#WeGotThis - 16 - Stigma


Permission. I listened to @bbc5live today and was inspired to write this post. The subject was on pelvic floor health and the fact that 1 in 3 women have pelvic floor disorders - but the vast majority stay silent about it. When asked why this could be the guest @gusset_grippers highlighted stigma. Stigma surrounding pelvic floor health (and female reproductive health generally) is keeping large numbers of women quiet about something that can a) profoundly affect their quality of life and b) be improved with the right professional help.

She then went on to say that when women are effectively ‘given permission’ to speak about their pelvic floor problems, they were impossible to keep quiet! This struck a chord with me. Stigma pervades across many areas of our lives. And of course, it is a major factor in keeping our mental health a difficult thing to talk about. Something I have spoken about many times.

However, when we feel as though we have permission to speak - that we can do so in a safe and compassionate space - you can’t shut us up!

Have you experienced that? Perhaps as a parent you muddled and struggled through thinking you were the only one who found it difficult...until you mentioned it to friends who also felt the same way as you! Then ensues an honest and freeing conversation about your shared experiences and difficulties. You come away feeling lighter and far less alone (If you are a parent I hope you have experienced this because it’s a godsend when you are having a crap parent-day!).

Anyway, back to permission. It’s so important isn’t it? Feeling able and safe to share your thoughts and feelings with others. And when you start it can sometimes be as though the floodgates are open.

It is so sad that we need to have so-called permission to speak and share on things like our mental health and pelvic floor health (and all the other taboo subjects out there). If we don’t have permission we have to hide ourselves in some way - this is an example of an old-school attitude that I would like to see the back of. We don’t need to hide ourselves. We shouldn’t need permission to be ourselves.

But there is no escaping the fact that we still do. Stigma sees to that. But the best way to reduce stigma is to share and talk, right? So instead of waiting for permission why not give it to ourselves instead?

If I think about it, this is what I’ve been doing with my posts on mental health since I started WellbeingFIT. I’d had enough of waiting for permission. I permiss myself to speak. If we can do this more (and find other stigma-warriors) then we can make a real difference. ‘Suffering in silence’ has had its day. #permission #permissiontospeak #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #speak #share #pelvicfloorhealth #stigmasmashers #bbc5live #emmabarnettshow

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