love in the time of stigma

When you exist under clouds of stigma, it affects whether others can see you as a potential 'True Love', and it might also affect whether you could see yourself as ever deserving of 'love' at all. It might be tricky to uncover or untangle how the stigma affects others, and yourself.

It's one thing to avoid places in real life or online where people constantly express prejudices, and another to find you can't escape certain prejudices - anywhere. It's one thing to 'believe' in yourself no matter what anyone thinks or says, to challenge all negative input, and another to have to spend all your time doing so.

It's like I have to be constantly aware that my particular cooties are catching. I might harm or bring down anyone I have contact with. A person this 'unhealthy' and 'out of it' obviously couldn't be trusted to help people or care for animals, and is probably making them sick. If there's no realistic place to go for 'help', doesn't it make sense that suicide seems like the only 'decent' or 'responsible' thing to do?

When people are the victims of romance scams, perhaps it could be seen that at least the scammer is out of their life once they've wrangled enough cash, but GK has been stuck with me for years. Maybe that's worse, and maybe that's the kind of thing people should be worried about? To be fair to myself, I was honest about myself and my situation very early in our correspondence, but I don't think he really understood what it all meant. Should he be paying a price for that for the rest of his life?

I think this is one of the significant issues when it comes to 'mental health' and unconscious, or implicit rather than explicit beliefs about bias/prejudice and what stigma means:

-people who are depressed have negative or pessimistic thinking styles, are too wrapped up in themselves to see that other people have problems
-depressed people are not just boring, they sap the life or fun out of everything
-depressed people aren't interested enough in life to be able to contribute anything interesting to a conversation - their mental faculties have slowed to a halt, and they can't process complex conversations or ideas
-happiness is a skill that can be developed:
-you're weak, try harder, you need a kick in the pants, other people have it worse, you have nothing to complain about, get a hobby, cultivate friendships and family ties, get some exercise, bounce back in an appropriate amount of time
-those with eating disorders are vain, shallow, secretive, manipulative liars
-people who are paranoid are paranoid because they are liars
-no matter the obstacle, you can't keep people of quality down
-there's no point listening to anything a drunk says, whether drunk or sober, the person will be muddled, and has generally bad vibes - these people have no ability to face themselves or reality honestly, and don't care about anyone but themselves.
-people who don't leave their residences are scared, pathetic little mice

These are just a few of the 'commonsense' ideas floating around in the general public, and beyond. And while some people might not consciously think they believe these statements, do their actions and choices reflect this?

There's also the whole concept of money and if I actually 'deserve' any. The way things are arranged here relates me trying to make an effort to clarify the relationship: I am paid a 'salary', and in return I pay 'rent'. But do I do enough to earn that salary? I can list my various contributions over the years, but do I 'believe' in them? Do I believe there's any way to make up for all the years? When I 'buy' anything, whose money is it? Did I steal it? Am I just shuffling around stolen funds? Should I have turned down the inheritance from my grandfather? I didn't see him for years. The fact that I actually wondered about it and thought maybe I should turn it down I think shows what others in the family probably thought themselves. I am aware enough to realize this.

How many hours have I put in total into my website? How many hours of experience did it take? How much writing on a daily basis, again and again, until I learn how to clarify what I want to say? Is it 'work' if I don't get paid for it?

Australian society is based upon the principle of everyone having a 'fair go'. This is one of the things that confuse the issues when it comes to mental illness. Society itself reinforces the idea that when people succeed, it's because they have worked hard, and deserve to succeed. People's self-esteem is based in large part on this 'deserving'. Those who have less, those who take handouts or 'help' haven't tried as hard, have no one else to blame but themselves, are too pessimistic, have negative thinking styles, poor impulse control. People in poorer parts of the world could either get out of their situations if they tried, or are all part of some bigger plan. Everything happens for a reason.

If you hear these messages often enough it becomes quite clear that it either takes someone able to overlook reality to overcome them, or that it takes a lot of energy on a daily basis to continue to accept yourself. It also becomes quite clear that the people you are closest to are also taking in these messages, and are affected by them, and probably don't have as much personal stake in challenging them.

