Rejected By My Sister’s Fiancé What Happened My sister’s fiancé shared that he grew up estranged from his uncle who had a mental illness and was dead now, and that same night he told my family I was mentally ill and I needed to be distanced. This came after a whole series of different events when I had been told he didn’t like my jokes, my asking questions about their relationship, my talking about information they’d shared about their relationship, and on and on and I tried to make changes because I thought there was hope to fix it. I didn’t know about his family history of mental illness estrangement and his problems with my bipolar disorder. The whole thing was embarrassing publicly because I was excluded from family events and my family blamed my sister’s relationship problems with this guy on his problems with me, even though I had barely ever interacted with him. I’d met him three times before he gave my sister an ultimatum that she had to distance me or lose their relationship, and this was while she was recovering from cancer surgery, yet somehow I was still treated like the bad guy. It was almost a relief to hear it was mental illness stigma after years of struggling to change myself to try to be accepted by him so I could still have my sister in my life. The Loss I was a wreck. When my sister first told me the ultimatum, I lost ten pounds in less than two weeks and I was the most suicidal I’ve ever been. For many months I could not function at all, wondering if I had always been a burden to my sister because she had started saying this after receiving the ultimatum from her fiancé. I felt uncomfortable with my family because I was the focal point of so much negative attention and I pulled away from those relationships, even though I used to revolve my life around helping my family and being there for every occasion. I also became extremely paranoid about rejection and sensitive to any signs it was happening. That meant I had problems with my in-laws and pulled away from them, while also becoming more obsessive about gaining their approval so I wouldn’t feel like everyone hated me. I was nervous people in an advocacy organization didn’t like me so I quit because I couldn’t handle the fear of more rejection. How I Coped At first I coped very badly by spending years in extra emergency therapy sessions trying to change myself to please my sister and her fiancé, having my therapist help with every e-mail message all while I was ignoring his advice that I think about my feelings and how I wanted to be treated. Eventually I started writing about the experience and researching stigma, and I finally realized I was trapped in self-stigma. I started working on overcoming that, but it took years to get to that coping strategy and it took about a year before I finally was able to let go of hating myself. One book I found helpful was Get Out Of Your Mind and Into Your Life. It helped me step back from my negative self-talk and learn to love myself. I also realized what many people had told me, which was my sister had her own problems and was in an abusive situation. She kept trying to talk to me on the side and it was clear her main issue was a fear of losing her fiancé. Even our mother was saying the big fear was making sure he would make it down the aisle. So I tried not to take it personally and to have warm wishes for her even though I still can’t believe she would throw me under the bus like this. The Positives I realized that I had been suppressing my feelings of self-stigma since I was a little kid, and that I felt stigmatized in many areas of my life, especially my family. Those feelings had always been hurting me, but they were buried. It took this situation for me to finally face my real feelings and work through them. Ultimately I made peace with losing my sister, though I still hope she is okay and able to reconnect one day. And I felt grateful I was finally forced to face the stigma and realize I am a good person. I’m healthier now but it took a lot of pain to get here, and it still hurts every day to know that my sister was willing to do this on account of my having a mental illness.