Written by C.D.Z.
How do I sum up 31 years with mental illness? I don’t. I can’t. What I can do is say that I’m not big on labels. I have a few of them. Paranoid schizophrenic. Bipolar. PTSD. OCD. Generalized anxiety disorder. Bulimia (non-purging). Breast cancer (caused by medication). Crohns. Homeless. I could go on but like I said: I’m not big on labels.
It seems to me labels are for lazy people, people who can’t be bothered to know your story. People who like to marginalize and discriminate. If you’re one of those people than I hope you have what you need to write me off and go about your day thinking you have it harder. You don’t.
As long as we are talking about labels, let’s add in the trendy term: “stigma”. Apparently someone in a higher tax bracket decided stigma was the major issue facing mental health today. That’s funny. How about trying to get help when in crisis? How about trying to find food or shelter or someone (anyone) who cares???
I will sum up a story about one of my many struggles trying to find help while in crisis… I was given the wrong medication by my pharmacy and I had a heart attack because of it. I went to the emergency department in my local hospital and explained that I have schizophrenia and I was given a mystery pill in my blister pack instead of my usual antipsychotic medication. That fact alone should have been reason enough for the medical staff to understand my odd behaviour. Instead, I was accused of being on cocaine and locked in a room by myself for nearly 9 hours! I hadn’t been given an ekg or blood work. After the 9 hours was up, the doctor came into my room and said (with great shock) “you’re still alive!”… “I guess it wasn’t a heart attack, you may go now”.
You can’t end stigma. It’s an opinion someone has because of a label. Changing the label won’t help either. Semantics. All you need to do after reading this article is be a better person. Treat people with dignity and respect, regardless of any label they might have. Sure, you’ve got problems. We all do.