Very few could ever guess that I have a severe mental illness. Sometimes it’s a compliment and sometimes it’s not. Either I am being praised for all of the hard work I put into dealing with my illness or I am a disappointment for not acting normal. Yeah, it’s sounds weird when I read it too.
How could anyone suffering from an illness like schizophrenia be a disappointment? It’s actually rather easy. We can thank social stigma, a misinformed public, sheer ignorance and Hollywood. I’m not a homicidal maniac, by the way. But I am speaking of a completely different kind of disappointment, the ex-inclusivity kind.
If one doesn’t know much about my illness it’s very easy for them to misunderstand me, my words and actions. For my words can scatter with almost no effort and my actions similarly might create uncomfort. Simply put: they don’t make sense to the outsider.
“She seems normal.” “It’s not like she is talking to God.” “She’s not walking around talking to nobody.” “She’s not trying to convince us of a government conspiracy.” I’m sure you get the picture.
I’ve gotten really good at not sharing what’s happening in my mind or the sensations in my body, the delusions and/or hallucinations. I don’t share that the building is shaking, or an unusual smell has permeated the room, or that I hear a weird noise that doesn’t fit with the surroundings. And I dare not share the level of paranoia I may be experiencing and trying to talk myself down from. Through all of this I am expecting to not just act normal but be normal.
I see people all around me, with their unique self identities, be welcomed and celebrated. No one thinks twice about accepting them ‘as is’, but those same people would so easily point out my lack of normalcy. Seriously?
I’ve never sought out anything beyond normal. I don’t mean average as much as I just want to be accepted. As I try to judge people on their character and only their character, I should so be judged.
With Schizo-Affective Disorder, along with all severe mental illnesses, a bit of eccentricity is part of the package. A bit of wrong words, wrong behaviors, wrong affect, wrong this or that, falls into the category of “eccentric”. And these behaviors, however odd, weird or out of place they may seem to the normies, they are our “as is”. They are our normal.
I have no intention or desire to educate all of the normies in the world. Such an undertaking would be two steps deeper into madness than I am willing to go. My desire for those people would be for them to recognize that different isn’t always bad, that the unknown isn’t something that should instantly be shunned, humiliated, or destroyed.
And at the end of the day I really don’t care what label has been attached to me. What I care about is my character and how you judge it.
E.T. Aka Annie