Stigma: The Thorn in My Side

Since I was a young child there was a thorn in my side–a thorn in my flesh that penetrated deep into my heart and soul. I couldn’t pinpoint what the prick was or where it originated from, but something was wrong.

As time progressed, more thorns found their way into my flesh pricking me throughout the duration of my life–reminding me I didn’t measure up.

Soon a mental illness cactus threw out its painful thorns of stigma and pierced daggers into my life and psyche. These thorns stuck into my skin permanently with painful reminders of their existence each time stigma resurfaced and slapped again.

Eventually I removed my thorns from my flesh one at a time and gave them back. They were not mine to keep. Upon my thorns removal I realized what my thorns were.

The thorn in my side and thorns in my flesh were shame. Shame penetrated my heart and soul for years and interfered with the quality of my life. I realized after many years that stigma of mental illness caused undue heartache and shame–a shame I did not want or deserve so I gave it back to the originator. I gave my shame to the many people who stigmatize people with mental illness.

I am not ashamed of my mental illness–they are. They may keep their shame and wear it. Shame is not mine to wear.

After I gave back my shame and stopped being ashamed of myself, my mental health improved. It was like a bed of nails was removed from my heart and a light was lit and shone through me. I could see everything clearer. Life was brighter–I was brighter with no dagger like thorns in my side darkening my spirit. I was and am free of the thorns of shame.

I removed the painful thorns, washed off the tarnish and am applying my polish. Too many years of stigma and shame tarnished my soul, so I have a lot of polishing to do. I will not let the reflections of mental illness stigma stain me anymore and I will continue to apply my polish until I shine brightly.

Don’t let stigma or shame tarnish your shine or be a thorn in your side.

Give back their shame.

~Susan Walz

But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.’ (Numbers 33:35 King James Version)

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20 Replies to “Stigma: The Thorn in My Side”

  1. Beautiful! Absolutely beautifully written. There is no shame in being mentally ill whatsoever. Funny thing is… I wouldn’t have come across all the wonderful people here on WordPress if it weren’t for having a mental illness. I am so proud to say that you all are my closest of friends. We all have so much in common, and that the stories that are shared mean the world to me.

    1. Thank you very much Beckie. I am so happy you liked my words. I agree this blog is full of amazing people. We are all awesoem and we just need to keep telling everyone else so they learn how wonderful we all are. They are missing out on what we all know and have learned from the illness we have survived. Thanks for reading and for your always great insights and feedback. You are absoultely the best!!! and a wonderful friend to all. Much love and hugs always, Sue

  2. This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing. The hope is that together, we can continue to fight against the stigma and bring awareness and understanding to those who don’t understand. Always remember… you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Together we raise awareness and fight to be stigma busters.

  3. I deal with mental illness and I know the stigma you speak of. It is terrible that the people in the world most in need are looked down upon and treated unfairly. I have been treated decently but I have heard many stories of how other, less fortunate people were treated. Thanks for sharing your experience. I pray that it reaches someone who needs to hear it and helps them.

    1. Thank you for reading and for your great feeback and insights. I appreciate it greatly. I am happy you haven’t experienced stigma first hand. It can make this illness even more difficult to fight but together we can still make it. Be strong and be well. Much love and hugs, Sue

  4. It takes a lot of courage to share your mental health struggles. I’ve just started my blog on mental illness and addiction and have found it very liberating but has also left me vulnerable. Keep up the good work. Jim x

    1. Thank you very much. I appreciate your kind words of encouragement. Congratulations on starting your blog. Keep working on it. I had many moments after I wrote something that I thought I just disclosed too much of myself but I soon learned how very freeing, therapeutic and healing it was for me in the end. People’s comments and feedback were always so helpful for me. Also, remember you are helping more people than you realize with your words. It takes a while to get followers too. Dont worry just keep going. You are writing about both mental illness and addcition and that is very essential. Much love and hugs, Sue

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