The culture has made some progress in the understanding and acceptance of others, but in matters of mental illness it lags behind. There still aren’t enough beds, still isn’t enough training, affordable medication and therapy, to help the many schizophrenics lost to the streets and left to fend off the demons in their minds on their own. I know this firsthand, so I talk about it.
If someone has a genuine interest in knowing what it’s like to live with schizophrenia, I feel obligated to share my personal experience. The truth might make them uncomfortable, but the conversation has to start somewhere. Change cannot happen if we live in a bubble.
We do all the normal things while overriding the insecurity and uncertainty that self-stigma hammers us down with. We manage that, which takes a certain strength. So be proud. Take time to practice some self-care in your own inimitable way. Live your best life. You deserve it.
Mean people suck. In my first draft of this blog, that bumper sticker sentiment was all I could type. It’s a natural response to an emotional situation, but I know better. Responding in anger only fuels more intolerance. I have enough to deal with just managing my mental illness. Advocacy is not a license to bully. Leave that to the narrow-minded. Then help them change their mind through peaceful interaction.
Pop culture had shaped my views on mental illness and psychiatry, so I approached therapy with some trepidation. Would I have to lie on a couch while the therapist sat out of sight, furiously scribbling notes in a journal? Would I be forced to talk about embarrassing things from my past? Would those notes be sent to my insurance company for billing purposes the way my medical records are made available upon request?