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Stigma and self-stigma of disability

Have you been a victim? Or have you contributed to your own stigma?

by AvantGarde » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:22 am

I was reading a blog on mental illness, and the writer brought on an interesting topic (I'm paraphrasing here) that is the idea that having a disability as a life-long condition, and that some people feel that being included in the "disability box", makes us somehow weak.

The actual fact is that those with mental illness sometimes are disabled to perform. Even those without mental illness have periods of not being able to be "able", either in relationships, school or work, due to a number of issues including mental and physical ailments.
This doesn't mean however, that we will be disabled forever. Some of us here were extremelly able before, and became incrisingly unable. Or, on the other hand, were extremelly disabled and were able to become able to work, study and have healthy relationships.

The transient and episodical aspect of bipolar makes it extremelly difficult, or even downright impossible, to predict when we'll be having disabled moments. But this does not mean we can't push through the troubles and engage in our wellbeing, being through therapy or working with our psychiatrists to tweak our meds. It does not, by any means, mean that we'll have a life long impossibility of ableness.

When we're manic we feel as though we can take on the world, multitask and do everything right, when that work sometimes is sloppy because our thoughts are a gazillion miles an hour. When we're depressed we can't move or have suicidal ideation, with our without the need to go to the hospital. This makes us feel like we not only are to blame for our ineffective ableness, and also like we aren't good enough for the world.

Unfortunately, society dwells on this a lot. In my own country, I was refused disability because I would eventually be okay. It's been 3 years and I'm still not completely able. Some societies thrive on work-work-work mentality, whether we're fit for it or not.

It's okay to accept that we're disabled sometimes. This does not by any means mean that we'll always be disabled. Just means that we need to work towards our wellbeing, and that notion, maybe because of society's mentality of work above all else, sometimes gets undervalued because we feel guilty that we can't perform when our lives seem to be falling apart.

It's okay to fall apart, it's okay to feel like we can't handle it sometimes. It's okay to rest. It's okay to take time out and regroup at the hospital (I'll post a sticker in front of me with that sentence, too).

/rant over.
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by Duckysmom » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:00 am

Wow! So concise, so relatable, so perfectly stated! I have no argument as I agree with everything you just stated.
"Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one."
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by AvantGarde » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:11 am

I forgot to mention that we have trully disabled members here, sorry if this post strikes a nerve :oops: For those of us with physical disabilities that can't actually work or perform in high stressful situations also because of bipolar but not only, I admire you a lot. You endure so much and you keep striving.

Edit: Thanks Ducky :) (try to rest now.. it's late there)
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by Stuckles » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:05 am

I found that really profound and couldn't agree more.

I find it really difficult to accept when family members say that they understand my situation "because you are disabled", not by the implication that the label has but by the fact that I can't see myself as such. There are those who are far worse off than myself and that rely on others a lot more for being able to do even the simplest of tasks.

Thanks for sharing that AvantGarde ;) And you are right, the "work work work" ethic is very problematic for those who can't perform within the 'rules' of the business world. One of the multiple reasons why my therapist wanted me to take a break from therapy is that I was getting flack from work about how much time I was taking off. At the time I was dealing with doctors visits to my TDoc, my Cardio in regards to my CTD diagnosis and my Neuro in regards to the issues I was having with what would later be identified as Palinopsia. Further down the road I still had issues with employers due to frequent doctor visits and the unpredictability of my productiveness.
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by james1992 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:53 am

Absolutely my biggest stigma has been self-stigma. In my worst state, I feel like a monster and a failure who isn't good at anything. When I try to think of a reason I allow myself to feel that way, the only one I can think of is that I use my illness as an excuse to be lazy, which degrades me even more.

At school I was avoiding my work as much as possible. Out of school I pursued a safe job at home instead of applying for a top job at a tech company (some of my classmates went to Google and Microsoft, I work at an insurance company for far less pay), and I haven't done anything to advance my career beyond a promotion from tech support to software developer trainee.

All this makes me feel miserable most of the time. It's like I'm flaying myself with a whip and I can't fucking put it down. :(

Had to get that rant out of my system. I'm curious to know what others think.
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by AvantGarde » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:05 am

I honestly don't know james, I haven't been one to pursue career in the capitalist system for far too long lol... So I'm maybe not the best to answer.

I want stability, financially and emotionally. That's all that matters to me. That does put me on another place to where I was before, where I didn't care for any of that. Crazy-homeless AG was better for me than pursuing-career AG. Nowadays I do want to do something satisfying, not for money or fame but for self fullfilment. If that means pursuing a career so be it. It's more important to be happy than to have a job at Google I suppose, not everyone that works at Google or Microsoft is happy working there. High stress environment, for instances, something we BP don't tolerate too well. So maybe there's an upside in working in a less stressful place. It's a matter of perspective really.

I don't think you use your disorder as an excuse to being lazy, maybe you're just not sure about your priorities.
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by Stuckles » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:56 am

AvantGarde wrote:I want stability, financially and emotionally. That's all that matters to me. ... Nowadays I do want to do something satisfying, not for money or fame but for self fullfilment. ... High stress environment, for instances, something we BP don't tolerate too well.


I feel exactly the same way AG.

