For hundreds of years the Europeans were afraid to eat tomatoes. True story. Why you ask? Well for three reasons. Number one the tomato plant and roots are poisonous if consumed. The only edible portion is the fruit a.k.a. the tomato. Number two is the fact that it is in the same family of the deadly nightshade plant. Not something you want to mess around with. Number three and possibly the most interesting fact of the three is that in the medieval ages the more influential families had dinnerware made of pewter. Now pewter back then was not made like it is now. Pewter then was made with copious amounts of lead. Some even as high as 50%. The issue with the tomato was that tomatoes are full of acid. It's a wet gooey kind of fruit and therefore the acid was much more evident, shall we say. The acid would leach the lead form the pewter plate causing lead poisoning. So they were afraid of the tomato when truthfully what was killing them was their pretty plates and silverware.
I am sure about now you are asking yourself what on God's green earth does tomatoes and superstitions about the gloriously gooey red fruit have to do with a mental illness blog. We are the tomatoes of the world, my friend. We are perceived to be dangerous when we are not. We are thought to cause harm when statistics prove otherwise. We are feared and it has nothing to do with us personally just the preconceived notions and stigma placed on us. Mental illness isn't the dangerous and treacherous condition is is made out to be......it is the poisonous platter it is served on that is the real danger. The media, the false rumors, the scary misinformation that is spread about mental illness and those that suffer from it. We are the sweet, tart, harmless fruit that has been discriminated against and feared. Not because we are likely to turn into the monsters that roam in the dark shadows at the stroke of midnight or the boogedy man we all feared lived under our beds and hid in our closets just waiting to get us as children, but simply because people are afraid of what they don't understand. And when people are afraid they make judgment calls that may not be appropriate to the actual situation. They panic and fear and make up silly superstitions that unknowingly continue to promote stigma. So you see it isn't us they are really afraid of, it's the lies and falsehoods that they have been served. These falsehoods and lies are essentially the pretty dinnerware that masks it's beauty with poison. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or frightened of.....what we should be afraid of is the poisonous platter it served on.