Recently I introduced the ‘And Ironically…’ feature on this blog. It was by design meant to be light-hearted but used to point out ironical facts in life and especially in respect of Mental Health and Mental Illness.
Today’s fact is not meant to be so light-hearted and indeed is more tragic than it is ironic although there is indeed some irony here.
Stigma sadly still exists in the world today and sadly many mental health conditions and sufferers of mental illness in it’s various forms face this stigma on an almost daily basis.
Do a search for mental health related blogs and see how many of them are written anonymously and then consider why these eloquent, passionate and inspiring bloggers feel the need to blog anonymously if you don’t believe me.
Or, if you need further convincing, do a web search for “Stigma definition” and depending on your browser it is quite possible that you will turn up a similar to the one I captured here in this screen shot…
Notice, if you will, the last five words of item one of that definition “the stigma of mental disorder“. Yes sadly, I think you would be hard pressed to argue that mental illness does not still all too often have a stigma attached to it.
And as a person who suffers with several different mental illnesses and who constantly fights against self-harming I personally believe you would be even harder pressed to convince me that there are very many mental health disorders/conditions which have as much stigma attached to them as that of self-harming.
Those of us who struggle with Self-Harm are constantly thrown into internally and externally created or induced guilt, shame, and disgrace. But whilst the internal dialogue is understandable the externally created or induced; guilt, shame, and disgrace, is not. And it is so damaging and so unhealthy.
And what is ironically tragic about it? Well let’s consider the history of the word stigma…
The word came to be known in the 1590s as ‘marks made on the skin by burning with a hot iron‘ and latterly ‘to mark or puncture especially with a pointed instrument‘ and was taken from the Latin word ‘Stigma‘.
It was linked to the word ‘Stigmata‘ from the Greek ‘stigmatos‘ a reference to the beautiful, precious, and yet tragic and cruel marks suffered by our Lord.
In terms of the ‘disgrace’, this is specific to the aforementioned stigmata link and derives from that although mankind tried to disgrace Him, he deserved no such disgrace and thus comes the realization that for mankind to have marked or scarred the body of Christ was indeed in itself an incredibly disgraceful act.
For devout followers to be ‘blessed’ (according to religious beliefs) with ‘stigmata’ (the supernatural showing of those marks and scars Christ himself was made to bear) was interpreted and their sharing in His sufferings and in that disgrace. And it is here that we get the word ‘stigma’ as a mark of ‘disgrace’.
But of course, as I mentioned above, the disgrace was not Christ’s – who bore the marks, but belonged to those who caused and made those marks upon His person.
And here’s the tragic and undeniable truth about any person who seeks to attach stigma to those who battle with self-harming or those who suffer from any form of mental illness.
That disgrace, that undeniable tragic disgrace which you are trying to apply to others, belongs not to that person or those people you are targeting but to you.
And if that is not ironic, then I don’t know what is!