Does the topic of Mental Illness make you uncomfortable? Good. It should. And the only way a society can move forward is if we stop acting like Mental Illness doesn’t affect us in some way. It doesn’t have to be, nor should it be, a “dirty little secret” anymore. It\s not acceptable to call people living with illness, ANY illness, names such as “oddball”, “‘weirdo”, or “misfit”. How would people react if we were to call those living with a disease like cancer such things as “tumour-boy” or “loser”? As a person who lives with mental illness, I no longer find it tolerable to hear people say things like “stop acting so schizo” or other hurtful things. And I can honestly say that in my journey, I haven’t heard anyone say anything negative directly to me or about me, but then again, I don’t know what people say when I’m not around. Do they stand up when they hear the stigmatized comments and say “Hey, I have a friend who lives with a mental illness and she doesn’t deserve to be spoken of in this manner”….I hope so.
There’s a call to action on the parts of those of us who live with illness to join the movement to stop shaming Mental Illness. We need to stand up and call people out when they are not treating us with dignity and respect. We are not our illness. Don’t refer to me as “she’s a borderline” or call others things like “bi-polar Betty” – much like I wouldn’t say something like “Oh yeah, Bob….he’s diabetes.”. Society needs to stop the blame and shame game. First of all, I didn’t choose to be ill. I didn’t go and sign up with the “Crazy Gods” and say, “please, give me an illness that everyone will misunderstand and also make me feel ashamed for being a burden because I’m ill!!” And second of all, I’m a human being that deserves the rights of every other human being on this planet. The right to be loved and to love. The right to be as happy and as healthy as I can be.
I watched a lecture the other day about where the direction of mental illness is headed. I believe that it’s the last taboo in our society that needs to be tackled. We’ve got to stop hiding behind closed doors and bring ourselves into the light. We deserve to be heard and we have a voice! If you, or someone you love is living with a mental illness, please take my hand and join me. We are warriors, brave and strong and we will no longer be silent.