Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Honey, Guess Who Moved In Next Door!

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.


Rootietoot said...

My grandmother was schizophrenic, my mother and I are bipolar. Yeah, I know the feeling of constant evaluation, caution about who to talk to and what to say. Being told they'd really prefer it if I didn't work in the church nursery- that rawther put me off church altogether.

"We're not going to rub our really contagious crazypeople-germs on your doorknob when you're not looking "...or are we? hehe...

Anonymous said...

I've been dealing with depression and anxiety for almost 10 years now, and I've reached a point where I just don't talk about my illness with very many of my friends. People have used it against me repeatedly, to the point of no longer trusting friends to have my back, or provide any support when I'm having a bad time.
It's been especially hard for the past year because I've been dealing with severe depression and anxiety, as well as some really complicated family dynamics. When people ask me what I've been up to, I'm so ashamed to tell them that I'm unemployed, that I barely leave the house.
It just enrages me - I realize that depression and anxiety carry much less stigma than schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and I just can't imagine how people deal with it.

belledame222 said...

Dharma initiative, huh?

yeah, i hear you.

funny (well not, but) thing is that years ago, cancer was a big taboo to talk about a well...

Anonymous said...

"So what is there to be so uncomfortable about if a person with schizophrenia lived next door to you?"

I have an aunt and an uncle who are schizophrenic from different sides of my family, and I don't find 'em to be different than the rest 'o humanity. People must have a reason, but when I've asked they won't tell me what it is. I'm thinking it has to do with popular portrayals nowadays, but I'm still not sure. People seem to need an 'other' but I've no idea how far it extends. It...worries me.

Foofa said...

I think it has a lot to do with the media portrayals. It's unfortunate but most people don't bother learning about something, they just take it at face value. My grandparents have essentially written off my uncle for being bipolar because they think it is not a disease you can manage, that it will eventually destroy your life (mostly because my uncle hasn't managed it well). Perception can be very hard to break. I love your openness and honesty.

ben said...

Sigh. Too, too true. There's been a bad slew of small, but casual and pervasive references to mental illness in Left Blogistan lately, and my dander's been up. It seems so impossible some days...one would be friend told me i was fighting a "age old semantic construction" if i wanted people to stop baiting others with slur of crazy or insane.

Exactly...I am. We all are, because this is dug in deep. The study itself is difficult news, but i'm glad i know it.