Embarrassment is emotional discomfort, not physical pain. Many years ago I made the mistake of hiding my wife’s illness and did not speak out or become involved because I was embarrassed. I realize now how stupid that was. Having now become totally open and involved with my daughter's illness I can see the benefits of not allowing the fear of embarrassment to shut me down. Now I am no longer embarrassed about having mental illness in the family, and will talk to anyone without feeling shame.
There was a time when my ego and the concern that people would think less of me, stopped me from seeing the truth. I did not see that I needed help, but the truth was, I did. I was becoming irritable, angry and was not nice to be around. I changed this by attending support meetings, something that I had never previously considered. I had erroneously thought it was a sign of weakness to admit to needing help. My life immediately improved. I became a little humbled when I found that others, who had similar experiences, could and would share what they had learned to help me. Mental illness is a great leveler and we can all learn from people who share similar issues. Instead of being a sign of weakness it was smart thinking.
Discrimination is unconstitutional and is very hurtful to people who are discriminated against. My daughter constantly felt she was being discriminated against because of her mental illness. In today’s society, it is still quite common for people with mental illness to be discriminated against, I have personally seen this in action. Many people avoid mentioning they have a mental illness because they fear employers will judge them, and not hire them. My daughter is very sensitive to being treated differently just because she has a mental illness: It hurts her self-esteem.
Dignity is an inherent sense of value and worth that I believe is a building block of self-esteem. We all need to be given acknowledgment of our worth and be given the ability to make choices so that we feel respected. This is important to make us feel our life is worthwhile. My daughter explained to me one day that she was tired of people looking down at her and treating her as though she was stupid. She felt that her dignity was being stripped from her. All she wanted was for people to acknowledge her as a valued human being and listen to her instead of just telling her what to do. She wanted to let people know that just because she has a mental illness it does not mean she is mentally deficient or retarded.