Mental Illness

mental illness

Many times this research, when translated by the popular media, is reduced to a caricature of the reality of mental illness. It is misleading and often frightening. The public gains an image of mental illness that has a Victorian asylum quality. This leads to a notion of the mentally ill as other, dangerous, and rare.

Who are the Mentally Ill

The truth is that the mentally ill live among society. They are next door neighbors, letter carriers, moms, and family members. They don't walk down the street talking to themselves and drooling on the sidewalk. Many have their respective illnesses under control through the use of medicine and/or therapy and live quite functional and healthy lives.

The misconceptions that people carry about mental illness arise because rarely does one ask a mentally ill person what his life is like. First person narratives related to mental illness are often ignored in literature only because there is a notion out there that one cannot trust the account of a mentally ill person.

The Real Experts

Each person is an expert on his own life. This is also true of the mentally ill. Unfortunately, society often does not want to hear what the mentally ill say about themselves. Most times society wants the mentally ill to go away and be invisible. When a mentally ill person talks about him- or herself or their illnesses people look away because to be mentally ill is for some reason still a source of shame for the sufferer. This shame is imposed by the so-called normal folks who set themselves up in judgment of those who qualify as abnormal.

When a mentally ill person speaks out about his illness or the poor quality of mental health care or other psychiatric abuses like over medication, those listening often chalk this discussion up to symptoms and not reality. The mentally ill are barely allowed to have feelings. Whatever a person labeled mentally ill does is under a microscope and seen to be part of the strange elements of his or her illness.

Time for a Change

It is time that society began to listen. The mentally ill have lived on the margins long enough. With the right care and attention mentally ill people can have fulfilling careers, engage in healthy relationships and be fully functional adults. Those who do not suffer from a mental illness need to stop speaking for those who do and must begin to listen to the experts on mental illness: the mentally ill. It is in the listening that the discrimination can stop.

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