I was thinking about idioms. Fair game for an idiot. I thought maybe mental health stigma is a series of idioms. We all have little messages floating about in our heads. It could be “a dime a dozen” or “a picture paints a thousand words” but it is as likely to be “schizophrenia equals dangerousness” or “depression is anger turned inwards.”
It’s all nonsense if you shift your perspective. A dime a dozen means easy to get but scarcity can be just as costly. Ten cents for a dozen seeds would seem precious to a man feeding his family. Why do we cling to only the one meaning?
A picture paints a thousand words insinuates the visual is more descriptive than words. As a writer I am biased but I put forward the challenge for any artist to paint what I say with these 600 words. Take your time.
“Schizophrenia equals dangerousness” is statistically false.
And “depression is anger tuned inward” only makes: “happiness is anger turned outward” as true.
We assume the world is full of absolutes as our very bodies swim in flux upon a spinning object.
Impressions and ideas are filtered through knowledge, experience and emotion but we assume it drops cleanly in our laps. Many of our ideas are fouled by knowledge, experience and emotion. It is often only a version. I share my life with a Doberman Pincer. It is usually with me 24 hours a day. If anyone knows her, I do. My favourable opinion of her is clouded by my emotions such as love…I literally kiss the mess. Others see her differently. People sometimes cross the street and I had one couple following us stop in their tracks as she did her business. They could have passed but that would have lessened the distance. Their ideas of a Doberman were filtered through what? A photograph, a movie, TV show or headline? We can stand back and see who is more informed as to what a Doberman is. I have lived with her, taken food from her mouth and had her obey only a motion or noise I make. She is More Bark Than Bite.
Watch a film with a character suffering from schizophrenia next to a real person also afflicted and it all seems like a cartoon. I wonder what is worse, to live with the illness or have a world blind to your humanity and very feelings. You wonder about the idiom and why it is not called a contradiction.
There is a large difference between an idiom and mental health stigma. Only one hurts. Only one bestows suffering upon those who suffer, only one demeans and only one pushes people away. When we see someone with a limp, we notice. When we see someone with mental health symptoms we form opinions and ideas. Pity is replaced with prejudice. We rarely gossip about, point at, laugh at or discount the person with the limp. What slows us from learning that it is offensive to do so with a mental symptom? We must see more than consonants to make sense of a word as we need more than a word to make sense of an idiom. Schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar, OCD or ADHD are not idioms. We are not meant to take meaning from only these single words. They must be linked with descriptors such as son, daughter, aunt, father or sister. These illnesses are deserving of a shift in perspective, they are worthy of more consideration and expanding respect.
I apologize as this was written Against The Clock. It is probably All Greek and like Beating A Dead Horse but we’re All In The Same Boat and are equally vulnerable to having the same Axe To Grind. If I have offended, keep in mind there is a Method To My Madness.