These are a few tenets that I have adopted over the past year to do my part to reduce what I believe is a real humanitarian issue: treatment towards the mentally ill. As I personally studied these ailments independently, partly out of curiousity and partly out of desire to understand the diagnosis's of those around me that I loved, I came to realize that I had not known as much as I thought I did about the different disorders- if anything at all. Over time, and personal contemplating I developed these tenets that I am going to share with you.
Please, if you read this, take into consideration what I have to say.
1) It's just a medical condition!
Really, it's just that. Mental illness is no moral fault, it's nothing no one asks for, and is certainly not something we can control completely. So why are those of us who have been diagnosed (or are in denial of our symptoms) so ashamed to publically declare it? Part of the reason is that we haven't really acknowledged as people that it is just a medical problem. You wouldn't be ashamed to have cancer or be embarrassed to explain your allergy to peanuts, would you? Why should you be?
No, your ailment is never your identity, but its these small things about us that have a part in making us who we are: unique, perfectly made individuals.
Anyone who reads this and is afflicted by a mental disorder know that you are loved and valuable. So if you are in denial of your symptoms- don't be! You are just too precious to allow yourself to be living in secrecy, shame, and the struggle of solitarily dealing with your symptoms. Do not fear the labels a diagnosis will bring. You deserve to seek the treatment which will help you live a fulfilling, fuctional life. It's the rest of us that need to be more accomidating to you.
Mental illness is not to be mocked, used as a label, or a reason to discriminate. An informed and educated society is a fair and harmonious one.
2) The TV is a Stigma's Best-Friend
I don't care how smart Spencer Reid might sound while he's listing facts about schizophrenics- Criminal Minds is a tv show! An entertaining one, yes. But one which features countless twisted facts, psedo-sciences and myth-busted theories, half-presented truths, and somethings which are just plain make believe.
This is what makes the media so dangerous for the mentally ill. And it's not just Criminal Minds which does it, it seems to be common practice in all forms of media.
By constantly writing the schizophrenic as the loose-canon serial killer because it's good television, writers and producers are essentially turning people afflicted with the disorder into threats to society in the public eye. A poor trade-off, if you ask me.
Now let me ask you: when's the last time you heard of a diagnosed schizophrenic killing anyone on the news? Now, how many killings did you see just today? I'm guessing none of those were by "crazy maniacs"? No, I'll bet that they were in fact by normal people.
True, not all serial killers on crime shows are insane. But then again, whenever there does happen to be someone diagnositically insane, they are virtually always a serial killer.
I'm not trying to say that all tv is bad and shouldn't be watched. My point here is that you can't trust a show which is designed and catagoried for entertainment to educate. It's silly. When you have studied these things, only then can you have a right to feel as if you know everything. It's okay to watch a show for fun. Just remember its a show; don't swallow everything you hear, be discerning. Be wise.
And it's not just schizophrenics that are being misrepresented all the time. (Though I do believe that the disorder has gotten the worst of what the media can do.)
Which brings me to my third tenet.
3) "Bipolar" is a Medical Condition, Not an Adjective
This is something that my generation is particularly guilty of, using the names of these disorders- or abbreviations of them- like they are adjectives (and usually as negative ones).
Well, here's some news for you: they're not.
I don't care if it feels over the topic to say this: using the words "bipolar" or "ocd" to describe anything that you don't like is abusive of the terms and promotive of the stigmas. Forget that it is gramatically incorrect- it's morally wrong!
Using any word in a negative fashion, over time, puts negative connotations on a word. The meaning of "crazy" is so confused now when you think about it. How did it get that way? Mostly from being misused as a slur everytime someone got pissed-off and flinging it at someone they couldn't be bothered to deal with like an adult. Now it's this weak, albiet unlike-able label.
No wonder people with bipolar mania and ocd are so ashamed to announce their diagnosis to even the people they should feel most secure around. The words already carry so much hate-loaded baggage piled on by all of us.
Most people don't even really know what bipolar mania, OCD, and DID (you might wrongfully call this last one Multiple Personality disorder) are. Yeah, they might think they do but they don't. If you have not legitimatly researched or studied any of these disorders, I dare you to go and do so. Tell me if that was the same exact knowledge name-calling spewage gave you.
My point is this: if you want to help end the stigmas on mental illness, refuse, from this point on to misuse any of the names or nicknames thereof of all mental disorders and their appropriate symptoms (this would include crazy, insane, mad, pyscho, loony, etc). Sure it will be hard and you won't be able to stop using them overnight, but your commitment to a better world is what matters most. Just keep in mind that your vocabulary is big enough to find a word which is actually appropriate to say what you want to.