Why is there shame attached to getting a mental health diagnosis

Jun 11, 2018

So often I get messages from people feeling really upset, embarrassed and ashamed, like their whole "self" is solely filled with shame, because they have just been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Then their sole focus becomes about how to hide this, so no one will ever find out...

I have a mental health disorder myself - complex PTSD, which comes with a ton of other labels like: depression, panic disorder, bulimia, attachment disorder, etc. My mental health disorder was my big secret for nearly a decade too.

So we end up suffering in isolation, stuck with that deep sense of loneliness and shame.

Today, I'm really curious as to why there is so much shame attached to having a mental health disorder. Actually I don't want to be just curious about it, I actually want to challenge and question this. It doesn't make sense to feel shame for this.

 Please let me explain :)

If a co-worker or a friend would find out that you suffer from migraines or have celiac disease or a hyper functioning thyroid, we wouldn't think much of it. People don't attach feelings of shame to those conditions. But if other people find out that you, for example, suffer from panic attacks or have OCD, flashbacks or PTSD, than that gigantic wave of shame washes over us.

However, those conditions are no different. We know today from science and medical imaging (like SPECT scans) that there are certain areas of the brain that are either working too hard or not hard enough (a bit like with thyroid disorders), and we also know that certain neurochemicals are present in our brain at either too high levels or too low. Those physiological changes in the brain are the reason why we, for example, act impulsive or why we can't stop thinking about a certain thought over and over or why we have those intrusive flashbacks.

So there's a physiological reason behind this.

Mental health disorders are not some form of weakness, or way of seeking attention. There is scientific evidence available to us today, to show that mental health disorders are a physiological condition just like any other condition out there.

 

So when are we stopping to attach feelings of shame to mental health disorders?

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well :) I'm always curious to know how you feel about those kind of things. The more we talk about it and spread the word the quicker we can bring about change :)

The important thing to keep in mind is that

our brain has tremendous capacity to change!

With the right medication, the right therapy, exercise, diet change, meditation, support network etc you can really change the way our brain functions and build new neuronal pathways. There might not be a cure for complex PTSD as such, but we can learn to manage our symptoms, so we can start dreaming about a better future for ourselves again.

Working on mental health symptoms takes courage, patience and determination. Take a moment to allow yourself to feel proud of all the hard work you do :)

 Until next time, lots and lots of love and rainbows to brighten up the tough times just a little.

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