I want to take a step back from posting about my current circumstantial issues affecting my mental health and instead concentrate on the bigger picture that affects us all.
I spend a lot of my life being ashamed of being straight and white. I am not ashamed of being ashamed of that.
I am self educated on the Horrors of history, the abhorrent ways “we”, as human beings, have treated other human beings because of the shade of their skin, because of who they love. You don’t need a history lesson from me, you can research the atrocities yourself.
One of the proudest moments of my life was as a young teenager, being sat in my seat at the football ground where my heart belongs, fans screaming, swearing, singing their own hearts out but in the Fog of chorused chants, I could hear the ‘Old Boys’ behind me, vomiting out racist dribble towards one of our oppositions players.
Back then, our average attendance was still well over 10,000. These veterans supporters were there every week, as was I. I looked about and saw the odd person pulling a face at them but no one cared enough to comment. It didn’t matter to me that the player couldn’t hear me, or them, it didn’t matter to me that as far as I could see, everyone in the stadium was white, but I took a stand. I vocalised my disgust. I shut them down and never heard a racist peep out of them again. That’s my level of morality.
So, what’s this got to do with mental health?
I’ve spent the day watching episodes of Cold Case recorded to my TV. An episode set in the 50s epitomising police brutality and social hatred towards African Americans. An episode set in the 80s involving the AIDS crisis and the disgusting, idiotic treatment of the gay communities. Then finally, an episodes set in the early 2000s but it was the modern-day segment of that one that got me thinking.
I’m not saying for one minute there’s a direct comparison between the treatment of African Americans, the non heterosexual community and those who are mentally ill but there are definitely similarities in the ignorance of racists homophobes and *insert name for people who discriminate and judge others based on their mental illness here* – ( I tried Google and researched some etymology but to avail. It’s that ‘acceptable’ in Society there’s not even a name for it. Yet.)
Back to the modern-day section of the 2000’s episode. The cops were pinning it on this guy with schizophrenia. They refused to give him his medication, he didn’t understand that he could ask for a lawyer, they shipped him off to a psychiatric unit where he was locked away in a ‘padded cell’ until the end of the episode when we found out the guy was innocent of the 00’s murder after all and he was released to a sunny backdrop and a rendition of some happy-go-lucky Pop Punk track from the year the murder happened.
I know it was only a few episodes of a fictional TV show but, one after the other, contextually, it’s really got me thinking about some things that have happened to me that I’ve never given much weight to but listen up and you might hear some very familiar things just related to something different.
- “I don’t want you associating with her.” (High school friends parents when finding out about my self harm.)
- “The way she behaves isn’t natural.”
- “It’s just a phase.”
- “I’m not being awful about her, I have mentally ill friends.”
- The time I got beat up because of my blog and talking about mental health 2 years ago. (Coincidentally that guy from the 80s episode of Cold Case was beat up and ‘accidentally’ killed because he wanted to raise awareness of AIDS.)
- People who know of me in real life and will follow my blog and Instagram then look down at their shoes when I smile at them in the street. (Afraid of association.)
- Countless police officers refusing to take me seriously after finding out about my health.
- Being locked in police cells and refused my medication.
- Some social workers refusing to check evidence I’ve provided.
- “No one will believe you, I’ll tell them it’s all in your head.” (Locked in someone’s house, ragged around, spat at, told my children would be set on fire.)
- Separated from my family.
- Taken in the night from my home, because I had reacted catatonically to lies made up about me, locked up in a place for weeks on end with less timely human rights than a terrorist, where if I didn’t “think” how they wanted me to I could be wrestled down and injected, even given electro compulsive therapy in this day and age.
- “Nutter.” “Whacko.” “Psycho.” Etc (Basically any time I’ve told a truth someone is uncomfortable with.)
I’ve even sat with the manager of a professional service and told her I am being discriminated against because of my diagnosis.
“Would you do this to a physically ill person who had experienced a diabetic coma?”
“No but it’s not the same.”
“Tell me how.”
“It’s just not.”
Sadly, we’ve been raised by a society that has made us believe the way we might experience life differently from the ‘majority’ is wrong. Brainwashed into thinking we have to change to ‘fit in’ or ‘be normal’. Who’s to say your Rose-tinted Ray-Bans are any more useful than my Gucci shades? Maybe I think it’s abnormal to see the injustices in this world and not feel suicidal? Maybe being desensitised to that is wrong instead?
I’m not saying it’s everyone, just as there have been allies who have battled alongside other minority Communities that have been discriminated against, there are other people, not mentally ill that defend and Guide Me. You could say that losing my faith in all services, (NHS, police, children’s services) is hypocritical – judging the whole workforce by the actions of the few – and I guess you’d be right to some extent – I never said I was perfect. But there’s a few of those people a lately, restoring that faith for me. I’ve told them so personally but as I’ve always promised to keep the anonymity of this blog intact so I won’t go into that right now.
I also have the two most supportive friends on the planet, who face adversity and threats themselves for standing up for people with problems like mine. I have other friends who do amazing things for me who help because, through relatives, have seen the impact of mental illness first-hand. I have groups of friends of an older generation who make me feel safe and welcome in the local community, who praise my talent for openess. I have some super brave girls (and occasionally boys) who pull me to one side when I’m out and about to tell me about their own experiences and sometimes just ask how I’m doing. My family are great at not blaming my mental health but sometimes confused over what is and isn’t illness related. Some people get it. Some people don’t.
Regardless of someone’s race, sexuality, religious views or health problems, there are good and bad people in all majority and minority groups and using derogatory tags from any of those groups, whether that be the ‘n word’ or calling someone a lunatic, without their consent and said in a mean way, is wrong. Even if two people from one of those groups call each other it. Judging someone’s capabilities because of the box you can squeeze them in is also categorically misguided and unethical. Some people with AIDS intentionally infected others. Some religiously affiliated people purposefully murdered innocent others. And don’t ever forget Schindler was still a Nazi.
See the person, not the box you get ‘told’ they belong in.
Society changes, one person at a time. I have a sneaky feeling, a few decades from now, there’ll be TV shows, set in today’s era, highlighting the common disgust of the future generation, shows depicting how my peers, some current professionals, the police, the media amongst others, currently treat those with mental illnesses.
Be the change.
Here’s looking at you kid.