When clinical psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, was diagnosed with depression, she was relieved. But soon after the comfort and relief dissipated, she felt shame and guilt and even started reconsidering her profession.
Serani writes poignantly about this so-called self-stigma in her beautiful, information-packed book, Living with Depression:
…I felt inadequate and embarrassed by my diagnosis. I knew that society feared anything that strayed from the norm, and the idea of being seen as different, disabled, or dysfunctional really frightened me. I didn’t tell anyone about my depression, kept my medication hidden in a bedside dresser, and kept secret my feelings of failure. I even went so far as to believe that I should hang up my shingle as a practicing psychologist because, clearly, I was incapable of taking care of myself as a person. How could I take care of others as a professional? Despite the fact that I was a psychologist educated in the mind, brain and body, the misconceptions about mental illness shoehorned themselves into my life.
Fortunately, as Serani started feeling better, these negative thoughts and feelings went away.
In her book Serani outlines other types of stigma, and provides tips for dealing with them.