Yesterday I had an interview and today I was working around the issues of bullying at school. It strangely sums up my already unwritten talk for tomorrow about Mental Health and Stigma [ 4pm at India Habitat Centre, Delhi ] – where there is a ‘person behind the label…every label’ and nobody seems to try to get that right.
Most people have assumed and concluded that all schizophrenics are the same. In fact, I have even been patronized by those with other labels who always seem to know better than the schizophrenic. It is likely why depression isn’t given so much of an importance when we speak of Mental Health issues because even those with depression seem to know better than the one with psychosis. A conclusion shared by legal experts, psychiatrist and many other professionals.
So here is my bit on the kind of responses I have had from those with the label of mental health issues and how stigma exist at the most preposterous levels:
1. Person with depression: See, I know what’s it like to feel like that but I can function. The trouble with him (schizophrenic) is he still has his delusions about everyone.
2. Person with anxiety: I take my meds cause I think it helps me. You should take yours you know. Schizophrenia is worse than anxiety and I can’t imagine how you can say living without medications is okay.
3. Person with bipolar: You should learn to come back 10 steps down and listen to others. You must tame yourself for others to understand you better. Stop thinking so much of yourself.
4. Person with borderline: Cut your nonsense and come and socialize. You can’t keep being inside.
5. Person with OCD: I kinda get what you are saying, but I still manage to get work done with my OCD.
6. Person with schizophrenia on medications: That is not true. You should take your meds because I know what it is like to be without them. It is very difficult. I don’t think you have schizophrenia if you are without meds.
…somehow it is always others telling me what I should do or should not do. These are people with their own labels of a mental health condition. It is not their condition that defines them but the kind of people that they are. And unfortunately society comprises of the same lot.
So I am to conclude that the whole of society is actually messed up in their brains – each thinking they are right and that they are entitled in telling another person what is wrong with them.
When I restate there is a ‘person behind the label’ – this is what I meant. As a society each person is responsible for the kind of thoughts they allow themselves to eat.
And to many others with such labels, you are a person to me and I take time in explaining myself to you. It doesn’t make me a better person by doing so. But I am done doing it – since you’ve already chosen to see yourself as a label and a disorder. I won’t be reduced to it however.
#TheSchizophrenist ©Reshma Valliappan 2016