There is an insidious form of stigma that’s common in the lives of people with mental illness. It’s caused by mistreatment that’s real but not obvious, and so, when complaints are made, they’re not believed. The victims’ ability tell the truth about a situation, is all too often questioned. That’s unfair and a great injustice.

An example is when a person is mistreated over a period of time—with anger, disrespect, and exclusion. They cry out, complaining to those closest to them, describing what’s happening and how it hurts.

But nothing is done because they’re not believed, and it can’t be proven. The victim is emotionally damaged within, something not visible to others. Not having their pain appreciated by others, makes their experience all the worse. They suffer greatly.

Because she has a mental health problem, people find it impossible to believe her story. “She has a mental illness,” they say to each other. “How can you trust the words of a person with mental illness? It must be in her head—just another part of her illness.”

“Besides,” they go on to say, “the person who she claims is hurting her is a fine, upstanding member of the community. He’s mentally well; she’s not. It’s easy to see who’s at fault.”

This is what I, a person living with illness, would point out: “People should, by no means, disregard a person’s claims of abuse. Even if the person is sensitive—as many with mental illness are—their response to the mistreatment may be perfectly warranted. Being sensitive does not mean that true abuse cannot happen.”

There’s no end to the number of upstanding individuals who have been known to abuse those they discriminate against. Let’s face it, people with mental illness are frequent victims of prejudice. They’re looked down on, not considered as human as others. That attitude is reflected in how they’re treated. Too often, such mistreatment is considered acceptable.

The truth should be carefully examined, especially if the victim is functioning well in other areas. Especially when, despite her reports of pain, she shows herself to be a rational human being who had always been respected.

In my own case, for example, I continued working for God, as I always had, despite the pain inflicted on me. I wrote well-researched pieces about mental health and faith. I wrote extensively on forgiveness, studying what the Bible said about it. No one heard me or believed me when I showed how it was not preached accordingly.

Emotionally, I was hurting deeply, but my mind still worked well. The flashbacks that came, causing suicidal depression, kept the memories alive. Why were those vivid memories not recognized as fact when I told them repeatedly?

How painful to have my truth not believed! How painful to be receiving the blame!