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    Dealing with Stigma

    If anyone has tips for dealing with severe stigma in a professional setting I'd love to hear them!

    As far as I can tell from what's going on at school, my associate dean has decided that I'm a liability after my mania last month. He is not an understanding or compassionate person when it comes to mental health. I really believe that he is trying to push me out, and everyone I've told the whole story to agrees with me. Too bad for him, I'm not leaving! But I'd love some tips for navigating the waters, if anyone has any!

    (I say a professional setting rather than academic because I'm in professional school - it's completely different from other programs - in a year and a half they'll call me doctor)
    Pressure makes diamonds....

    #2
    Hello Gossip.

    I'm sorry to hear that you're having to deal with this sort of thing. It seems like certain individuals have minds that are closed like a steel trap. I ran into some of it at my workplace a number of years ago. Some of them may simply be uninformed, uninterested, or even unable to fathom the concept of mental illness. Others seem to be purely obstinate and mean. I learned, to a degree, which was which.

    I gave up on reasoning with those I was getting nowhere with, and called on those who "got it" to support me in "navigating the waters". For example, I tried to have one of them around if I had to deal with a bullheaded bully of a boss, or an ignorant -- in every sense of the word -- supervisor. In other words, I learned to pick my battles, and concentrate on those I had the best chance of winning.

    And when there was a surprise "teachable moment" when something came up in the coffee room, I'd share a little bit - just a bit - about my personal struggle, then move on with a bit of humour. I don't know if it made much difference in educating anybody, but I felt better for trying.

    When I read your words "Too bad for him, I'm not leaving!" I feel like shouting "Yay!" The fight against stigma is ongoing, and you're still in the game, as am I and the rest of the forum members. I figure that keeping myself as healthy as I can manage is the best way to combat it. And call in whatever troops needed when I can't do it alone.
    uni

    ~ it's always worth it ~

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      #3
      Thanks uni! Part of the problem is that I've lost my support people at school. I shared a bit about what happened in the resurfacing thread. So I'm on my own with this one. I'm still not clear on what I said or did (I have asked but he won't tell me), but what's happened can't be undone and it was this same associate dean who blew up the situation. He's definitely not someone I'm going to share my struggle with, teachable moment or not! But you've given me some tips that I'll definitely be trying to use. Again, thank you!
      Pressure makes diamonds....

      Comment


        #4
        Here's a fun update... I had a chat yesterday with a friend high up in CREST.BD. For those not familiar with them, they're a bipolar research/education/advocacy group associated with UBC. She is also a professor of psychiatry at the university, and has a far better idea of my rights in this situation than I do. She is thinking that the associate dean may have actually broken disability law by cutting off my support and refusing to tell me what I'm being punished for. I'd also sent my disability resource coordinator a very general question about who I should talk to if I feel like I'm being targeted for my condition. Both of them have told me that I should probably escalate this to the Student Ombuds office. I was initially scared of reprisal from him, but they're totally confidential with no obligation to enact their recommendations. I'm writing finals right now, but once my schedule calms down a bit I think I'm going to have a chat with them and see what they say. I'm living well and succeeding in one of the most competitive programs out there with bipolar I with psychosis... I need to remind myself that I've already slain far bigger dragons than any administrator!
        Pressure makes diamonds....

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          #5
          I'm here in the cheering section for you Gossip. I have no doubt that you're up to the challenge.
          AJ

          Humans punish themselves endlessly
          for not being what they believe they should be.
          -Don Miguel Ruiz-

          Comment


            #6
            Good luck with your finals Gossip! You are an inspiration!

            Comment


              #7
              Thank you both! I don't feel like an inspiration (though you're not the first person to say that), I think I'm just pathologically stubborn, but whatever it is, it seems to be working!

              I'll let you know how it goes.
              Pressure makes diamonds....

              Comment


                #8
                Yes please do.
                AJ

                Humans punish themselves endlessly
                for not being what they believe they should be.
                -Don Miguel Ruiz-

                Comment


                  #9
                  Well, I sent in the booking form to the Ombuds office and emailed with my choice of appointment date. We aren't on main campus, but there's a day in January that I have to be there for another appointment so I'm hoping to stack them both into the same trip. I was very careful in my wording on the initial form (obviously I have a lot of experience with that) just saying that there were factors in the situation making me wonder whether there were some preconceptions at play. It's one of those... I think of them as bipolar life skills... that's useful, but I wish I hadn't had to learn the way I did. I know that nothing will happen until after the holidays, but at least I've started the process.
                  Pressure makes diamonds....

                  Comment


                    #10
                    That must feel good to start the process. Good for you for standing up for your rights.
                    AJ

                    Humans punish themselves endlessly
                    for not being what they believe they should be.
                    -Don Miguel Ruiz-

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks AJ, and yes, it feels great. The more I'm thinking the more I'm coming to some conclusions about the situation that I don't like. At this point my attitude is that he's pissed off the wrong crazy person (sorry to anyone offended by that, but let's be honest, I was hallucinating 2 months ago - I'd never generalize that thought to anyone else!)... I'm stubborn as hell and nobody at this school has ever seen me angry. He doesn't know what's coming.
                      Pressure makes diamonds....

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                        #12
                        The only person at school who I thought would support me has made it clear that she does not. Well... I guess I know where I stand now.
                        Pressure makes diamonds....

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Hello Gossip. Good for you for standing up for your rights. It's always sad to lose someone who you thought would support you. Take Care. paul m
                          "Alone we can do so little;
                          Together we can do so much"
                          Helen Keller

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                            #14
                            The Ombuds (yes, my school is politically correct to the point that they've officially dropped the "man" from ombudsman) contacted me himself late on the 23rd, apologizing for the online booking system being down and offering me a choice of times on the date I'd requested. My appointment is officially booked and confirmed for that morning. It's the same morning I'm seeing my disability advisor, and I have a psychiatrist appointment that afternoon, so I'm thinking I'm apparently skipping that day entirely (I'd be able to be in class for literally part of one lecture) but I think these are all pretty compelling reasons. I'm glad it's early in the semester so I definitely won't be missing any exams or anything though! I'll continue to keep you posted.
                            Pressure makes diamonds....

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I hope your appointments go well.
                              AJ

                              Humans punish themselves endlessly
                              for not being what they believe they should be.
                              -Don Miguel Ruiz-

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