Let us start with my mood now, frustrated. For the life of me I can’t understand why people without a mental illness (or hiding it) refuse to see this as, at times, a debilitating disorder.
Yes, there are those that can lead functional lives and perform well in regular or laboring jobs, but Mental Illness affects EVERYONE differently. Let’s take my disorder for example: Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar disorder, Dissociative Disorder, Seizures. (to add dramatic effect, I also have had nightmares everyday since I was five)
Now, let’s say you are an employer who owns a lucrative business. Your business is booming, your customers love your product (or services) but you need to hire a new employee. You interview me and besides me seeming a bit nervous, you like my resume and I am fully qualified for this position. I seem healthy enough which isn’t much of a concern for you but noticed.
I tell you about my mental disorders and because of the law, you accept me anyway because of my skillset. I would be a welcome addition to your company because of these skills and experience. Once more, my general health is of no concern because I can walk, lift heavy objects (if needed), and function in a working environment.
Looks are deceiving.
Part of another silly stigma attached to mental illness is the ridiculous notion that ALL of us are capable of functioning in a working environment. I assure you, some of us CAN NOT.
Most of my life I have avoided admitting that I am disabled. I hate the thought of being handicapped when I can walk, talk, learn, and function. I am intelligent, clever, charismatic, kind, patient, understanding and love a challenge. Although these are attributes fit for a competent employee, it’s just my natural personality traits that came with this vessel I am harboring. I was born with many talents and skill, I’m sure, but my mental illnesses started in childhood and progressively got worse over time, resulting in my potential going unnoticed by me and anyone else.
Let’s go back to the previous example of you interviewing me, hiring me, and then me starting to work for you. Everything seems fine at first, until you start hearing strange complaints from your clients/consumers. Complaints of your employee becoming “over-emotional” or “belligerent.” Then you start to see me having mental breakdowns in public places, stealing from you, lying to other co-workers, becoming emotional when confronted, not showing up to work for days at a time , having seizures, and a whole host of other uncomfortable situations. As I am mentally ill, you cannot fire (it is the law, remember?) me, you can only watch as your business crumbles under the feet of someone who has no control of themselves.
Again, I say, some can function properly and become successful and even great at their jobs and an excellent addition to the company. The people that can function properly are not only well managed but also, their condition is less severe.
Every illness has levels of severity. From cancer to chicken pox, I am intelligent enough to know that all illnesses have a level of how severe they can be to the host. Depending on the host themselves, of course. Everyone is affected differently. In my case, I would guess I have the severest form of my illnesses because it has nearly killed me on too many occasions to give a number to.
I don’t want this rant to take away the opportunities for those who can function under mental duress from a mental illness. I want to give insight to those who oppose those of us who cannot function like our counterparts. I live inside my own mind and when around people, my functionality is very limited. My emotions are highly sensitive and triggered easily.
The fact that some people think that your mind can’t render you incapacitated is ludicrous and unfair. These are the same people who ignorantly deny souls who need government-type services such as SSI, Social security, and Disability to survive because those people feel that the mentally ill can walk, talk, and learn so they can work.
I want to change this perspective.
The grouping and generalization of the mentally ill must stop now. I deserve to be treated as an individual and not as a group. I deserve to be considered for the severity of my illness by officials not as a category of what kind of illness I have. I have many! There are so many other people out there who also have many.
We humans live in a world were anything is becoming possible. Spread that possibility to the many who suffer from an illness you can’t see. Only experience.
This is the message I am trying to send, hopefully, one day, to the world.