Okay, so I read something today that really irritated me a little bit. I would like to remind people that when they use the term Mental Illness, that they are including everyone with a mental illness diagnoses in that term. Everyone from OCD sufferers to Bipolar to Schizophrenia and everything in between. So when using such a term it would be nice if people took a second to realize that what they are saying is about all of us.
I read an article today that said that crazy people do not know they are crazy..... They specifically used the term mental illness and I take major offense to that statement.
I take offense because if there is one thing I know for sure, I know that I am "crazy". You don't have to approve of the word "crazy" to understand what I am trying to get at. I have known that the things going on in my head have been not normal for as long as I can remember. You see, OCD people are aware that what we do is odd, weird, and just plain strange. We know the thoughts we have are irrational and disturbing. We would never act on them but they do tend to upset us and make us spend hours worrying and fighting off the all engulfing feelings of dread and copious amounts of soul shattering guilt. We know that we are "crazy" as it was so politely put. I actually have no problem with the word crazy. Call me whatever you like as long as it is factual. Don't call me psychotic because I do not suffer from psychosis. Do not call me manic as I do not have bipolar. If you are going to call someone the name of a mental illness at least take the time to figure out which one they have first. I do fit the definition of crazy. If you want to call me crazy, insane, mentally ill, or neurotic then hey, I am down with that. Whatever, I don't really care, as long as you call me something that has to do with my particular diagnoses. I do ,however, know that I am all of these things or at least appear to be all of these things to others. I do not have delusions or have trouble deciphering reality from fantasy. Some mental illness can cause this but my particular one does not and to imply such is maddening. Not because I have anything against those that suffer from these terrifyingly painful symptoms but because it promotes false information about what OCD and other disorders that do not include a psychosis are. And when you use the term Mental Illness you are including OCD sufferers as well as other disorders!
Yes, there are diagnoses of some that are not aware that something is going on with them. For some the line between reality and fiction can become blurred. There are mental illnesses that do this. It's a fact. However, when you use the general terms and claim that all people with mental illness have this issue you are promoting stigma.You are promoting a false notion that all of us are the same or suffer the same symptoms. It is simply not true. Yes, we can all identify with each other's pain and suffering. Yes, we can all relate to the same stigma and discrimination. Yes, no one understands what suffering and surviving from mental illness is like more than we do but we all have different diagnoses and therefore have different symptoms.
Many of us realize that what we do or think is not normal. I remember the first time my OCD came back in full force. I was grabbing a towel from the linen closet and my intrusive thought talked to me. I shut the door and cried. All I could say was," Oh my God I am insane.... I am insane." In fact I was so terrified that I was insane that I waited a full month before I confided in anyone. Why, because there is a stigma that all mental illness means that you need to be straight jacketed and whisked away to a mental institution. I was afraid of what the term insane meant and what my life would be like now that I could no longer deny that there was something wrong with me.
The definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein is that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. As an OCD sufferer I do this. I repetitively do things or think things each time hoping that it will make the intrusive thoughts go away. These things are called compulsions or rituals. They can either be physical compulsions such as touching, counting, or washing or they can be purely mental such as mantras and things we repeat to make the thoughts cease. Make no mistake I know when I am doing them. I know that they are irrational. I know that they are not normal. I have no allusions to the fact that I am mentally ill. I have always known there something wrong with me.
In fact, that is part of the hell of OCD. We are over aware of things in our lives. We are over aware that you have cat hair on your sweater. We are over aware that the lines in the pavement are crooked. We are over aware there are germs everywhere. We are over aware that bad things happen and therefore we worry about them constantly.We are over aware that we are not like normal people. We are aware. We may pretend to be normal or fine but we still are aware that we are not. When we are first diagnosed we already know that what we do seems crazy. We don't need others to confirm that fact. We know.
So I would just like for others to take note that generalizations really harm more than they help. Though many of us are considered to be "crazy" that doesn't in any way mean the we are oblivious to that fact. Many of us know that we are having issues. Many of us with different diagnoses are aware that we are mentally ill and I would really appreciate it if you are going to make assumptions about a particular mental illness that you actually A.) research what mental illness you are going to discuss and B.) be specific and don't bunch us all up together by using general terms and then end up promoting ignorance and bias.
False information hurts. It causes confusion and ignorance. It promotes stigma and unnecessary fear and avoidance. It builds a wall around the mental illness community that we didn't ask for in the first place. Please be mindful that the term Mental Illness is a general term not a particular diagnoses and when you claim that mentally ill people do this or that you are in fact talking about us all. You are talking about each and every diagnoses not just one.