Nuts, Crazy, Insane, Shitzo, Bonkers, Not Quite Right, these are a few of the terms people use to describe people living with mental illness and by no means the only ones there are hundreds if not thousands. No other illness has so many adjectives, don't believe me just try and find other names for Diabetics. So why this? why my condition? Why is there such a stigma on Mental Illness?
I have felt the sting of the stigma of mental illness, have felt the nervous disconnect the mistrust people have with someone who is living with Mental Illness. It comes in many flavors kinda like a Baskin Robins of Stigmata. We have all seen the severely schizophrenic homeless who wear tattered clothing and have conversations in with the voices that their brains produce in their heads. Some will laugh at them, a lot of people do, others will cross the street to avoid them. Most never try and talk to them like the humans they are.
Part of the stigma of Mental Illness is that we are all bad people, who are delusional, manipulating not to be trusted. Why is this, I feel it comes from many places so I will list a few for you;
- Lack of Knowledge: Most people just plain do not understand Mental Illness and have a problem connecting chemicals in the brain with behavior / mood. There is little info or attention given to crazy, we do not have ribbons, or runs few to no celebrity faces, so we are a unknown and what we do not know scares us.
- Media: The media does a poor job of portraying people living with Mental Illness, we are more times than not seen as Murders, Abusive, Thieves, drunks, addicts and general well crazy folk. Show me one character in the media who is living with Mental Illness in a positive way.
- Past Experiences; There are lots of us who had a Bipolar parent, spouse or sibling that may have harmed us physically or mentally. The so-called family black sheep who is looked at with pity and or scorn. These folks have a axe to grind with everyone who lives with a mental illness and generally puts everyone in the same straight jacket.
There is even a "Caste System" of socially ok crazy folk and the really sad thing is this caste system is also followed by other mental health patients and professionals . The people who suffer from anxiety disorders or low level OCD and manageable depression are at the top. They are the safe, the harmless, we all feel for someone who has anxiety or depression. Then we move on to the Major Depression & Major anxiety-OCD they make the world a little more uncomfortable. Next on the stigma plate are the scary ones, Bipolar ooooh it is like a boogyman, to some real fucking crazy and they walk among us almost invisible ready to pounce. Then the bottom of the caste system are the people living with schizophrenia or anti-social disorder they are seen as less than human by both the general public and alot of professionals.
How do we change this Stigma? I blog about my crazy as personal way to beat it down. I speak about Mental Illness in public and my openness or self outing of my mental illness is also a way of breaking this stigma. But more needs to be done, we need a run or two maybe a walk. we need a ribbon and celebrities to come out of the Crazy Closet and profess their "Mad Pride". Because we are not less then, we are not deserving of discrimination, or to be treated as criminals because we are ill. Would you put a diabetic in dirty hospital ward because he or he stopped taking their insulin? Would you cross the street to avoid someone with MS? Or maybe you would not be friends with someone who had Hypothyroidism. I know these sound silly but it is no different. No one with Mental Illness did anything to contract or bring on their disease it just happened.
Please join me in working to lessen the Stigma of Mental Illness because it is the right thing to do.