

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 I am chronically depressed and tonight I share about surviving depression. I have a history of mental illness. It began as a child and of sexual abuse from age 4-12. My father was the perpetrator. He has long since passed away in 1998, but was still alive when I went into counseling in the 80’s. My doctor’s name is Dr.Jane Stoermer and she is an excellent psychologist. Originally, I started counseling for depression and marital problems. But while in counseling, I became aware of memories long buried from my childhood.

My memories were blocked before the age of 12 but I had made up an imaginary history to cover with my friends and teachers until adulthood. I told my “story” for so long that I believed it to be true. While seeing Jane, my real memories from  my childhood started to return as flashbacks and dreams. Long story short, Jane and I discovered that I was sexually abused as a child and had DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder. This is often called Multiple Personality Disorder by the lay public and is commonly known by people from the famous 1976 film, “Sybil”, starring Sally Field. 

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