I read articles by many people that I would consider what I call, culture changers. Of course, they are all writers and some are also professors at universities and colleges. For the past six months I have read many articles by these culture changers with words and concept I didn’t formerly know: white privilege, heteronormative, cisgender, POC, marginalized, heterosexism, misogyny and others.
According to these culture changers I am part of a group that experiences extreme privilege (white privilege) as opposed to POC (persons or people of color). But I am also a woman so I am the target in many arenas of misogyny.
Here is the thing, I am certain as a middle class white woman who is straight and cisgender, that I have many privileges when it comes to jobs, my chances of ending up in jail, how people treat me on the street, and many other circumstances and opportunities. But, none of these privileges outweigh the fact that I have schizophrenia and belong to one of the most stigmatized and marginalized groups in this country. If a POC or a white woman with schizophrenia applied for a job, who would you hire?
When people know I have schizophrenia that is what they see and hear first about me as a person.
According to my estimation, the only way I could be worse off in the current culture of this society is to be a POC with schizophrenia, or a poor person with schizophrenia. That is where my privilege really comes in. I am more privileged than the person yelling at voices in the street and sleeping under a bridge. I am more privileged than a POC with schizophrenia who is more apt to end up in jail than with treatment.
I bring this up, because we are the voiceless and the invisible. Sure, jokes are made about us daily on social media, and people like the sensationalism of schizophrenia (the horrible, dark history, and the thought of people screaming in padded rooms). But beyond being characters for people to fear and make fun of, we are not seen as a real group, a real player in the field with issues of marginalization, or discrimination.
The culture changers have so far overlooked us and excluded us from the conversations that are happening to strengthen the voices and appearance, and place of other groups in society. I hope one day soon that people with a severe mental illness will be included instead of excluded as we are unfortunately use to.
I can hear my voice, and I can see myself in the world. Can you hear me? Can you see me? I feel invisible in the current cultural climate and conversations.