My experience is that it's kind of a given that I'm seen as defective, or 'loved' in spite of me being a dud. I'm not seen as something alternative, but equal. And when it comes to long-term relationships, it becomes evident that when I am communicating one-on-one, the other person understands what I'm saying or seems to, but that this doesn't hold up when the person is faced with peer pressure: their family and friends, colleagues, and when it came to my first long-term partner, even my family seemed to believe my ex had dodged a bullet in getting rid of me.

And the thing is that I myself will see the 'greater good' argument, and it seems sound. My ex was better off keeping my family and their friends as part of his network, they had more in common, and I don't really want to live. And, rather than try to pipe up about how I had been honest with him, while he was not honest with me, and that they had a mistaken idea about a lot of things.. it seemed kind of a bad idea, against the greater good to possibly explain this and have them think less of him. And when it comes to GK, again I have been here too long living off his charity, he has more potential to create an authentic network, and it makes more sense for him to keep the possums - not only are they part of his support network, but someone like me who is 'not healthy' can't possibly be good for anyone, human or animal.

The mentally ill or isolated need networks, connection, interaction, but who wants to be around them? Isn't it better for everyone that I remove myself? Aren't I an embarrassment to anyone I know, or to any potential people I could know? How can I be explained? What do I do? And it seems that the best I could do would be to remove some of the embarrassment by removing my site from the internet. Then everyone I know stands a better chance. I don't taint them.

A psychiatrist years ago seemed relieved when I expressed that I did not want to have kids. When I moved to Australia, the immigration lawyer looked at GK and told him that there are a lot of horrible women out there who will marry a guy for a visa, and then take all his money - and he said this right in my presence. At the wedding, a friend of GK's did not speak up about any objections, but 'sent me a message' by shaking my hand in such a way as to try to crush the bones (I do not have a wimpy handshake, and I can tell the difference between an accident and intent). And during the visa process, although 'legally', supposedly my psychiatric history was not a problem, in reality, it was a different story. I learned that I was one of the world's 'troubled and dispossessed' that Australia did not want to take on. The whole visa process was an extremely disheartening experience in which I learned that the only way to get into this country was to lie, lie, lie, because I was an undesirable.

And from there, there's all this worry about other people I might affect/infect. If I confide in a doctor, does that put her at legal risk, considering the lies I told to get a visa? If I participate in public discussion groups, will my 'negativity' or 'alternative views' bring down the morale of the group, and is it in everyone's best interest that I leave? If I want to write a long email to someone discussing my views in a detailed way, should I always be worried that somehow I am imposing on that person?

Some issues are minor, but when they accumulate, when everywhere you go there is bound to be an uncomfortable or awkward explanation as to why I don't have the usual answers to things and when I don't want to have readymade lies to make it all easier and to reaffirm to myself that I am not accepted for me, but only if I can create an illusion.. It takes a lot of energy.

Why not put energy into getting training, a job, developing interests, joining groups? Because all of these things require contact with people where my background matters and frames the development of the interaction. It affects how everything I communicate is interpreted. And I know people are brainwashed to say oh no, it must be your attitude, the way you are projecting what you are saying. I look people in the eye and I enunciate clearly, but they do not hear me. They do not see me. People can't seem to get out of the headspace that life is fair or that if you will only master certain techniques, there's no way you can 'fail'. They just haven't factored in that in some circumstances, even if you do everything 'right', you can't get past the stigma.

I have the added problem that it's not authentic for me to say that I want to live or build a network or have a career. Or 'give back' - in the sense that Australians like to repeat. That is part of how I define my depression. Being on the outside of life observing for so long, life looks empty, careers look empty, relationships look empty, ideas about responsibility and owing look empty. On my website, I have tried to lay the groundwork to explain this. I have tried to point out what I need to talk about, what acknowledgments I need, what needs to be addressed if there's even a chance I can get past all this or move to some other level. Medication is not going to do it. There is something at the very core or foundation that must be addressed.

I don't expect it to be addressed, but I would like to find someone who understands or can see what I'm saying. Someone who doesn't think it's nothing, and who can see why I can't move on. And then I think I would find it easier to deal with all the other messages listed above.

