The Cost of Self-Stigma

October 24, 2013 Angela E. Gambrel

Do you ever feel as if you're not good enough?

Do you ever wake up at night and think, If others really knew me...

Do you ever walk around looking at others, knowing they are better/smarter/more beautiful than you?

Yes.The cost of self-stigma is high. Self-stigma can destroy your self-esteemFor weeks, I've struggled with what to write in this space.

I had plenty of good ideas — the military and mental health stigma, the roots of stigma, and the upcoming conference with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (Mental Health Stigma: An Interview with Patrick Kennedy) and others addressing mental health and stigma were just a few ideas that I had.

But I started a new job in September.

I love it. I am able to help the military, veterans, and their families. I write and I meet people and I get to do fun things with kids, such as going to the apple orchard and eat cinnamon doughnuts and drink coffee while getting paid.

I love my co-workers; they are some of the most warm and welcoming people I have ever worked with.


The Voices of Self-Stigma

I'm not good enough.

My writing is boring.

My people skills non-existent.

I don't know how to make casual conversation.

And that old stand-by: I'm fat. People are looking at me, and all they see is fat.

I know a million ways to tear myself down. I've been doing it for decades.

This is what it has cost me:

  • a finance
  • a full-ride scholarship to Stanford University
  • self-respect
  • several jobs
  • my marriage
  • and almost, my life

Effect of Self-Stigma

The problem with self-doubt and self-stigma, at least for me, is that it stops me from doing things. It keeps me from reading and writing and being with friends. It stops me from voicing my opinion and taking part in conversations. It holds me back from realizing my full potential, from using all my gifts fully. The pain of self-stigma is real.

It tells the world that I am less because I struggle with depression and anxiety, because I have struggled with anorexia in the past.

It tells society that my input is less than others.

The problem I continue to face it how to stop this self-stigma. How do I completely let go of the self-hatred, and allow myself to live? How do I stop measuring myself by impossible standards, trying to be thin and witty and beautiful, trying to pretend I'm not in my late forties and have wrinkles and graying hair and a body that has soften with age.

These are the things I have been thinking about lately, searching for answers. I have yet to find any, but that doesn't mean I will stop looking.

Angela E. Gambrel can also be found on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2013, October 24). The Cost of Self-Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

Susan F
October, 28 2013 at 8:13 pm

Let me know when you find some of those answers. I isolate myself so much because my life has been so focused on dealing with my mental health issues for so long that I have little else to contribute. I feel like there is nothing good left in me to share. I don't know how to stop seeing things this way. I am still so depressed and don't feel like getting out and enjoying the activities that I used to. I basically only get out to doctor appointments and the grocery store, the pharmacy and maybe the library. Who wants to hear about that? Who wants to hear about the meds I take or how much I slept? I just have nothing to offer.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 23 2017 at 10:58 am

Me too.

Monique Saenz
January, 29 2014 at 11:36 am

Great post. I'm going to have to re-read it when my mind is clearer and try to understand how this has affected me throughout the years.

Dr Musli Ferati
May, 27 2017 at 11:49 pm

The portrait of oneself exhibits great and intrigued issue that may harm seriously global life performances and welfare, as well. So is advisable to take the right way that learn as to be tolerable toward real or imaginable oneself personal waekness
i order to stop accuse self confidence and self esteem. Otherwise we risk to damage the strong aspect of our whole personality. Otherwise, the longtime and perpetuate sense of self-guilty lead to depression as hard and ruinous emotional outcome. Depression as despair feeling, on the other hand, lose heart for actual and future intentions and ambitions. Without any goal throughout daily life, our existence hasn't significance that is to say we exist but we didn't live, or more evil we haven' any importance in respective social milieu. This vituperate cascade of self-hatred and self stigma should be interrupt from its beginning, because its evolve negative virtue of personality. Finally, we are living creature with personal favor and disfavor that should accord in accordance of better life functionality. Nobody isn't perfect and spotless, we all have got some defect, but they didn't determine personal, occupational and social welfare.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 29 2017 at 5:48 pm

It's definitely important to remember that no one is perfect, for sure. Although I appreciate your encouragement to others to stop with being self-accusatory and self-depricating, it's not quite that easy. We're all works in progress and have to learn out to get there. I think baby steps and small goals are definitely valuable in getting there before we jump to things like trying to find meaning in our existence. :)

Julie Hamilton
May, 2 2018 at 10:15 am

Wow...I'm leading a day long workshop on self-stigmatization and self-loathing this weekend and came a cross this article. I suffer from it as well. I agree it is difficult to deal with and reverse. I don't perceive having self-stigmatizing thoughts as 'mental illness' rather as what a normal healthy mind likes to promote. I do agree it can lead to behavioral problems of all sorts. My clients and I focus on NOTICING stigmatic/judgemental thoughts. Do we ask these thoughts to show up or do they pop up as we go through our day. If we try to get rid of we find ourselves more stuck in them. Is it ok to notice them and return our focus to what we were just doing (or wanting to do) before they showed up, and refocus (as meany times as needed. We may not be able to rid ourselves of critical thoughts, yet we can begin to relate to the thoughts differently and in turn treat ourselves in a more compassionate manner. This is from an ACT perspective...promoting Psychological Flexibility. Lot of great self-help books on this.

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