Today for invisible illness awareness week, I'm going to talk about a subject that is very close to my heart.
In a world where if you have a neurological or psychiatric disorder, you get lower quality health care and people make assumptions about what type of person your illness makes you, this needs to be said.
Today, right now, and all over the world, it needs to be spread.
Getting the message out, removing the stigma, forcing people to realize, recognise, admit, and react in a way that shows that they know that a person is just a person, regardless of their illness, is vital.
It can, and will, save lives.
If someone sprains their ankle, and they have no "mental drugs" on their medical record, they get pain meds. If that same person has even a single med for depression, or anxiety, or any of a million other drugs for mental or neurological disorders, then they get tylenol or ibuprofen, if they get anything at all.
"Nobody wants to be around a gloomy Gus", "We like you better when you are happy", and so many other sayings make it clear to those with depression that it is unacceptable to be, or feel, any way but perfect, cheerful, entertaining, happy.
The stigma surrounding mental illness is so great, that I raised my daughter without any help for my disorders, because I was terrified that if someone, anyone, knew what was going on in my head, they would take her away from me. That is what our society, and this stigma has done to those of us with these types of disorders. The stigma, that terror, kept my daughter from having as good a childhood as she could have, because I knew that I would be judged. Not for something I could control, not based on my actual parenting skills, but judged as a person, and as a parent, for the illness in my brain.
How is that good? How is that productive? How is the prejudice that propagates these feelings beneficial to anyone, anywhere, at any time? It's not. Stigma never has been, and it never will be any form of helpful or positive. Ever! Whether that stigma is against "blacks", "retards", "nerds", furries, "spics", people with service dogs, "gays", "poor people", pagans, handicapped people", "transgenders", "the 1%", or any other group or label, stigma and prejudice is still wrong. It is painful, unproductive, cruel, unnecessary, and wrong.
We have all seen what socially-acceptable prejudice creates, what it encourages. It is more clear when looking back in history to the Jews, the "blacks", pagans, "gays", and so many other groups who were treated like they were less than human simply because they existed. It wasn't acceptable then, and it is not acceptable now. Prejudice is never acceptable, no matter what group is the chosen target.
There are those who write nasty letters, discriminate against, and even purposely torment those who are in a group that it is "socially ok" to hate or look down on. Purposeful psychological abuse of the mentally ill by cruel people who like to watch others suffer is rampant and widespread. And it is considered acceptable by the population at large, because "those people" being abused are "crazy", and not deserving of being treated like a "normal person". Normal is a setting in a dryer. When applied to people, I can only assume that "normal is some sort of pretend conglomeration based on the most popular people in the world at any given time, and that not a single one of them, as individuals, actually meet the definition that they assisted in creating. I don't know for sure what "normal" means, but I can be sure that I have never met, and I doubt I ever will meet, anyone who fits the label.
We need to stand up and speak out. All of us, all of the time. Those with as well as those without an illness that affects our brains. We ALL need to speak out, and we need to keep speaking out. Spread the word, mental illness isn't "crazy", it's not "bad" or "scary". Mental illness is not a precursor or a symptom of substance abuse. Mental illness is it's own thing, separate and alone. And millions of people suffer from it every hour of every day.
You can help ease the suffering of someone with a mental or neurological disorder today. By educating others, you can help to remove the stigma, you can cure some of the fear that those who suffer have about being "found out". You can help all peoples to have equal health care, regardless of the diagnosis that live in their brains and on their medical charts.
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