Everything a person says is filtered through others' perception of that person's standing and place in society. You need to constantly provide 'passports' or 'visas' to show you have a right to an opinion - or at least it affects the weight your opinion is given. If you're an 'overweight' woman over 40, you can expect that if you try to have a discussion about ageism, sexism, or weight, many people will dismiss your right to have an opinion, and will say 'you're just ugly and bitter, go away', while all the women who aren't 'old' or 'overweight' will pipe in with 'I'm not old or overweight' before voicing their opinion. If you try to discuss mental health issues, and stigma, people will often try to dismiss what you say, or won't take it seriously. They think you're whining, that you have a sense of entitlement, they think you're out of touch with how the world works, or that 'everybody hurts sometimes', and just fucking get on with it. I have had the experience many times in life when people have either said outright regarding me 'look at her life, look at this person, consider what a fuckup she is before thinking about what she is saying, because obviously such a person couldn't have anything worthwhile to say', or they have basically not said much, but I've received the impression they don't factor in or integrate what I say, because they don't respect me or think I have authority.

Or, sometimes well-meaning people sort of condescendingly say something like 'you are so insightful to understand why vital, intelligent people wouldn't get much out of interaction with you'. Obviously I am paraphrasing/interpreting, not quoting.

My particular intelligence is a combination of linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal, with pattern spotting ability. When I was younger, it was thought by many that I wasn't 'really' intelligent, I just had an ability to memorize. However, the thing is that I was able to group information in complex systems, with many paths to groups of information. When I communicate with people who have different kinds of intelligence, I adapt my communication. When it comes to those with a more predominantly logical mathematical type of intelligence, I try to use my various skills to translate it all into terms and concepts they will understand. Sometimes even people who self-identify as logical or rational aren't aware that some of their computations or assessments about life, people, fair goes, etc, are affected by unexamined or unconscious bias. It can be difficult to get through many layers of assumptions, which all have to be challenged, in order to help them see that there is some 'logic' in what I am saying.

For example, science is about measurement and proof. But many of the assumptions people have about other people can't possible entail accurate measurement or proof - at least not at present. They are based on our currently limited ideas about how the human brain and psyche function. Many people who know that in science sample size is important will nonetheless say 'I made it through this or that, I know this other person who made it through this or that, and is now a multimillionaire', or they will vaguely say 'some people really want to succeed and they do'. But we really haven't pinned down how many people with certain circumstances, or combinations of circumstances, 'make it', and how many don't, partly because it would be extremely difficult to measure. We keep insisting on moral ideals about how human beings 'should' be able to function, ideas that might not be realistic at all.

When I do my own 'analysis' of how to begin to explain certain issues to individuals, it can take some time to 'set the stage' or lay a foundation to help them understand where I am coming from - and sometimes where I'm going with something isn't immediately evident, but a person's eyes start to glaze over before I can get to the next steps. I can often see when people have tuned out from the start 'this isn't relevant to me', but sometimes I persist until a certain limit or wall is reached. This seems to happen inevitably, with everyone. Even those who seem to understand momentarily will not have the motivation to deal with practical application of the ideas, and will usually fall back into their usual patterns and ways of seeing things. In other words, over time, the moments of understanding are 'lost' as peer pressure begins to erode my 'points'. Inevitably it seems to me not to come down to 'logic', but to personal comfort levels and the human pattern of getting stuck in one's ways, and feeling reassured by having the support of many as opposed to being challenged to accept unfamiliar concepts from someone without 'credentials'.

There are so many issues in the world that it makes sense to prioritize what you are willing to devote your time and energy to, but when it comes to mental health issues, unfortunately it can seem like families and friends don't care enough to 'learn something new'. This calls into question what 'love' is. If a person tries to challenge the unconscious prejudice and how it manifests, but is continually told either outright or in more subtle ways, or with silence, that no one cares, doesn't it make sense that the person might lose motivation for dealing with the world at all? If you've had more than a small 'sample size' of experience, and it seems that even 'open-minded', 'compassionate', 'well-informed', 'environmentally aware', 'nice' people who are well-liked only express a kind of superficial acceptance, but still seem to exhibit unconscious prejudice, how easy is it to feel connected to people?

