If I was appointed to give a speech to a large number of people, what topic would I choose?

The stigma of mental illness is the topic I’d choose. Because shame from bullying or even a simple lack of understanding of persons with mental illness is very detrimental to the health of those affected as well as our communities. It leaves the person with mental illness doubting themselves and backing off from social interaction to avoid the feeling of hopelessness and end up in isolation.

Instead, the person with mental illness should try to be social as opposed to isolation. Even connecting online, if in-person is not an option, in order to realize that these feelings are not just your own, but others feel them as well.  Don’t allow your mental illness to define you because there is power in language. Don’t allow ignorance to influence how you see yourself. Don’t allow the judgments of others affect you personally; the wrongdoers don’t even know you.

I’d choose to speak about this subject, if I had to, to bring about change. Change to a neutral language instead of condescending euphemisms and offensive language. We’re not victims, invalids, or defective. Those are painful to hear but need to be talked about so those ignorant about mental illnesses know it’s wrong and hurtful. Disability is not an illness and people with disabilities are not patients. We’re successful people that deserve to be referred to in a balanced manner. Our lives are not simply tearjerkers. We are resilient and deserve to be free of stigma.



One surefire way to go into relapse is not taking medications. Why or how would that occur? Degree of insight into the illness, disorganized thinking (forgetfulness of a complex meds regimen), prescription costs, negative side effects, or stigma towards taking anti-psychotics. For the longest time I thought that I was in control of my problem and that nothing really was wrong: I wrote the symptoms off as other things (PTSD or anxiety). Then I took meds for another more acceptable problem (depression). I shouldn’t have hidden my symptoms for so long; but I was afraid.

What are other possible reasons for a possible relapse? Susceptibility to stressful interpersonal conflicts, adherence to the complex meds schedule, or discouragement are but a few. My family knows to watch for the signs of relapse: withdrawal from social situations, changes in sleep patterns or eating habits, staying focused, controlling behavior, being obsessive or compulsive, fear of common things or places, strange or risky behaviors, feeling targeted, or definitely seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.

It is difficult enough with all the possibilities of relapse; but the one we shouldn’t have to worry about is stigma. Myths and misperceptions are preventable.People with schizophrenia aren’t serial killers or don’t have split personalities. Shame, humiliation, and/or isolation need not be another things that people with schizophrenia need to cope with in addition to all the other reasons for relapse.

Do you prefer being called schizophrenic or mentally ill?

mentallyhealthyI was asked this question yesterday and I was quite uncertain as to how I felt about the terminology in that given moment. After some thought, I’m not concerned about how others refer to me. Their words would be a reflection upon them and not me. I do recognize that I have a chronic mental illness which requires ongoing medication and my diagnosis is schizophrenia. I’m also quite aware of the stigma of such terms and that others in my situation have strong preferences such as being called clients at the upscale psychiatric office where I’m seen. Obviously, the hospital refers to us as patients but when in doubt ask the person who is affected. They/I/We are human and like any other would appreciate the opportunity for input in the matter. Plus, we may want the chance to get it out there on the table instead of hiding it from our everyday life.

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