Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No Hope On The Horizon

It seems like there is no hope on the horizon for people who have the EQ [emotional quotient] of a pea.

I logged into Blogger to begin writing this entry and was sidetracked reading AC's GainingInsight entry posted earlier today. I had a similar reaction that she did, only it was to a stigmatizing post at a website that I write for.

It hurts me that some people have no compassion for those of us diagnosed and living with mental illnesses. I spent the better part of last Friday upset about this. People diagnosed with schizophrenia need to be treated with dignity just like anyone else. We deserve extra respect for dealing with this medical condition every day. Schizophrenia doesn't take a holiday. It doesn't discriminate against who it chooses to devastate.

And: I realize I'm lucky I haven't experienced stigma in over a decade. That will change when I publish my memoir, Left of the Dial. A therapist told me most people would be supportive and the unlikeliest people would not be. I keep the diagnosis to myself when I first meet someone and do not feel the need to tell everyone I meet.

You might ask how it is that I haven't experienced any stigma and I wouldn't know what to tell you except that God or the Universe possibly had a hand in this because it's all part of the plan for my life: to educate others and to uplift and inspire people. The greater goal is what will determine whether you disclose: if disclosing would destroy your chance of a better opportunity I would not do so.

A friend who has schizophrenia who was the CEO of a company told me that if he disclosed, he would not have an inspiring story to tell others because he wouldn't have become a CEO. So you have to determine whether not being open and honest would be the greater good in the long term. He is now an advocate.

The reality is that even today, circa 2009, stigma exists and is destructive to everyone involved.

Last night as I wrote in the hardbound journal a friend gave me I thought long and hard about my decision to be open and honest to the people who would benefit from hearing my life story. Who else would risk making this choice? Again and again as I wrote about this I kept questioning why I feel so strongly about my role as a mental health activist. I understand that I'm a woman committed to a cause just like anyone else committed to a charity. Some women devote their time to breast cancer. My cause just happens to be mental health.

You see: in August 2004 I was the featured reader at the poetry reading and I read the breakdown scene from my memoir and the positive ending of the book. Why did I feel compelled to do that? I was met only with compliments after I left the stage.

I have told you in here before that I do this because I believe in my vision that people can recover from schizophrenia. Even though I know that is why I do this I still grapple with my choice. "I have taken the road less traveled and that made all the difference" as the expression goes.

I wouldn't expect most people to understand this. Not those of us who keep sacred the status quo. Do you understand my decision? Do you find it odd that I've been accepted? I wonder about this. I can only speak for myself: the astrologer told me I have six planets in Earth in my natal chart and that accounts for why I'm so grounded and non-threatening to people. S. told me: "It's as if you never really exited the premises."

Even though that is so I wouldn't judge another person even if to other people he or she came across as a little off. We Are The One, remember?

It begs the question as to whether someone can tell you have schizophrenia. A woman who found out accidentally about me claimed you couldn't tell by looking at someone.

It is scary and sad and troubling that someone like Perez Hilton pigeonholes people who are in distress and seek help.

Stigma is a disease. I would find no joy in being accepted by someone who does not accept all of us living with a mental health issue. Then again by Perez Hilton's standards I'm just plain "wacko" and so is Mischa Barton who he termed a "wacktress" for checking into a psychiatric ward. Who is he with a name like Perez Hilton to be judging other people?

This is about all the energy I have to expound on this topic.

Feel free to chime in with your comments.

Hello: I must be going.

I do not want to go off in another direction in this blog entry.

I would rather post a new one that has nothing to do with this topic.

My point exactly is that treating everyone with dignity doesn't appear to be the norm so is it any wonder people with mental illnesses are treated as less than zero?

This isn't about you or me or anyone with a diagnosis: it is always only about the hang-ups of the other person making the judgments.

As Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in his book The Four Agreements: don't take things personally.

Stigma hurts.

Recovery heals.

I urge you to choose recovery.

Be strong. Stand tall. Walk proud.

You are a star.

Shine on.

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