Doesn't mean I am less than.
I might be severely politically incorrect, but when I hear Martin Luther Jr's speech "I Have A Dream" I can't help applying it to my life.
It took me a long time to realize what discrimination was. I knew people were mean to me - especially after they found out that I had schizophrenia. I once, while crying, told my ARMHS worker about the friend, my best and only friend other than the guy I was dating, who had just blocked me. I had told her that I had schizophrenia and her reaction was panic.
I was devastated, but now that I am a mother and know more about society, I understood better where she was coming from. You see, when people talk about schizophrenia, they see the young girl who stabbed her classmate for "slender man". They see TV shows like Titus.
Things like this hurt me deeply and I spent a long time trying to make sense of why she would have just disappeared from my life. Why my doctor, at the time, wrote off any problem I had as "in my head." Why a local police officer told me that "people like me deserve to be locked up." Why a social worker told me that I could never adopt.
I thought that they were simply being hurtful and mean... and at the end of the day, that is the best description of discrimination that I can come up with. Discrimination, according to the dictionary, is a noun describing "the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability."
When people hear the word schizophrenia, they tend to panic. They panic because they look at widely circled tv shows and court cases that should make any person shudder. Unfortunately, according to a paper by Anthony Walsh (Boise State University) and Ilhong Yun (Chosun University) published by ScholarWorks, says how "the majority people with schizophrenia are nonviolent and are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators (Taylor, 2008)."
This public persona of schizophrenia shows it to be an uncontrollable, violent mental disorder that can cause a person to snap at any moment. I did not understand that at the time and my ARMHS worker encouraged me to not share my mental health disorder to help me connect with people.
I had a terrible time doing that to people though. It was like I was lying and living two very different lives. The life of appointments and the life of a typical young adult. Even now I struggle with it.
But it is who I am. I have an invisible illness that allows me to side-step most discrimination as long as I stay silent. Most of my friends who are also diagnosed with schizophrenia stay silent. They can't handle those looks you get. You might say that you don't know what I am talking about - but you do.
I can hide in plain sight. My symptoms are managed and the most you would think of is my anxiety. But I do not want to stay silent.
I hate the stares and the judgments that the majority of people make.
I regularly go off on rants when I see people trying to use their "mental illness" to get out of wrong doing.
I could stay silent. But to stay silent will not help others like me avoid discriminatory statements like "you will always like in an insane asylum" and "your life and dreams are now over."
When I hear Martin Luther Jr's speech, I have a dream too. A dream where I can utter the words: "I'm schizophrenic" without everyone backing away slowly.
About the author
I am a mother of 2 precious angels who drive me slightly more crazy
than I already am with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
When asked "are you crazy?!" my favorite come back is:
"yes! And I have the papers to prove it! How about you?" LOL