acitivist, advocacy, Advocate, bigotry, courage, disability, discrimination, equality, fear, gay, hate, injustice, inspiration, marriage, mental health, mental illness, mentalism, mentally ill, person of color, racism, relationships, schizophrenia, sexism, stigma, Voice, writing
I don’t want the people at my husband’s office to know that I have schizophrenia. I know that some of them already know, because I have come out so publically about it, but if I had my way none of them would know.
The reason behind this is sad but simple, I don’t want people to look at my husband and think “Why would you marry a woman with schizophrenia?”
I am no fool. I know what the majority of people think about having a mental illness, and particularly schizophrenia. I know from experience that even knowing me doesn’t change the lifetime of stereotypes built up in most people’s minds.
I have written so many articles about the language we use that is degrading to people with a mental illness and I have “friends” (and boy, do I use that term loosely), who seem to delight in using that language more than ever. I know that these people’s thoughts are small. The fact that they make personal attacks against me is actually immature and lame. I think it is because I am now a threat. I study. I read. I call people out on racism, sexism, mentalism, and any other forms of hate and bigotry when I see it. I call them out, because injustice and discrimination against even one group is too many and there is an intersection between all inequality and injustice. The intersection for me is that I am a woman who has a disability. The intersection for someone else might be that they are a person of color with a disability, or they are gay and a person of color.
In any case, I am calling people out. I know people don’t like to be called out. They don’t like to think that they are the ones who are displaying ignorance, discrimination, and hatred publically and openly. I get it. I have become the voice that many people don’t want to hear. I’m that uncomfortable person who lets people know their jokes are offensive and not funny. I get their resentment. I get their desire to live in their current way of thinking. Change isn’t easy – it comes with a price.
I can’t imagine how lonely it is for some people who have stood up in the past, or that continue to stand up. I haven’t found my people yet, those people who understand exactly what I mean and what I am fighting for, and why it is important not to stereotype, demonize, or dehumanize any group of people. I have a feeling I’m closer to discovering my crowd – people that will take the risks necessary to make people uncomfortable, and force change.
The truth is I think that I have guts and courage when it comes to a lot of things, but I am a ragdoll without bones when it comes to people judging my husband. He doesn’t care about other people’s judgement. He doesn’t care if they don’t understand the depth of true love that really does honor the vow – in sickness and in health.
I have to tell you though, he’s my weak spot where advocacy is concerned and I want to hide my illness to protect him. For that, I feel like my advocacy has limits and that I am a coward.