This is mental health week and I have seen many posts on social media urging people to speak up to help end the stigma around mental illness. I am now an official member of two stigmatized groups. Not only do I have a diagnosis of one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses, BPD, I am also a transgender woman.
I will not pretend I do not understand the stigma. I will not agree with it or condone it, though.
One year ago I would not have publicly identified as either mentally ill or trans. I had just accepted for myself that I was trans, I was not ready to let anyone else know. I accepted and even admired trans people I knew, but now this was me and that was different. I thought it was a horrible thing for me and I would never be accepted.
I realize now that although I could sincerely accept others, there was still judgement and stigma buried within me. It was something that was ok for others but not me. I would never be “like that.” I was good at fooling myself because that had been me for years though.
My mental health diagnosis were the same way. They are much newer and I am still having trouble accepting them some days.
I do not define myself by my gender or my illnesses. They are part of me, neither was a choice that I woke up one day and decided to try on. Neither tells my whole story though.
Yes, I understand stigma. Want to or not, I looked at people just like me as different. Different is not bad though. We are all different. A mental illness does not tell a persons whole story, whoever they are. Gender does not tell a persons whole story either. Get to know the person, not the labels. You may be surprised what you can learn. If I would have done a better job of that I may have accepted myself years earlier.