I can’t believe I actually had to type that, but here we are.
Here’s the reality of this moment: most of us living with severe mental illnesses are so aware of the stigma surrounding our mental illnesses that we don’t say anything. We go through this life using coping mechanisms so that you likely aren’t aware of how hard things can be. You put us in this paradox – creating a world that won’t allow us to be both disabled and successful. So you know that when you come for us, we probably won’t say anything.
And I am so tired of it.
In the past twenty-four hours, well-meaning liberals have posted articles with headlines like Trump made it easier for the mentally ill to get guns when he rolled back Obama regulation and I saw a think piece about mass shootings were normal – not a mental illness. Y’all – I get the desire to place blame on the President, but honestly? “Made it easier for the mentally ill to get guns”? Mental illness isn’t normal? Today, a comedian shared a photo joking about psychiatric care for the President. Your ableism is showing, and it’s adding to the stigma.
When I started this blog, someone told me not to put my name on it because I would miss out on jobs. And this is why. Because y’all think it’s okay to post articles that make it sound like those of use with severe mental illnesses are mass murderers and we’re not.
Speaking of the President – while addressing gun reform today, he said “Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun.” And I know a lot of people who would agree with him.
So here’s a list of things my mental illness does:
-makes me stay up all night
-makes me never want to leave my bed
-makes me move when I’m anxious
-makes me lack impulse control
-makes me want to punch a wall
Notice how killing people and being a white supremacist are conveniently found nowhere on this list. Here’s the thing: is it possible that someone who is a mass murderer also has a mental illness? Sure. But only talking about mental health in the aftermath of a shooting is harmful. In case you’re reading this and you think: Oh but you’re not like that kind of mentally ill person – you’re wrong. I’ve been in therapy for ten years, I take eight pills a day, I have experienced depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mania. I am exactly that kind of mentally ill. And the burden shouldn't be on us to continue to tell you that what you're doing is wrong.
So here’s my plea for y’all who are trying to, want to be, or are pretending to be allies: stop reposting or giving attention to articles with harmful and ableist language in them. Even if they criticize someone you want to criticize.
For those of y’all who support the President: denounce his unwillingness to address racist chants and cheers at his rallies, denounce his previous racist and dehumanizing statements, and denounce this ridiculous and unnecessarily harmful view of mental illness. You probably won’t, but I thought I’d ask for parallelisms sake.
And to those of you who walk through this life with severe mental illnesses: you are nothing but light. If you’re in the middle of an episode or if you’re stable, your opinions are valid. Keep your head down this week if you need to, or fight the fight this week if you need to, but never stop believing that you are loved and seen.