What’s a stigma?

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

Dear Olivia,

I guess today’s letter is kind of serious. I’m sorry. I want to help you wag your tail at lunchtime, but you’re the only one who gets my letters, and I need answers. It takes a long time to type with my paws!

What’s a stigma? Your mom talked about how some people are mean and are “stigmatizing” people, but it doesn’t sound like a good word. She said some humans face a “stigma” because they have a mental illness. Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me!

Your mom said that sometimes humans get bullied or neglected and have a hard time making friends because they have depression or schizophrenia, but that’s just dumb. It’s an illness, right? If it’s an illness, you should help them!

When you are sick you stay home from school (which I love!) Your mom fixes soup and crackers for you (which is great when you spill it!), and you get extra cuddles. Cuddles are always good! So, if someone’s mental is sick, shouldn’t they get soup and cuddles too?

LuLu Cat says it isn’t that simple, but I’m not so sure. Do you think that (no offense since you’re a human, but…) humans sometimes make things difficult? If dogs are sick, sometimes they go away from their packs to keep them safe. But no one teases them or calls them useless.

Sometimes if a family dog is sick, some dogs will stay nearby and protect them. It just depends on how the pack is established. But the thing is, us dogs understand that sometimes somebody gets sick. It’s part of nature. Should a mental sickness really be different?

When your mom is sick, like when she got that stomach flu stuff, that little yappy twerp Felix stayed by her and growled if anyone got near her.  She told Felix “thank you” and everything! Felix is a loud, hyper little fuzzball, but he is also a good protector. Maybe more humans need fuzzball protectors to help them get better too. Maybe feeling safe is part of feeling better!

It all goes back to what I told you a few weeks ago. The only way to be truly happy is to get a dog.

Usually, I think that I am confused, but the more I type, the more I think humans are the ones who are confused. If we all protect each other, this stigma-thing wouldn’t be an issue!

Just my two dog biscuits! Wuff you!
Jamie

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