My website has been online now since 2001. With only one exception in all these years, no one in my family, no friends have tried to discuss anything with me, or even expressed what they might be angry about or disagree with, or what I might have wrong in a factual sense. It's like I am being told either 'no one cares', 'you're being overly dramatic', or 'what you have said isn't worth justifying with a response'. Meanwhile, in public again and again we see the same messages: if you are feeling depressed, tell someone you trust, call a distress centre or talk to your GP.

What more can I actually do? The world has looked away from me, and/or is saying: Just fucking do it. (Kill yourself already.)

Somehow that doesn't feel like 'love'. It's one thing when people have a philosophy that 'suicide is a valid solution to life's problems' or that it is at least open to discussion, but when those people can see that distress is ongoing, how can they ignore it? I can't ignore a possum with an infection that might kill it in a slow and painful way. I love possums. I do not think any human beings love me.

Do people wonder if I have been ignored because I 'deserve' it? That I'm a horrible liar, a drama queen, someone who abused everyone in the family, took tons of their money, got drunk and destroyed their property, that these things happened time and again, and people eventually gave up on me? It's really not the case. It's the case that because of their preexisting beliefs, no one knew what to say, and they mostly ignored me. I did not have people calling me persistently, or suggesting I go to therapy, or expressing sadness that I was not going out or engaging with life - people have basically handled it with a 'none of my business' kind of attitude, and left me to my own devices. My repeated attempts to discuss the situation in a meaningful and open way were repeatedly brushed off. And I know in writing that that the kneejerk reaction is: 'You must have done it poorly. There is something you are not seeing about your attitude.' And honestly, I have scoured my conscience and memory, and no, I really do not think it's all or mainly my deficiency or poor approach that resulted in this. I think it relates more to society's unconscious and unarticulated prejudices, which have been reflected in my family members and friends. Just like most people have trouble in discussing the reality of death and might even have a phobia of discussing it, or can't really believe in the reality of their own deaths, I think when it comes to mental health, many people have a similar aversion to talking or thinking about it all.

It is perhaps odd or unlucky that I have never encountered a family member or friend who was at all interested in psychology. Er.. well I have perhaps encountered a few individuals who were interested in psychology inasmuch as it ultimately represented how stupid human beings were, how predictable, and how because of this it was possible to either experiment/play with them, or scam them. And perhaps one individual who had a moderate interest - but egocentric interest mainly.

Am I objective? No one can be totally objective, but I think compared to most people I have had contact with, I am pretty objective, or at least fair, and it is I suppose disappointing to me that more people don't recognize it. I think that is one area in which it is not 'grandiose' for me to feel disappointed in the lack of recognition I receive.

Is the picture at the top of the page 'fluffy'? Does it set the tone for how the text will be interpreted? If you had to explain to someone some of the ideas I have expressed to another person, wouldn't certain questions come into it: who is she? what does she do? she's not a writer, not an artist? ah, she's the partner of that Game of Thrones/Possum TV blogger? no? etc. And the more categories people try to fit me in that I don't fit, eventually, I am dismissed. It's like when years ago GK was asked about my ability to communicate, he replied that I was a good speller. I expressed later that it hurt my feelings, but he still was not able to come up with anything further, and it seems that others I knew secretly understood why: they didn't believe there was anything 'special' about my ability to communicate. They either didn't see it, or, possibly my lack of credentials prevented them from seeing it.

Is she in therapy? Is she taking her meds? Is she a Szasz diciple? She sounds like a self-involved internet crazy. You can't let everything you see on the internet affect you. What? Interesting ideas about stigma? Sounds kind of vague, and there are a lot of people saying clearer things, people who are actually therapists or non-crazy.

Seriously, how could anyone describe or introduce me? The default settings would lead to derogatory/dismissive categorization. But maybe because I am now in a position to see it, I see that maybe I like that I am difficult to categorize objectively. I see the categorization process, and I understand the foundation of it.

To what extent does unconscious or internalized stigma affect what a person thinks they want in life?

