We Know You Didn’t Mean to Add to the Stigma

When we share honestly, we open ourselves up to the risk of being judged.

I tell people that I prefer working from home on Mondays to avoid questions like, “how was your weekend?” For me, it’s the assumption that the person isn’t genuinely interested in my answers and the pressure to inquire about theirs out of courtesy.

Rushing into the office for a Monday morning meeting, I sank into the anti-ergonomic chair after seeing the cancellation notice on my Outlook calendar…

He: Hey! How was your weekend? *popped his head*

Me: Umm ya, it was good. I attended a workshop. Yours?

He: Workshop? What was it about? And mine was… well the usual, family BBQ. *shrugged*

Me: Oh, the weather was beautiful yesterday. I bet you guys had a great time! And um, the workshop was on suicide interventions.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Usually, this is when the person responds with…

  1. The Concerned Type: Are you okay? If you need to talk to someone, I’m available.
  2. The Confused Type: Oh um, that’s interesting. Very, um, different.

He: Oh oh, I see. What got you into that? *surprised but quickly composed his speech*

Me: Um, just… I’m really interested in mental health issues. I have personal experience with depression and suicide and so are those around me. *caught off guard by his question*

He: Actually, my roommate in college… he, um, was depressed and overate which made him even more depressed. *recounting sombrely*

Me: Oh, were you worried?

He: Yeah I was. He became suicidal and well, dropped out of school. I haven’t seen him for decades. Actually, I wonder how he’s doing… *pulled out his phone seemingly to type his friend’s name into Facebook search bar*

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The stigma is abolished when we open up.

When both sides lower their guards and choose to share, they connect honestly.

Many, however, would rather not risk the shame, insecurity and embarrassment, because the truth is many of us do judge. We prefer to separate ourselves from those who are “abnormal.”

Ultimately, the choice is yours to deepen the connection, or not.

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