On Psychology Today, Stigma Fighters Founder Sarah Fader says, “Being mentally ill does not give you an excuse to be an asshole.”
I realize that with the addition of things like Schizophrenia to the disability list, the ideal of maintaining objectivity regarding your own illness can be difficult at best. But.
Don’t be a dick. There are dick people; we all must get that. There was a dick at the gas station this morning that cut me off because, presumably, he was a dick. But, if you’re going to be a dick, you don’t get to say you’re a dick because you have schizophrenia.
No, you’re a dick because you’re a fucking dick.
Look, people that deal with psychosis and anxiety and depression and bipolar disorder and blah blah blah, at times, lead very stressful, hard lives. We could take it a step further and include those with PTSD from sexual abuse and from a thousand other horrible things but the fact remains: don’t you dare walk around treating people like shit and then blaming it on your illness, because I don’t want you speaking for me when you speak on behalf of mental illness. When Sarah said that I was an asshole to a friend that one time when I was deep in psychosis, it was absolutely true. Also true: my sincere apology that included the admission that I was being an asshole, not a schizophrenic. My friend didn’t even know I was schizophrenic at the time because guess what, it was fucking irrelevant.
This shit, this shit, has to stop right now. No I should not have to handle you to get the best of you. What? No. Like Sarah says, you put your best foot forward and if you don’t, you apologize and you learn to be a better person. Every day. You don’t get to be who you “are” because you have a mental illness. You don’t get to be a bad person because you are damaged. How much better would you be than those doing the damaging? I empathize with all of the things you have been through but with all due respect, that’s not my problem. Your shit is your shit. I didn’t infect your brain with anxiety; I didn’t sexually abuse you; I’m not the father who wasn’t around. None of that is my fault yet I am still here, trying to befriend you, but I’ll be damned if you’re going to treat me like shit. If you or your loved ones are putting yourselves in a position to say that it’s okay because you are ill or you have been through a lot or because you hear voices, leave me out of it because I’m gonna be pissed if you’re speaking on behalf of me like that. It is never acceptable to be such a douche that you have to make excuses for yourself.
If we want to ever have high hopes of actually fighting the stigma of mental illness, we have to stop breaking ourselves apart from the rest of society. We need to stop shouting from the rooftops that we have schizophrenia and therefore it is okay for us to not work, to give up, to do nothing, and to be awful to the people we supposedly love. We need to be humans, defined not by our illnesses but our passions and our dreams, by our love.
Yeah, I have Paranoid Schizophrenia. And? I also have two college degrees, five published books, a cat, coffee, and these pink Nikes.
Allie Burke has been writing books as long as she has lived with Paranoid Schizophrenia, which may or may not be relevant.
She has been praised for her defiant style, raw prose, and brutal honesty by literary critics of all corners of the world.
Paper Souls is her fourth novel.