Voices: Using Mindfulness to Break Free from the Shame of Mental Illness
A short while ago I opened an opportunity for people to send me stories of mindfulness that can show the rest of us how it has had a practical impact on a particular event or their lives. I’m calling this column of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, “Voices.”
A number of people wrote in with stories. If you have a story, continue to writing in and as long as there are good stories that teach the rest of us how mindfulness can work in our lives, I will choose from them from time to time to post on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.
Of course those that get chosen can also send me a link that I’ll include in the post where people can learn more about them.
I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and PTSD. Coming from an Indian background, there is a huge social stigma against mental disorders. I practically had to beg my parents for help, because they kept ignoring it. They were more worried about what society would think than my own well-being.
This brought up a lot of shame in me about having a mental illness.
I am overcoming that shame right now through being mindful of my thoughts, and how I shame and judge myself as a consequence of my childhood. I consciously create a positive statement about myself when I feel ashamed about having a mental illness. One affirmation that has been helpful is “I love and accept myself exactly as I am”.
Up until now I have been isolating because of my shame, but recently I went out and was able to talk about my mental illness and was accepted. I know that this is a reflection that I have accepted this part of myself. I have even blogged about shame as a form of healing on my blog, mindyourspirit.com. Being mindful of your thoughts and transforming anything that is against you into something positive is so powerful.
“Mental illness” has a tremendous stigma in almost all cultures and certainly more acutely in some as Parwathy points out in her story. The shame one feels about being deficient or unworthy in some way can be debilitating.
I think Parwathy is helping light the path toward greater self-acceptance. When we can look mindfully, putting aside our lenses of judgment and peering into our life with greater curiosity and love, we are sowing the seeds of healing. When we do this for ourselves, have no doubt, we are giving permission to the many people who are enslaved by that shame to begin lighting their own path.
Thank you Parwathy.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Photo by Tatiana Gerus, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
Goldstein, E. (2011). Voices: Using Mindfulness to Break Free from the Shame of Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2011/10/voices-using-mindfulness-to-break-free-from-the-shame-of-mental-illness/