I am a broken leg. I am appendicitis. Sounds a little weird. What about she is pancreatitis or he is heart disease? Still sounds a little off. Let’s try she is bipolar or he is schizophrenic. Why does this sound acceptable or recognizable?
All of the afflictions I used have a biological basis. None of them are contagious. They all impact a life and those connected to it. All can be treated to varying degrees of recovery. The only thing that separates the mental illness is that it involves the brain. Mental illnesses are sometimes treated chemically. Why do we make a distinction when the brain is treated surgically. If a person has a brain tumor we do not say she is a brain tumor. A tumor makes an impact on a persons life and those around them. With treatment there are varying degrees of recovery for both the chemical and physical. Why is the tumor considered more physical? Do we not treat the tumor with chemicals at times? It all gets a little confusing why exactly our language is sometimes used differently for mental illness.
To flag an individual with a label seems natural on the tongue but what are we really saying? Why do we say Jimmy is bipolar? Why does Jimmy say I am bipolar? When we say it this way are we at least in language stripping Jimmy of all the other aspects of his life? Jimmy`s illness is not completely him. He has a reality and imagination that could be shared by many. He has a misfortune that could be also be shared by many but no matter where you place him he will always posses many of the same qualities as you.
No one asks for a mental illness any more than any other affliction. When individuals seek a diagnosis it is only so we can be helped. We don`t read through psychiatric magazines or tabloids to choose our symptoms. I have what I have. Please speak to me and about me in terms that we for some reason reserve for physical ailments.
The brain is located on top of our bodies but we hold mental illness below all else.
Your words might not reach me but they reach someone.