Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why should I go outside? Ya'll treat me like a leper anyway.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." ~ United States Declaration of Independence

You know, I'm an American.  But I'm not allowed to enjoy some of my basic unalienable rights, if any, like most Americans do.

For example, I do not have the liberty of free speech.  I can talk a good game, and I can even blog about it on ye ole internet here, which some of you will say that this is the freedom of the press as well as free speech.  But as with all blog sites there's a terms of service/use clause I had to agree to in order to be allowed to write here.  So, by default, I'm not allowed to say exactly what's going on in my head.

I can't go to work and tell one of the girls that's really just pissing me off right now to take the corn cob stuck up her ass and eat it for all the shit she's been talking on the job.  Mainly because I think the way I'd say it would not only offend her, but would scare the shit out of her as well as get me fired.

I'm not allowed the right to bear arms and protect myself.  Because, for those reading, you know I have bi-polar disorder, and for me to own and carry a weapon frightens the fuck out of you.  Despite my reasons for wanting to carry a weapon in the first place.

As a mental patient receiving mental health services at a government hospital, I have limited privacy.  The doctors and nurses have the right to search and seize anything on my person, without probable cause...for their own safety.

And the same thing holds true for self-incrimination.  I have to carefully word EVERYTHING I say when I talk to ANYONE, doctors and nurses included, friends and family, because since I am a mental patient, it will *automatically* be held against me....whether in a court of law or in the court of human perception.

As a mentally ill individual, I'm constantly judged by a jury of my's called the world.  But I don't get the chance to confront my accusers of anything I may or may not have done, because I'm not allowed the value of reasonable doubt.  I'm already guilty, just because I'm sick.  It's not like I asked to get sick with a mental illness.  Just so happens, that it turned out that way.  And a fuck-ton of other things happened to me, which have molded and shaped me into the badass bitch writing this post today.  I have no intention of letting it continue on in the fashion it has been over the last 15 years, but you can bet that being bi-polar isn't something you can just "turn off."  I don't give a shit who the fuck you think you are.  If I knew how, I would have done it a long time ago.

It's the same case with MANY other individuals you see or hear about on the news who have committed a crime.  BEFORE YOU STOP READING, AND BEFORE YOU START COMMENTING HALF COCKED: STOP AND THINK A MINUTE!!!

What the hell did I just write mere paragraphs before that last bit there???  You've already got a preconceived notion about who I am, or who anyone else with a mental illness is without even getting to know us.  You don't know or understand our struggles, but oh you're fucking quick to judge us aren't you?  It's ok for you to have a bad day & swear up a blue streak, but if you know someone like me, who needs to take medication on a daily basis so we don' get scared, you judge what you don't know or understand, you ridicule, you tease and oh do you like to make fun of us.

People go spouting off about new gun control laws, arming teachers in schools (ever stop and think that maybe, just maybe, one of those teachers or principals might have a mental illness too??  Hmmm??  What if they snapped, lost it, starting threatening students or other staff?? ), and little else is done about getting the right type of health care for people like us who desperately need it!  I might be "lucky" because I served my country, BUT it was the things I did for my country that kicked started this whole tornado in my head.  And don't sit there and try to tell me that you know differently, because I've got the documentation to prove it, thankyouverymuch.

And what about parents who deal with children who have autism, Aspberger's syndrome, childhood  anxiety, disruptive behavior disorders, all of which are classified as mental illnesses, by the way, what do you think about them?  What do you think about the child?  Is their struggle any less difficult?  They don't have any rights either because the collective American society has stripped them from them without cause, compassion, or a second thought.

Ever think that maybe, just maybe, all we need is a damned hug??  Or someone to freaking talk to who WON'T judge us, who'll just listen??  Or someone who will show just a bit of compassion sometime?  I bet you haven't.

Hell, living like this on a day to day basis is cruel and unusual punishment.  Can't even get away from it for one day.  Another basic inalienable right that's stripped from me just because I'm sick.

I'm not condoning anything criminal anyone has done in the past that have been proven to have a mental illness.  I'm not saying that at all.  What I *AM* saying, is that there are millions of people, let me repeat that, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, who suffer from mental illness everyday.  One in four Americans is diagnosed with some form of mental illness every year.  According to national statistics, 1 in 4 adults experience a mental health problem in any given year. These common triggers may be increases in stress, financial worry or strained relationships with others.

But I'm here to tell you that I'm not going to back down.  I'm going to fight.  I'm going to keep on movin' on, and fight for people like me who live every day without their rights to get them back and keep them.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with most of what you wrote.

    A person with any sort of nonconformity has to be so very careful, whether it is learning disabilities, "hidden" physical issues, non-gender conforming, or diagnosed mental illness. What is disclosed, to whom, and the timing, can make a difference in hiring, retention, and general working conditions.

    The reality is that, every person has individual abilities and needs. I walk with a cane sometimes, or crutches, but most of the time I don't need any help. And really -- my arms are VERY strong because they get extra exercise! But I don't tell people about the physical issues until they see me with the cane. I feel I have to prove I am "as good as" a person who doesn't walk with a cane... even though my profession doesn't technically require cross-country bipedalism. I can sit to teach, I can use a cart to move objects I can't carry in one arm... on the rare occasions I need to. No different than when I broke a toe and used crutches for two weeks. Only I need the cane several times a year most years.

    But still, there is a stigma attached.

    My strategy is to let people show me, or tell me, what they need, and to work with them as best I can. It's too easy to avoid or to ignore people who look different, act different, or who need additional support. I know that many people who look like they "can't" do a better job than most. I know from having a "hidden disability" myself that not everyone who looks "normal" can do normal things. I have too many friends, family and acquaintances who are "different" in some way to fall into the trap of assuming.

    And yet...

    There are some people I know whose issues really do make them dangerous, people I have had to walk away from and cut from my life. People who I hope never learn where I live and never have access to weapons. There are some people I don't tell where I live, or give my phone number to.

    Sometimes, it is prudent to not allow certain privileges (such as denying a driver's license to a person with a known seizure disorder) in the interest of the wider community. It is prudent to restrict access to weapons for people who are statistically more likely to resort to violence. It is not prudent to paint all people in a loosely defined group with the same brush.

    Most people who have "mental illness" (which includes things like post-partum depression, which I had with all my pregnancies) truly are not dangerous. The best way to stop the hysteria we see in the media and by government officials is to get information about the realities of life for people with mental illness, and the people who care about them. We need to show the A-bilities more than the DIS-abilities. And we need, as a society, to learn compassion as well as trust.

    That some individuals hurt others is a fact. It is also a fact that MOST people -- statistically approaching 100% over history do NOT hurt others on purpose except in perceived self-defense.

    I wish that the stigma of mental illness would disappear, like the stigma of physical limitation is beginning to do in the United States.