I am always concerned that my depression could affect not only people, but possums. In my life there are many examples of how I 'tried to do the right thing' by giving others a chance, when I felt I had none - it makes more sense to make decisions in favour of the 'greater good', rather than try to bring everyone down. To what extent is this rational thinking, and to what extent is it based on internalized prejudice or misunderstanding?

The messages are mixed. I think it's valid to say that through my experiences I learned more about 'how things work', such that marriage and kids didn't seem like good options for me, or things I wanted, but isn't it also the case that all the messages I have taken in say that I haven't 'earned' the right, or that the 'decent' thing to do would be to opt out of such things voluntarily, for the greater good?

I forget if I have anything about this on my site, I know I've written about it before, but what about the memes which say 'you have to work on yourself' and get to a certain place before you are 'ready' for the kind of relationship that has 'substance'. What if I've never reached the 'place' where I feel happy in just being on my own? Does that mean I should 'do the right thing' and avoid all relationships, or gracefully accept that I should abstain? Perhaps that I should have abstained all my life? What could a depressed person possibly have to offer except a chance for two people to wallow in negativity?

Then we get back to: human beings need social interaction, and they need human touch. Does this mean that as long as it's not sexual, it's ok? Why? Is it that people think there's a logical process, where if you hang out with people you have asexual relationships with, and get hugs and support, and get a job, and get some hobbies, and work out and eat as well as you can, and give up drinking or drugs, and 'give back', start giving (nonsexual) hugs to others, and volunteer in one way or another to help those less fortunate, does it mean that now you are a 'real' person, and you 'deserve' to have a 'rewarding' relationship? Are there people who 'get everything right' and still can't find a satisfying relationship? I'm thinking yes. And I suppose they scour their consciences for what they are doing wrong, or what they're not seeing, and they remain humble and patient, even if this means until they die alone and unfucked and unfuckable right through old age.

Many people can speak openly if approached in the street, or on a tv discussion show, or at dinner or at school, but what if you don't ever feel you can speak openly? What if you're not consciously aware of how many layers of 'undeserving' or 'inappropriate' you have to get through to see why you think your observations are either so 'wrong' or 'self-indulgent' they shouldn't be inflicted on the world?

If I'm 'myself', there isn't really any chance that I could be seen as 'significant other' material. Or so it seems, although I have been trying to at least leave the possibility open. In my previous long- term relationships, although I spit out the potentially scary things very fast, without sugarcoating them, I realize now that the people involved didn't really know what they were getting into. I know better now, and I have to admit it really doesn't make sense to even try, if all I can do is warn people, they don't worry about it, and then slowly over time instead of ending things directly, they feel too overwhelmed to do anything except wait for me to die, or for someone to save them.

And eventually peer pressure will convince them it was tragic they were stuck with me so long, and whatever happens to me, I'm a grownup, I've got it coming, don't worry about me. And for the most part, I will think that while this sucks for me, it's probably the best outcome for everyone else.

You can respect other people's work or accomplishments, but writers, artists, etc, whose work you like are likely to find you pathetic.

My solution was to try to find those who might understand what it's like to deal with these kinds of prejudices on a daily basis, and didn't really want to dwell on them, but sort of cut all that away, and I guess the thinking is that people for whom status is irrelevant can actually 'see' each other more easily, and appreciate what others miss when you don't have the right 'passports'.

But to fit into the existing world, on its terms.. that's where the 'professionals' come in. If you get a prescription, it means you're 'trying'. If you see a therapist, even if you bullshit through the whole process, lie or tell them what they want to hear or don't have a clue what you really believe, you're 'trying', you're showing a good attitude. And once you can successfully repeat 2 + 2 = 5, you will be all good to look after kids and animals, meet The One, etc.

The last diagnosis I'd had, at the time we all attended family therapy, was a general: depression, bulimia and anxiety. It wasn't something real to them. And because family therapy is about the family as a system, and that signs of distress in one individual do not signify that that one is weaker, but that the family as a system has problems that need to be addressed, we each had our turn to speak. I don't think anyone could hear what I was saying, and in the end, I think they were left with the opposite idea: that I was weak and choosing my situation. When as a result of these sessions I was accepted to receive disability benefits, I don't think it was real to them. I kept thinking that I probably didn't deserve it, and I hoped I'd be dead soon anyway.

