One day recently, at work, a coworker was going on a rant about something and she said, "If it doesn't make sense to do it, then it's CRAZY!! THAT'S THE DEFINITION OF CRAZY!! AND WHY WOULD YOU DO SOMETHING CRAZY??!!" I listened, and thought: A) You really don't know what crazy means or why the term is offensive when it's been used against your self, and B) How many times has this woman seen my blog? Does she read it? She has seen it on my computer, I'm sure.
Another day recently in a meeting of an organization I'm a member of, a woman said, "OH, maybe that was just one of my HALLUCINATIONS!!" Again I thought, A) You don't know what it's like to have your life destroyed by actual hallucinations, do you? and B) How many times has this woman seen my blog? How much does this woman know about me? She knows people who know I have a mental illness. What else does she know herself?
Today, and everyday, at work, people call (my job is to answer phone lines), and I think they're faking this call to really check up on me because either:
- They're from a government agency checking to see if I have a legitimate disability or not.
- They're from my job, checking to see if there is some reason to fire me.
- They're from the FBI or the CIA or some other intelligence agency checking up on me.
I'm so tired of hearing people belittle mental illness with their stupid snide comments. Today, I posted a link on Facebook to an article about how people who work in Apple Computer factories are being forced to sign contracts swearing that they will not commit suicide, because so many employees at those plants have killed themselves in the past couple years. One of my "friends" apparently thought this was a joke, putting a little face under it as if to say, "hahaha!" Yeah, suicide is so damn funny. I am really laughing about it myself. Ha. Ha. Ha. Dead people. Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh yeah, maybe that's not really amusing...
What is wrong with people? I am really confused, especially when I've told a person that I have a mental illness, or when I know they've seen my blog, and then they make jokes about mental illness. Like what about that is appropriate to you? What gives you that audacity? What makes you think you're funny when you belittle my life and the suffering of millions of people so you can be amusing? F. You.
I'm wondering if it would really make a difference if I just came right out and told everybody I meet that I have Schizoaffective Disorder, and then they would somehow become more sensitive about mental illness, but the truth is, I really don't think they would. I know that at times I'm paranoid, but I also know that at times, I'm not.
Another slightly annoying thing occurred recently when I had a psychiatric evaluation done by a doctor who is not my doctor at my community mental health center, but is the medical director of it. He is a very smart man, which seems clear when you speak to him. But when he asked me what I was going to college for, and what I wanted to do afterwards, I told him I really would like to be a mental health caseworker/ case manager and he said, "Hmmmm.... People with your condition have to be very careful about managing the stress in their lives, you know. People with your condition can get worse with stress. You might want to rethink that."
Wow. I didn't realize that stress could possibly affect me. Oh, yeah, that's right, I have a brain, so I guess this did occur to me before. I guess managing college, a part time job, and volunteer work in two organizations, plus moving apartments recently is not handling any stress at all!
Of course, he didn't mean to be offensive. But I did take offense. I do think I'm capable of being a case manager. Whether I can ever handle working full time is a different story. But if I can work full time, then I think that is a job I could handle. And, incidentally, my case manager thinks so too. So does my therapist. And both of them know me better than a doctor who has only spoken to me for 45 minutes tops.
This is just yet another example of people underestimating the capabilities of those of us who have serious mental illnesses. It happens all the time. I have even seen it happen within NAMI where people sometimes assume that everybody is as seriously ill as the people they know who are the least functional among us. And we're not all that dysfunctional, so sometimes this results in those of us who are "higher functioning" having our concerns ignored completely. A lot of our education meetings focus on caregiving and professional guardians, and running ALF's and things like that, which means the meetings are often for people who do not actually have mental illnesses, but are showing up because they deal with a severely ill person who can't fnction well on her own. I would like to see more meetings that address the concerns of those of us with mental illnesses who come to the meetings.
And while I don't like the terms "low functioning", and "high functioning", I do see a difference in the way some people who live with mental illnesses manage their lives compared to the way other people with mental illnesses can manage theirs. There are people with Schizoaffective Disorder who simply cannot do all that I can do for a variety of reasons, and there are many people with mental illnesses who can do much, much more than I'll ever be able to do, like Elyn Saks for example. Sometimes those without mental illnesses lump all of us together and categorize us all in the "low functioning" pool, where our successes are seen as bizarre. I find this offensive.
So now that I've told you some of what offends me, feel free to leave a comment about what offends you when you hear people talking about craziness, or mental illness. I know I'm not the only one who has these experiences.