abortion, christianity, decency, disease, dumping, essay, homeless, inhumane, jesus, mental health, mental illness, mentally ill, pregnancy, psychiatric, psychiatry, schizophrenia], schizophrenics, severe mental illness, Treatment, writer, writing
At dinner, my husband and I tell each other two good things that happened during our day. Yesterday, I told him, the love note he left for me in the little mailbox I keep on my writing desk, and having lunch with a friend, were the best things that happened to me. Then I told him, other than that, it was a depressing, infuriating, sad day.
It seemed like everywhere I looked yesterday the topic of schizophrenia or mental illness came up. There was an article about the woman who was pushing her dead child in a swing for two days. It turns out she has schizophrenia and was noncompliant with her medication.
There was an article written by a man with schizophrenia who claimed in the first sentence of his essay that schizophrenia was the worst illness you could have. The writer went on to write about his need for forced medication. It was a story that I found stigmatizing.
Then there was the article written by a fairly well-known writer that made sweeping generalizations about all people with schizophrenia, and she referred to us repeatedly as “schizophrenics” which is a term that most people with schizophrenia dislike because it puts the illness before the person. In other words, it identifies a person by their illness rather than by the millions of other things they are, like, do, talents they have, their career, or whatever.
On a Facebook status a woman wrote that calling someone mentally ill was the “most malicious and vile slur imaginable.” (I probably don’t need to point out that one in four Americans are mentally ill and we don’t consider our disease a slur).
But there are two things that topped off the day. I read an article about “dumping” where psychiatric facilities put chronically medically ill people on a bus and ship them to California. They do not send them to California to be with relatives or to go to a treatment center; they send them to California, so they are out of their cities and towns and not “cluttering up their streets.”
I almost can’t continue typing at this point. We, those of us with a severe mental illness, are the unwanted, the eye-sores, the throwaways, the not-to-be-seen, less-than-human, people that are being put on buses so people can get rid of us.
All of this was enough for me for one day. I decided to read a book about Jesus. I was reading the book, The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey and on page 32 the author writes about Mary being pregnant and how she was an unwed teenager and how today, that pregnancy would probably lead to abortion. Then I read this, “…and her talk of having conceived as a result of the intervention of the Holy Ghost would have pointed to the need for psychiatric treatment, and made the case for terminating her pregnancy even stronger.”
There is so much I can say about that quote. I will let you think about it though, and simply ask this question, “Do most people believe that women with a mental illness should terminate their pregnancies?”
With so much stigma, so much misinformation, so much fear, so much inhumanity, so much misunderstanding, so much disdain, I don’t always know how to put one foot in front of the other. I don’t always know how to shake all this stuff off. I don’t always know how to keep my head up and keep going.
People talk about the horror of kicking a puppy, the cruelty of hurting something so vulnerable and innocent. For one hour, for one day, let’s talk about the cruelty inflicted on the mentally ill. It’s real, do you find that as disturbing as kicking a puppy?
At dinner tonight, I will search for the two best things that happened today, so I can keep up my husband’s and my nightly ritual, but so that you know, those two things don’t outweigh the truth about how many severely mentally ill are treated. Finding two things right with my day doesn’t overshadow all that is wrong.