Updated: Dec 4, 2018
" What gets published about people with Schizophrenia in the media generally only seems to be shown and talked about when they have done something terrible or even just suspected of it – it’s the word they use - Schizophrenia.
Despite common held beliefs, a lot of people with this illness do live in everyday communities. They can in fact make meaningful contributions that seem to largely be ignored by most people - in favour of the worst examples of humanity that are probably more prevalent amongst people without this diagnosis in modern society.
If you were told that the person writing this was a University Graduate, had graduated with lacking support during a psychotic break and finished a degree despite being unwell, that may provide a different context to the perceived nature of people with this illness and how ‘seriously’ it’s treated by under funded Trusts. You wouldn’t have expected them to have run a small business, or find themselves being the ‘office temp’ that became a member of a senior management team in five years of working through different roles within a respected company. You wouldn’t expect them to have been able to afford a property near London - let alone look after it and themselves properly. They wouldn’t know the writer of this even has Schizophrenia, as it’s not socially acceptable to say that and you probably wouldn’t believe the person if they told you. People can talk about depression, stress and anxiety in mental health campaigns, but is this where we draw the line because it’s less prevalent and too extreme? This is missing the point.
We are not what you may think we are. It’s a relapsing condition that people live with, and it means that every so often hospitals and support are needed to allow some breathing space from it all. Life is stressful like for anyone else, and whether medication works well or the person still has residual symptoms they have to deal with, nothing seems to make this an acceptable illness to even talk about in everyday circumstances - period. Even family when discussing the issue do absolutely everything to avoid even speaking the word it’s so stigmatising. If I was diabetic and needed insulin to correct my body from a malfunction, I would not have to hide it and keep it a secret from everybody. The truth is for a lot of people, the medication we have allows people to stabilise and yes, in some cases recover or go into remission. It’s apparently just an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, and perhaps your environmental stressors that caused it growing up - as well as some faulty genes for good measure.
Some of the nicest people I have ever met have been in acute mental health wards. Despite being so ill that they act on things - myself included, I strongly believe that I have had the best conversations with people I don’t know there than in the ‘real’ world. For every stay, there is a small community in that moment where in the main, it’s ok to talk and be open about this. Once you leave, the rules change. If like me socialising is difficult because of certain things that have created these issues, isolation is generally how the world deals with this problem. I mean it in both senses of how you could interpret that sentence. We’re isolated from society as pariahs – even by those campaigning for mental health issues through being ignored, and we’re also on our own and missing each other’s company as no one else wants to value us. Like I said, if I told you as a working professional that I had this illness, you either wouldn’t believe me or we would never interact on a personal level again. I work and outside of that I only exist on the periphery of the Internet in just one of a few online communities that only have each other.
The mental health services promote recovery in sessions with patients, and have to fight to convince them this is possible despite the odds. I think it’s clear why people with this diagnosis find that hard to believe. This issue undermines their support networks, and the things that other people take for granted disappear from under their feet – a lot of the time at a relatively young age. There are many people like me who have to hide in plain sight and keep quiet despite the suffering inside. We try our best to live like other people, but with the knowledge that if you met a person to be with - whether as a partner or socially, you would have this terrible secret to tell them. I had friends before, I know what happens when you tell them you have Schizophrenia – they disappear.
You may wonder why I am discussing this issue and I can assure the reader that I am not a self-promoter who thinks they should have some gratification. I won’t even tell you who I am. Members of the cohesive community I belong to online told me to write this, as they want me to tell you that your perception is wrong. That’s how we feel and it’s creating a health crisis in my community that we get treated this way and I quote, “Lack meaningful representation – even from mental health campaigners”. I hope you can change your mind about this illness, and not allow the generally derogatory use of the label in news broadcasts by irresponsible media sources to allow you to believe that in your perfect world, I am not standing next to you on the bus, being dangerous. I am just unapproachable due to wholesale prejudice against a condition I cannot help but have. Sorry it wasn’t the insulin, I guess that was my fault. " - Un-disclosed poster