Thursday, February 7, 2013


Most people with mental illness are non violent. Research reveals that one in five people in the US alone have suffered from some sort of mental illness. If we were all violent it would obvious. The news and media have made accusations and assumptions about mental illness. They tend to demonize us and twist stories to make us out to be monsters.This is not fair. They would not be able to discriminate openly about a person's appearance but it is perfectly acceptable, expected even, to do so about a mental issue. I have no idea what makes some people hurt others but I am certain that the painting with the wide brush of stigma isn't helping anyone. We are not monsters.
My first memory is of me as a little girl dancing in the sunshine. We were on a driving trip. I can still smell the sweet warm wheat smell emanating off of the wheat field next to where we parked. The memory is hazy with the sunlight. I can still feel the heat warming my back and face. I scrunched up my nose and laughed as I danced. Swirling in circles until I fell down. I was an untamed, unstoppable force of joy and happiness.Does that sound like someone that is violent?
At seven years old we had track and field day at school. We had to end the day early. A girl that was in a wheel chair in my class didn't get to do her race. She was crying and I thought it wasn't fair. She wanted a ribbon like everyone else. I went up to her and gave her mine. Does that sound like someone who doesn't feel empathy?
When I was a teenager and my mom would have shaking spells in public I would make her laugh. Once during a meal at a fast food place she was shaking so hard a fry flew out of her hand. I said if we are throwing fries now then I have to accept the challenge. I threw my fry on the ground so people would think it was on purpose and it would not be uncomfortable for my mom. Does that sound like someone who doesn't care about what other people feel emotionally?
When I found a mouse at my mom's house I took it outside. It looked scared and I just couldn't bare to harm it. It was so small and helpless. Does that sound like someone who is capable of hurting others?
Last year a dog attacked my neighbor's mother. She is just a tiny older woman who was walking her tiny dog. This dog killed her puppy and bit her three times by the time I saw her. As everyone around stood there and watched this dog maul this woman. I ran out there and protected her. I hit the dog with a broom till he let her go. Then I got her to my house and stayed with her until the ambulance came. Does that sound like someone that is incapable of emotions to you? People that have no mental illness stood and watched this whole event and did nothing.They didn't want to be "involved". In fact the only person that called the police was my ten year old. He is very brave. I am so proud of him.
If I was a monster would I do everything in my power to raise my children in a healthy and happy home? Would I give everything I have to make them happy? Would I be so hell bent on making sure they have everything they need to become good people? Would I do all I can to preserve their innocence? Seems like the media's logic about mental illness is flawed.
America's mental health system is broken. It is broken because of lack of funding, lack of good detailed research, and most of all it is broken because of the misinformation,fear, and stigma the media has placed on mental illness. Mental illness has become a dirty word. I don't know about you but I am not a dirty word. I am the face of mental illness and yet I can not put my own face on my profile because I have to protect my children from judgement. I have to protect them from what other people will say and do if they know that their mommy isn't "normal". I don't want my children to be shamed because their peers didn't take time to educate themselves. I am not ashamed of having a mental illness. I could not help having a mental illness anymore than I could help how tall I was going to grow. It was not my choice but it is my life and I have to accept that. You can not paint mental illness with a broad brush like that and it make sense. I could say all dogs are evil because one attacked my neighbor's mother. It doesn't make it true. I can not judge all dogs from the actions of the few. Mental illness covers many conditions. Many of these conditions are non violent. I am many things. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a sensitive, kind, and good person. I am a woman with OCD. I am a person with mental illness.  I am not and never have been violent or dangerous. I cry at sad commercials for God's sake. I am not a monster. I have made it my life's goal to be an untamed, unstoppable force of positivity. I am not going to accept being pigeon holed into a dark corner because that's what the media wants people to believe. Because fear sells and acceptance doesn't. I am still that little girl dancing in the sunshine and I am going to dance. I am not a monster because I have a mental illness and neither are you.

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