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It is my pet peeve when someone calls themselves or someone else schizophrenic. I am a person with schizophrenia, not a schizophrenic.

There is a popular nonprofit that publishes personal stories from people who have schizophrenia and other disabilities. The writers of these personal essays frequently call themselves schizophrenic along with the VP of the organization. I feel, and of course, this is only my opinion, that the nonprofit that wants to raise awareness and reduce or eliminate stigma should, at least, be educating people about “people first” language.

I don’t have a right to insist that other people use “people first” language, but I do have a right to educate people that I find illness first language degrading and defining and way outdated.

Everything I write on my blog here and on Psych Central is to show that people with schizophrenia have endless labels or roles (lawyer, teacher, coach, student, brother, sister, wife, husband, mom, dad, etc.). Those labels are far more important than the fact that they have an illness called schizophrenia.

I have read several essays recently where the person who is writing the essay writes, “I am a schizophrenic.”

I don’t wear schizophrenia as a badge. I’m not proud of it (I’m not ashamed of it either) but you won’t find me parading that label around as if it is the only thing about me that is important.

It is the least interesting and important thing about me.

I’m sorry if you are tired of reading this same message over and over again. I feel like it is something I will write hundreds of times before I stop writing. In my time as an advocate, if I get that one message to stick with people, I will feel that I have done something extremely important.

Lovely, lovely, whole, beautiful people, please don’t limit you by defining yourself as an illness. The world is a marvelous, wondrous, and big place, you are a significant part of it, your illness is tiny, don’t let it overtake you.