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Today is our first real fall day in San Diego. Yesterday, it was in the 80’s, but today is overcast. We have the windows open, and there is a breeze coming in off the waterfront a mile away. It is cozy and cool, and occasionally I look out the big window in the dining room and see a large inflatable pumpkin in the neighbor’s yard.

Halloween is coming. Usually, on Halloween, my husband and I go to a busier part of the city (a few miles from our home), sit in a coffee shop and watch the people come in and out of bars in their costumes. This year, there is a community party in a high rise about five blocks from our house so we thought we would try to meet some of our neighbors by attending. Yesterday, I found a Halloween dress with pumpkins and witches on it for under twenty dollars, so I ordered it. My husband said, if it doesn’t fit me, then he will wear it. Of course, he won’t wear the dress because it wouldn’t be a harmless Halloween costume in 2017. We have to be sensitive to the transgender population. Just like when my husband’s friend wanted to dress up as an Arab man for Halloween and thought my husband and I would think he was so clever (my husband is from an Arab country, and we both attended school in Egypt).

So many things that pass as costumes are offensive to one group or another. I love seeing people dressed up as superheroes, witches, cartoon characters, famous people, Harry Potter, or thousands of other things…a bunch of grapes, a huge condom, a candy bar, or whatever. Of course this year, like every previous year, Amazon and other outlets are selling some version of “the psycho” costume. This year, it is titled, “Cell Block Psycho Adult Halloween Costume.” It is just a bit different from last year’s “psycho” costume. I find the “psych ward” type stuff to be so incredibly insensitive,  and stigmatizing (yes, my illness is a costume for you to be afraid of, or laugh at, or what? Admire?)

Besides costumes, this is the time of year for binge-watching horror films. Do a quick Google search of, “horror films schizophrenia, ” and you will get a list like the one linked to here. If you are curious, go to the link and read about the characters in the films they claim have schizophrenia. Any of you that are even remotely familiar with the symptoms of schizophrenia will immediately see the stereotypes, misinformation and general ignorance. Most of the characters have some form of dissociative identity disorder (used to be called multiple personalities) which has absolutely nothing in common with schizophrenia. (People with that disorder don’t deserve to be the “monsters” either).

October is a challenging time for people with a mental illness – people find our illnesses to be spooky, creepy, edgy, scary, and worthy of main characters in a horror film. This reality is demeaning, offensive and of course, ignorant.

For those of you who think I am without humor, or too serious, all I have to say is it must be nice to have never seen yourself as a costume on Halloween or a monster in a horror movie.