Today on Currying_favor, I tweeted a link to a editorial piece by Caroline Ravello in the Trinidad Guardian.
She talks about labels for people with a mental illness, and how they are all derogatory on some level. There’s really no respectful way to talk about mental illness without implying there’s a defect or failure on the part of the sufferer. In English, Mad, lunatic, crazy, maniac, and manic are just a few examples.
I have to wonder:
- What came first, the general bad attitude and fear of the mentally ill, or the labels? ‘Doesn’t this create monsters where none existed?
- If we weren’t so focused on one difference, instead of another person’s obvious humanity, and everything that remains relatable between ourselves and that person, would our labels reflect more compassion and respect instead of disdain?
There’s a lot of ways people who suffer with mental illness are dehumanized by prevalant and socially acceptable ignorance. A lot of people don’t seek treatment they want and need because their health insurance, their career path, or both will be permanently harmed by that decision.
Clearly we’re teaching our children wrong, then, because it’s supposed to be a mature, rational decision to ask for help when we need it, ‘isn’t it?
We are more aware than ever that a lot of people suffer with mental illnesses, for example, PTSD, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Yet there’s still a lot most people don’t know about mental illnesses, or understand about different mental illnesses until they experience one themselves, or someone they care about develops one.
Enter “Mad Pride”, a movement started in Toronto in the 1990s to re-define “mad” as self-descriptive, but not stigmatizing terms. I hadn’t heard about this movement before now, but I do hope it gains traction. International Mad Pride Day is July 14. ‘Was it intentional to share France’s Bastille Day? I don’t know, but I think it works.
We need a more compassionate world; if we ostracize people who are different, we run out of people to talk to, and our world becomes overburdened with problems rather than solutions.
Click here for more about Mad Pride Day.