The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness
After every one of these interactions, and there were many along the way, Kendell was flooded with a deep sense of shame and despair. Over and over again, she faced and felt the stigma surrounding this disease. Each time she found herself falling further and further into the abyss of self-doubt. The worst was what she faced in her personal life. Since there is a wide misunderstanding that Lyme is easy to get rid of, she was expected to just bounce out of it. When it took too long for her to recover, she was told by many close to her that maybe she did have a mental illness, or that maybe if she did dig a little deeper, she really could control herself and her psychiatric symptoms.
Kendell was being stigmatized everywhere she looked. She was facing her own witch trial. If she had a more recognizable and accepted disease, such as a broken leg with a cast, or even cancer, things definitely might have been easier. Instead, she had this physical and psychiatric illness that was disguised, and in turn acting as her own private and invisible torturer. Finally, she got to a place where the shame and guilt and self-hatred became too much. She knew she had to make a change. She adjusted her mindset and started to realize that only she could save herself. Kendell looked inward and started to dig deep. Not out of shame or guilt but driven out of the necessity to take back her power and finally show this disease who was boss! She was able to do this by assimilating one transformative word into her vocabulary: Hope. Kendell and Christy co-wrote a previous essay titled Is Hope the New Antibiotic for Chronic Illness detailing their personal journey’s about hope (Lewis and Munzer, 2019).