When I received disability or welfare, I never had a sense of entitlement. In fact the shame and sense of not deserving actually paralyzed or debilitated me further. But if you look at this, if a person never makes it to the stage of 'giving back', what should be done with them? Is it kinder to abandon them to homelessness, or something along those lines?

I have recently read online that many women first become homeless at age 34, and that was the age I was when I made the decision to accept GK's offer that he marry me to give me a visa. I think at present I am in a precarious situation, not many steps removed from homelessness.

I don't have friends, contacts, in Australia. My passport expired in 2009, and ID is needed to do many things, like rent a place, travel, take courses. I don't actually want to try to have a life. I don't actually want to go through the process of getting ID or forcing myself to do anything.

And yet I can see that if things go on as they are, it could lead to a similar situation as in the past. And I think that most people would believe that if I became homeless it is what I 'deserve', or that maybe it's for the greater good, such that GK can be free of me. And I can sort of see that with the support of a social group, he might come to see it that way, too. I have never tried to prevent him from seeing it - I've even pointed it out.

I guess what I'm saying is that the situation sucks. Getting a visa was meant to be a bandaid type of solution, not a real one. I can sort of feel the world ganging up on me, saying quit whining, life is tough, karma's a bitch, and I realize that the most dignified thing is to probably go away quietly.

I'm not faking. And I do not believe I brought my isolation on myself, or that I 'deserve' it.

When someone sees a homeless or mentally ill person, do they imagine that person having consciousness or sentience that is similar to their own? Or do they think of that person as 'not all there'?

What I'm pointing out here is the peer pressure issue. No one in these loops sees what I express as 'valid', or valid beyond an individual interaction with them - I am just not explainable or acceptable for 'the real world'. It is not crazy for me to notice this. It is not crazy for me to see that something similar to what happened with my ex (and my family, before that) could again happen here.

I am embarrassing. My prickly issues aren't valid, or aren't 'reasonably' presented. This is not my view. I am trying to hold on to the validity of my experience in the face of all this. It's not easy for me, but it's probably harder for those who have peer support not to. I can see my position.

I think this very much relates to stigma. I had to write it out, I had to explore the chain of thought.

Do homeless people in a sense play a kind of quiet game because it is expected of them, or because no one can or is willing to hear them?

If I called Lifeline, I'd probably be asked if I could talk to a doctor for a referral. But I know enough about psychological infrastructure that it doesn't seem very likely the existing mental health outlets will help me, and it's not because I have a bad attitude. For 'help' to help, a person needs something strong enough for 'help' to adhere to.

I haven't ever had family members or friends who were interested in why people think, feel and behave as they do. As for those who seemed to have picked up a little about psychology, their focus would tend to be kind of lopsided - psychology for them was mainly about how stupid humans were, and how easy it was to manipulate them. I came to see this as the Flat Earth view of psychology. So, I would encounter relationships in which people had a Flat Earth view, no interest, or only passing interest, and in one case predominantly egocentric interest, in psychology. I would feel like I needed to find others to talk to. Everyone I knew was in effect saying that my concerns and interests didn't interest them, and as a consequence, I felt like I was boring and vapid.

This relates to how in recent years, I think the people most likely to engage in conversations with me have been scammers or sadists. They put in more effort, because there is something they hope to get out of it? Whereas no one else can even pretend? But while ultimately these interactions are frustrating and futile, at times they are sort of interesting. It's not true that no one puts in effort - two people put in much more effort than most non-scammers or non-sadists. But while intellectually I appreciate some things, it's like I'm so far out there now that nothing truly connects, and it all takes so much energy either to 'do no harm', or what I mean is not get mad at how much energy it takes to translate for people who don't understand the effects of stigma or that it affects how they perceive anything I communicate, so I have to try extra hard.

..Which is how I know that it is a bad thing to complain to the extent I have here. I know it will look like blablabla. Expressing anger or anything impatient or with a judgmental tone disqualifies everything I say. So does repetition. Right?

->exile on meme st: a diary