Improve how you beat stigma and prejudice, using courageous honesty!
Let them know where you stand.
"Silence only hides us from allies—It does not protect us from prejudice."
Very quickly after being diagnosed with a mental illness, I learned that stigma is everywhere.
Prejudice was inflicted on me even by people who didn't know I was bipolar, or disabled.
Silence Feeds Stigma
Bigotry is more common when people don't have enough info. When we tell people about our situations, it becomes an opportunity to teach life lessons!
One example: I often hear from people that they had a "very sick bipolar uncle" who "was a real jerk" (their eyes glaring at me as they talk).
Most people aren't willing to provide examples of "me, the goodly bipolar person", so naturally we only hear about very sick victims, who can't hide it.
Be Upfront, and Set a Good Example.
I'm upfront. I introduce my illness to new people early on.
This allows me to engage any potential prejudice, and then set a good example by simply being myself till I die.
No B.S...People tend to learn pretty quickly, and I rarely have issues.
P.S. Hiding doesn't protect you.
I don't mean to scare you, but you can't outrun, outhide, or outsmart stigma. You can only fight it courageously.
From my own experiences: Staying quiet doesn't protect me from stigmatizing ideas, opinions, and statements. It's most dangerous because you can begin to believe these ideas if you aren't fighting them.
Not to mention, if you hide, you will have a greater fear of being "found out." and be weaker when you are "found out".
Let Courage be your Shield
Being courageous and genuine equips you to better deal with future challenges. Speaking up lets you know that you're capable, and this is no big deal!
Further, it will make you aware of your unique strengths, and power to take control of your struggles, while distinguishing you from those silly/stupid/hurtful stereotypes.
With time and effort, you'll understand how to comfortably and effectively speak up.
A Strong Voice Finds New Allies
There are people around with similar struggles...and they're ready to ally with you! When you aren't hiding, you're much more apt to find new allies.
Even people who haven't experienced your struggles will also look up to your courage. I speak from experience here.
Those people will potentially become allies too.
There are a lot of kind, tolerant people out there. Help them find you!
Use This to Improve Your Life.
When people know where you stand, you'll usually attract people who are good matches, and repel bad matches, while also winning people over with your strong honesty!