Stigma is a Red Herring-Let’s Turn and Face the Real Enemy


If you read nothing else I write. Read. This.


Fighting Stigma is noble and necessary but it is not the Real issue

It is AN issue

But not THE issue

Stigma is in the minds of people

Stigma is not an action

And we need action

Even “ending” Stigma doesn’t really help us out if it isn’t accompanied by action

Our battle cry should not just be Stigma

It should be


We need to start demanding Equality

Most specifically Equality in Healthcare but also in the workplace and in the Law

Because we are not treated Equally when it comes to Healthcare

We are not

In fact we are SEPARATED into a whole other category

Our illnesses not fit to be included in the Normal Healthcare System

Our serious chronic illnesses are relegated to the “Behavioral Health” sections

And anyone who has spent two minutes on the phone with an Insurance Company can see that there is a blaring difference.

A blaring inequality

But we are a captive population REQUIRED to use these services

They have us

We can’t get away

And so there is no real motivation on the part of these companies and doctors

To provide more than what is minimally essential

And the “better” doctors who know they are providing something more…. can then feel justisfied in not participating with Insurance Companies and in charging exorbitant fees.

Fees which prohibit most people from using their services

Only a small percentage of the people in this country have hundred of dollars lying in their pockets….


Psychiatrists in my area who do not accept insurance charge 235 dollars for 30 mins. (and insurance companies have thousands of dollars worth of deductables..and then will pay MAYbe 60%.)


But it seems that these docs are ok with it because they think they are worth it…

And they are ok with it because if you can’t afford it you can just go find yourself a doc that takes your insurance

Which often means cold calling names on a list that provides no other information….usually when in crisis as that is when we seek the help

It basically ALWAYS means very long wait times for a first appointment…even in emergency situations…

And what do they tell you when they are booked solid and can’t see you for months and you say….

“But I don’t know that I can make it that long”

they say that pat answer

the words so routine to them

that party line

the line that absolves them from the Hippocratic oath because they know there is a bottom rung that catches people…..

they say

“If this is an emergency go to the ER”

and that is it

That is what we get




Sometimes it truly feels like there is no Hippocratic Oath in Psychiatry

Let’s not forget that there is a huge population of people without access to any services

and all of this leads to

Families torn apart

Jobs lost

Careers ruined

People hurt


Lives lost

Because of the lack of access to care…quality care


way too many of us ARE receiving care….

and STILL don’t have access to Quality care

Psychiatry needs to STEP UP

And insurance companies need to STOP playing God with people’s lives….deciding who gets to live and who gets to die…who gets help…and who gets to suffer…

And you know what…because of the immense imbedded conscious and unconscious stigma and discrimination towards the Mentally Ill….

We are always going to be on the die and suffer end of that stick

But we shouldn’t have to Fight Stigma in order to get better treatment…

In order to be included in the REAL medical establishment

We should be fighting for EQUALITY

EQUAL treatment

This IS NOT about Stigma


And it is not acceptable to have a system that is


Did women end Stigma before demanding equality…?

Did the Gays end Stigma before demanding equality…?

Did People of Color have a Fight Stigma campaign before demanding Equality?


At least not in the way we do…


What IS THE POINT of people thinking we are not shameful awful people…

If we still have no rights ?

No voice

No power

If we still aren’t protected by healthcare and by the law….



I am not saying we shouldn’t “fight” it

I am not saying it wouldn’t help everything if we could end it…lessen it

I am not saying that work is pointless

It is SO necessary

Let’s keep fighting it with everything we have

But let’s not let it distract us from the TRUE fight….from what we TRULY need to be doing

Because seriously…let’s face it…

We are not going to “end” stigma…

Not in our life time

This is such a deeply imbedded complex issue

And these isms are NOT eradicated…that just isn’t the way it works

Racism and homophobia and misogyny and every other ism are RAMPANT

And these are battles that have been fought for decades and decades and decades


I am afraid to alienate everyone with this

I am afraid because so many people in this community have put a lot of themselves into fighting Stigma…

Just take a turn around Bipolar Twitter world or Bipolar Blog world for a moment and you will see everyone saying they are fighting Stigma…committed to ending stigma….

They have put themselves and their work into books, articles, organizations, blogs…


About Stigma


I am sick and tired of the mistreatment of and the discrimination towards the people I call my community

And I keep listening to the Stigma battle cry and watching everyone charge towards it while the real enemy continues to attack and attack……

And attack

So on my little blog

With my little voice

I want to urge every single one of you who are out there dedicating so much of yourself to Fighting Stigma

to turn and face the real enemy…

Separate and UNequal

That is what we are

This is a CIVIL RIGHTS movement











Add Yours
  1. dyane

    You won’t alienate anyone who has a heart and a brain with this truth!!!!!!

    As you know, the cause I’m most passionate about is to get perinatal mental health professionals to wake the fuck up and simply start with acknowledging that my form of bipolar disorder, peripartum, EXISTS and (most importantly) it can be minimized with just a 45-second conversation with the pregnant woman about her mental history and family mental health history before her baby is born, (!!!!)

    I had someone affiliated with Bipolar UK blow me off recently about my kind of bipolar disorder. He/she wasn’t even willing to discuss the info. I wanted to give them (from medical experts, no less) on their website or brochure!!!!


    I was furious. But I won’t give up. One person, one ignorant, patronizing person, can’t stop me.

    I retweeted your post immediately.
    Thank you Claya for speaking up, always, about the truth!

    If anyone alienates you….let me know. Xo


    • bipolarfirst

      Thank you Dyane,

      That makes me feel a little better about that part.

      I am sorry that you face all of that….

      it is always horrifying to realize the way that things REALLy are

      people don’t get the extent of the problem because supposedly there are Acts in place and all of that…

      but it doesn’t mean they are enforced or take seriously etc

      And yes of course Don’t Give Up

      but you don’t seem like a giving up kind of gal 😉


  2. Jess Melancholia

    As wonderful and inspiring as this is, I’ve sort of lost all motivation. Spent yesterday defeated and under the covers. Sorry. I know this doesn’t help. I’ll of course stand by you. This is hands down the best article you’ve ever written. Easily! I can feel the intensity in every word. Fantastic job girl!


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