Dear Katie Hopkins,
In response to your article here, I would like to enlighten you a tad bit.
I am one in four.
The fact that I am willing to publicly say that I suffer from a mental illness is in huge amount to the people that have come before me. People that were braver than I am. People that even though they knew they would be ostracized and persecuted, still refused to be kept silent.
You see, stigma has always been an issue for us. An issue that has before now, gotten us locked us away in asylums, had unethical medical experiments done to us, and left us to be housed in run down facilities, and treated no better than criminals. More recently, having us fear for the loss of our jobs, our security, and our rights as human beings. In some countries, even today, being diagnosed as mentally ill can get you killed.
I read your commentary of which I am certain was meant to fulfill the need to for you to feel original and bold. Trying to take a different opinion so it would garner more shares and reads... Whatever, you do you Boo Boo... Go ahead and tell us all about how embarrassing it is to you, that the royals have the nerve to speak up about mental health issues. Even if it means putting down a rather large group of people that you know absolutely nothing about. With all due respect, you have no idea how people that suffer from mental illness live or the struggles we go through on a daily basis.
I am not in the UK, so I can honestly tell you this, I wish my country spoke on such a level about mental illness. I wish that it had the decency, the bravery, the honesty to be open about something so common and yet so misunderstood. In a country where twenty two of our military vets kill themselves every day, in a country where suicide is the tenth leading cause of death, in a country where people are terrified of anyone monikered with the umbrella label of mental illness, I would be on my knees crying and thanking my government for finally addressing mental illness the way your country just has. Because my country doesn't. We are not and have never been a a priority. They don't see us, they don't hear us, and they certainly do not speak for us. They don't care about us and we know it.
And here you are complaining.....because you are tired of hearing about it?
The reality is you have no idea what it is like to live with mental illness, and honestly, thank God for that. Your children don't have it. Your family is normal. You have no idea the disruption mental illness causes. The pain, shame, and anger. The treatments and therapies. The negative self talk and deeply wounded self esteem. The feeling of being inadequate, the guilt of not being like everyone else. The loss of jobs, friends, and in some cases family. And if that all is not enough to deal with we then have ignorant people like you that give us the shifty eye, that label us, that spread misinformation about us or our diagnoses, or as in your case, want to silence us altogether. The kind of misrepresentations we have all come to know, that people like us are dangerous, scary, unhinged, or weak. That we are just not trying hard enough to be normal or happy or whatever it is you seem to think we aren't being enough of.
I get that you don't get it.
It isn't your fault that you are, in fact, wholly ignorant of anything dealing with mental illness. What is your fault, is that you took it upon yourself to use your very large platform to further stigmatize a group of individuals that could have been helped by that platform. Instead of doing research and talking about mental illness and being honest, you decided to go against the grain. You wanted to be different. You wanted to be edgy and relevant which actually just made you seem judgy and uninformed.
People like me, people that suffer from mental illness every day, are used to people like you. People that think they know what it is like to live our lives and deal with our struggles. We listen and nod politely as you give ridiculous advice as to how to buck up and hold ourselves together (as if you had any real idea what we were going through). We see you when you treat us differently after you find out that we have a diagnoses. We are aware of it when you ignore what we say because our diagnoses has become our whole identity to you and therefore everything we think or say has become tainted by it in your eyes. We know your kind.
The difference between us and you is simple, we are fighters. We fight everyday to keep going, to educate, to live. We are always this way and not just this way when it suits us to be so. We are always strong because you damn well have to be to get out bed in the morning and face the day. And yeah, maybe that sounds cliche to people like you, but we do it every single day.
What Prince Harry and Prince William are doing that you just can't seem to wrap your head around, is they are offering support. Support for the hundreds of thousands of people that suffer from mental illness. They are making it okay to talk about...finally. Being open about mental illness creates possibilities to be honest. It promotes awareness and understanding. It actually saves lives. People that are not afraid to reach out for help do so because they feel like they can be open and honest. Whether you see it or not Prince Harry and Prince William are setting a standard. A positive standard on how people view mental illness. That may mean nothing to you, but it means the world to people like us.
So I ,for one, hope that Prince William and Prince Henry continue to "bleat on about their sanity" because in doing so they are helping others. Something that sadly, your article didn't do today and that's a shame. We could always use more people supporting us and lifting us up instead of putting us down because honestly, we deserve better than being told that we should suffer in silence like we have been told for decades. We deserve better than to be ignored, and today we deserved better than your paltry and inflammatory article that you spewed in an attempt to look indifferent.
One in four people world wide will suffer from a mental illness or a neurological issue in their lifetimes, and if you just took the time to look around you would see that we are just as worthy and valuable as everybody else. We are just as magnificent. We are trying to change how the world sees us but we can't do this all by ourselves. We need everyone to fight the ages old misrepresentations and stigma that do not define us. They were never true to begin with.
Please try and do better by us next time, believe it or not, we are counting on you too.