Well, it turns out that even a lot of disabled folks aren't too fond of people like me.
This research is supported by findings published in the 23rd Report of the British Social Attitudes survey, whereby 82 per cent of people who don't know any disabled people say that they would not feel very comfortable with a schizophrenic moving in next door, compared with 71 per cent of people who know someone who is disabled and 62 per cent of people who are themselves disabled.
You know, it's reading stuff like this that makes it harder for me to talk about having schizophrenia than it is for me to talk about my cancer. I've written about how, in our society, cancer can work as an instant sympathy card that one can redeem at any given time. It's different with mental illness, though. Tell someone you have schizophrenia and you can be sure that anything you've ever done or do in the future will evaluated and re-evaluated on the basis of that admission.
Have you shown up to work having an extremely bad hair day? It must be because you're "schizo". Have you ever been thinking about something funny and laughed out loud about it? It's because you're nuts. Are you having a day where your nerves are frazzled and everything you're doing in the laboratory seems to be going wrong? There's no doubt about it--you're definitely on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. But if anyone else were to exhibit the same behavior, it can simply be attributed to having a bad day, waking up on the wrong side of the bed, not having had one's morning cup of coffee, et cetera.
It's enough to drive a person crazy. Okay, okay! I know that was an awful attempt at a joke but, seriously folks, unless you have spent your whole life on a deserted island formerly occupied by the Dharma Initiative, there is absolutely no way that you can be an adult and not have ever known someone with a mental illness. We are all around you. So what is there to be so uncomfortable about if a person with schizophrenia lived next door to you? We're not going to rub our really contagious crazypeople-germs on your doorknob when you're not looking and you can be fairly sure that we won't make you uncomfortable by staring at you every time we see you in the hallway...that is, provided you don't do anything crazy 'cuz if you do, then all bets are off, my friend.