The ReachOut Forums are a place to talk about your daily challenges, whether that means battling with a parent, a specific mental health issue, or both at the same time. You'll find members talking openly about depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other mental health challenges throughout the forums, including this particularly powerful thread started by one of our community members.
We wanted to feature this post from a real forum user because of how well it highlights the social stigma attached to schizophrenia, including the myth that schizophrenics are violent, or dangerous. Got thoughts on the topic? Register to respond or see other comments here.
I am so sick of hearing about Aaron Alexis and the navy yard shootings in Washington D.C. earlier this week. The report came out on Tuesday that he was hearing voices and how someone of his extremely unbalanced mental disorder should not have been allowed security clearance or to buy a weapon. Stigma and people being uneducated and intolerant like this is why I am afraid to go to counseling or get medication that could help me or even tell anyone at all.
When I asked to go to counseling I told my mom that I wanted help with my anxiety. I couldn't tell her about the schizophrenia and I didn't even trust the counselor. When I was diagnosed earlier this year, I asked her not to make the diagnosis official and to pretend that she hadn't diagnosed me so that it wouldn't go in my medical records. I made this decision because schizophrenia is such a misunderstood label and I didn't want it following me whenever I try to get insurance or check into an ER or get a check up or anything that would give access to my medical records. I don't want anyone thinking I belong in "a loony bin" and everything I hear people joke about schizophrenia just makes me believe even more that I did the right thing.
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT GOES ON IN THE DAILY LIFE OF A CRAZY PERSON?
1) I wake up and spend about 15 minutes distinguishing dreams from reality. It is very hard for me to tell what happened in a dream-no matter how outlandish-and what has actually happened in my short-term and long-term memory. I keep the basics of who I am in a notebook and look through it when I'm not sure.
2) I go through the day and I laugh and am actually a very sweet person. I try not to lie to people but again, I don't do it on purpose, when I'm telling a story that completely never happened, I truly believe that it did and I remember every detail like it was real. Sometimes later I will realize that I accidentally lied to someone and that scares me because how often did I lie to someone and not realize it? I can't trust anyone because the only person I told, my very best friend, immediately said "Well how do I know you're not lying?" And the scary thing is I had to tell her "I don't know"...
3) I am very afraid to go to bed because when I am alone at night, a couple of times a month I will see things that I know are not there, and I know are not real but I feel their grip on my arms and them dragging me away and they TERRIFY me.
4) I have a 3.86 GPA. I have a very loving boyfriend and family. I go to church. I volunteer in hospitals because one day I want to be a doctor. I put on makeup and brush my teeth every morning just like every other girl at my school. I am a functioning member of society and shouldn't be limited any more than my mental illness already limits me. I can guarantee you, you would have no idea if you ever passed me on the street. But I have to live with this huge secret and suffer alone.
I would never shoot or harm anyone and while I am certainly not condoning what Aaron Alexis did (in fact, I hate it because it made my situation worse) I am sick of hearing about the military including mental illnesses in their background checks. That scares me, to think that I will be trapped in a society where I am automatically lumped with people like this and have to suffer this stigma. It's similar to how peaceful muslims have been prejudiced against since the extremist attacks of 9/11.
I am not violent. I am not crazy. Truthfully, I am just afraid and confused because I do not understand the reality around me. People take it for granted, waking up and having the simple knowledge of who they are because most people don't know that schizophrenics like me suffer like this. Unfortunately I have to just suffer through this and can't get medication or counseling that COULD HELP ME live a normal life because of the stigma. I hope everyone on this site reads this rant, at least the mods and peer supporters, because ReachOut is the only safe place I have and I want to be accepted here and understood. Thanks ReachOut for being here.
*photo credit: Lena Vasiljeva, flickr