James, I have to agree with what AG saying about the high stress nature of a IT career ... I've been there myself. Granted not every position is the same nor is every persons experience of it but that IT has a high level of stress is almost guarenteed.

On the other hand, if you are set on a Software Development career, you can't wait for your company to move you up the ranks just so you can start your training. Software Support and Development are two completely separate career tracks. You have to have a passion for Development and not just want to go into it for the "big bucks" it pays. Trust me, Developers get's paid what they get paid for very good reason. You have a huge amount of responsibility on your shoulders and the time you have to complete a project is usually already accelerated before you even start said project. Then comes the project creep where the project's deadline gets cut in half when your already halfway behind and not through any fault of your own. Add BP tendencies onto that and it can become a living nightmare.

You have to actively build your skills and understanding of it. Software Development is not one of "Learn a language and I'm set". Any Software Developer worth their salt will tell you that you Never stop learning. There's no "right" or "wrong" way to code so there are often ten ways to do the exact same thing and you have to determine which is more efficient and which is less efficient. There's no one who's always going to tell you "Do it this way" unless it's dictated by company policy.

Sorry, I didn't mean for it to sound like a lecture or scare you off or anything :P As I say, it can depend on a companies policies, size and product base. Keep in mind though that it is a reality that you might be facing.

P.S. Sorry if it's confusing or doesn't make a lot of sense but I'm having a hard time expressing my thoughts in a cohesive way on the subject so Please do ask any questions if anything is unclear.
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by james1992 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:57 am

Thanks for the thoughtful responses. :D

Hopefully I will be starting my training as a developer today. They had to roll out a project and didn't have time to train me and two other guys in my cube who are new as well.

Where I work is relaxed. People can even bring in earbuds and listen to music as long as they are doing their work. Also it seems like even when there's a big project, no one seems to be too tense so I don't think this will be a high-stress environment.

You might be right that a more high-tiered corporate position would be high-octane and have high potential to exacerbate symptoms, but I am always seeking upward mobility.

I don't like to brag about it (well...I do a little ;) ) but I am exceptionally intellgent. School came easy to me until symptoms started hitting in college. I scored high on aptitude tests and went to one of the best schools in the country. I was miserable doing it, so I don't want the effort I put into that go to waste. There's an internal urge to always compete and improve that I can't readily ignore.

Let me know your thoughts. When I am writing like this it can be a sign of mania, so sorry for the long blurb. Your advice as always is appreciated.
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by AvantGarde » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:05 am

I don't know if you're manic or not, doens't seem like it in your post. Nothing wrong in bragging about one's intelligence I suppose lol :) I do think intelligence is what we make of the smarts we have. One person who is not that smart can be extremelly intelligent when he uses the smarts he does have for his fullfilment, while another extremelly smart person might not be able to use their smarts in an intelligent way. This is not my idea, but one of a south american philosopher, I forget his name.

It all comes down to using your smarts in an intelligent way to accomplish what you want in life. There will always be set backs. Just don't run over anyone.
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by Stuckles » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:02 am

That's good to know, I was concerned for a moment as you mentioned having to be premoted before getting training :lol:

I tend to share my experience with others a lot and that's due to the fact that there is a very real culture of sharing knowledge among programmers and that goes both ways, not only sharing what you know but also the willingness to learn from others.

I know the feeling of wanting to compete and prove your self. I was a over achiever in that sense and climbed very quickly ... too quickly ... to a senior developer position. I know it's really hard to do but you have to maintain a balance. It's important to be ambitious but it's just as important to be able to maintain your pace. Take your time to hone your skills and the rest will come in time. As the first lead developer I worked under used to tell me ... "More speed, less haste"

I worked mostly in Corporate and yes, it can have a much greater responsibility and urgency as the back end systems I wrote in most every case was the actual life-blood of the company. Supporting systems that is not the core business of the company is easier to deal with although still has a lot of responsibility due to the fact that when the system grinds to a halt, it can hamper the core business.

Generally development departments have a relaxed policy towards starting hours, music and even dress code etc due to the nature of work and at times long work hours when the need arises ( It can get downright silly once in a blue moon when the team needs to blow off steam :P ).

There are most certainly periods where things are relaxed, it's when deadlines start looming or bugs start cropping up with irate customers shouting and screaming at tech support that things can become intense ... or even worse, your MD admits to your service provider that the company is writing it's own in house version of the software, nine months before completion :roll:

A programmer that tells you they can write code without bugs the first time out, is either a lier or is not a good programmer as they are not doing their own QC and even after that the testers would still come back to you and describe a bug as "I pointed my left pinky in the air, waved my right foot and clicked on that pixel and the program crashed" :lol:

One factor I learned early on, is the importance of communication with management. As little as 20% to even 10% of your work is actually visible to management, the rest is 'under the hood' which means that management has no tangeable results from months of work and it's not always that easy to communicate what your spending your time on even though you are working your backside off every minute your at work. It gets easier when you have a IT/Project Manager that has some knowledge in coding to act as a buffer/translator.

All of the best to you! It is a very rewarding career, and sorry if I sound like a broken record but so long as you maintain a balance.

I hope I haven't hi-jacked the thread too badly :lol:
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