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Dealing with fear and stigma

As a child, when I was growing up, I never really managed to deal with the stigma properly against– the stigma attached to mental illness. And, when I was walking down the street, and when I was hearing all these things and all these people talking about my mum, I didn’t know what to say to it because, as a kid, I’m not– I was still trying to understand what my mum’s illness was at the time. So, when I hear– before I even learned what schizophrenia and bipolar was, the only way I learned what schizophrenia and bipolar was from what other people were saying.
So they classed schizophrenia as being crazy, or they classed schizophrenia as not a mental illness but, oh, black magic because people just assume that mental illness doesn’t exist. And, dealing with the stigma, it was difficult for me because it wasn’t bullying. I don’t think I was bullied for it. But just the fact that you hear people gossiping is not something you want to grow up as a kid listening to. And the way I dealt with it was I avoided doing a lot of things. So, when people used to ask me to go out, I didn’t want to go out because I knew that I would be that kid who was classed as a child with a crazy mum.
So, for me, in terms of dealing with stigma was detaching myself away from society. And I don’t think I should have done that because everything that I could and would have been able to do, I just didn’t do it because I was scared that I would walk into a room and people would be like, oh, that’s her– she’s the girl with the mum that just got shipped off to hospital the other day. And, for me, avoiding all of that was how I dealt with the stigma, which I thought was bad because that’s how I did lose out on a childhood.
Whereas, now, in terms of dealing with the stigma, I find it so much easier because now I’ve learned to not care about what other people think. Because, at the end of the day, it’s your life. No one else is living your life for you. They’re not the one that are dealing with the illness in the house. They’re not the ones that are in your house. They don’t know what happens behind closed doors. So, why should I care about what other people say? And, at the end of the day, it is just gossip, you know?
You can walk out and say that you’re a child with a parent with a mental illness, yet they’ve got family issues at home as well that isn’t brought up upon. And I feel that I’ve just learned to realise that, a lot of people, they gossip mainly because they’re trying to cover up their own home issues and their own home truths. And they feel that, for them, gossiping about someone else is helping them deal with their own issues. So that’s how I learned to deal with the stigma is just not care about what other people are saying because they’re trying to find a way to make it easier for them.

Here we meet Ambeya, a young person living with a parent with a mental illness. She explains her experiences of dealing with the stigma surrounding her mum’s mental illness.

Please post your thoughts on this discussion point using the comments section.

  • What does Ambeya’s account help us to learn about how parental mental illness is stigmatised?

  • How did she choose to deal with the stigma?

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How To Support Young People Living with Parental Mental Illness

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