Schizophrenia and Human Rights

I tried to strike up a friendship with a woman–JB–and she bolted after I disclosed.

I moved on–it didn’t upset me either way. Some people look at you and they don’t see who you are–they see an illness–like you’re a walking billboard for your diagnosis.

You could’ve at one point dead lifted 205 pounds–you could’ve done any number of impressive things–yet those people close the door on finding this out because their minds are closed to you as a human being.

This is a human rights violation: the sloppy shorthand people use to link you with your symptoms. Mental illness stereotyping is a human rights violation like any other.

Though I think if you make your happiness and your self-worth dependent on whether people like you that’s a form of self-imposed ill-ness right there.

You have to like yourself first of all because if you do it won’t matter that other people don’t like you. I learned this early on from having been bullied as a kid.

Yes: I understand–I get it–that most people want to love others and be loved back. They want to feel like they belong–like they’re understood and accepted for who they are.

Listen: I understand this need a lot of us have. Yet I’m going to go so far as to say that the people who post hateful comments on social media ARE CLOWNS. Give them a red plastic nose and they could perform with Ringling Brothers in the circus.

No amount of “splaining” is going to change their minds so I don’t care to even try to set them straight. I’ve been there; I’m so over it–when I disclose to a person–and they suddenly have a negative opinion of me even though I’m the same person I always was.

Their stigma is a cop-out. They can’t be trusted to value what each of us brings to the table: our sense of humor; our kindness; our courage to fight a battle every day–whatever positive traits we have..

Yet I say–go ahead–reach out to try to be a friend or lover with another person. Just go into it if you ask me with the approach that you’ll make mincemeat of the stigma if it happens.

Open-minded, positive people do exist in the world. I’ve found them; you can too.

I’ll talk in the next blog entry about finding your tribe of kindred spirits.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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