My Mental Illness Does Not Make Me Less Human


I was with some people when they made comments about another person supposedly having a mental illness when it wasn’t known if he or she did. I have heard other people say not to take someone seriously because they’re “crazy.” I told them that I have mental illness and that it was no laughing matter. They then said that I wasn’t like those “crazy” people who are “locked up” in psychiatric hospitals.

I am a person with mental illness. Each person with mental illness has potential and, like anyone else, we can achieve great things. And just because one person has achieved much doesn’t mean the mental illness is no longer there.

These moments have left me thinking that people can be really insensitive. They’ve opened my eyes to what some people think about those with mental illnesses — that we should not be taken seriously because we are “sick”; that everything we say is invalidated by the fact that we are “crazy”; that when you are in a psychiatric hospital, you are free to be ignored, to be locked up, and not to be given full attention; that mental illness is something to laugh about, that people who have them should be made fun of while they’re being dismissed as incapable of being reasonable, logical, and sane.

I wish I had responded with anything more than tears and being offended. I wish I had educated them about all the people with mental illness I have encountered. I wish I had let them into how I actually think and feel with my mental illness. I wish I had explained to them that mental illness should never be a laughing matter.

I wish I had educated them that mental illness does not make us any less human. In fact, it makes us more human. They allow us to experience joy and pain in a deeper way. They can make us question reality and truly assess what is and what is not. They make us connect more with other people. Most importantly, they allow us to know how it feels to be at the very bottom, so we do not want other people to also go down there.

I wish I let them see that mental illness does not strip us of our humanity — that we can live equally vibrant and fulfilling lives while making reasonable decisions. I wish I had let them see that we are capable of so much more than they think we are. We’re not just characters in a show or statistics on the news. We are living, breathing people who are capable of hurt and grief, and equally capable of love.

Image via Thinkstock Images


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

Hillary Clinton holding a microphone

How Hillary Clinton's Mental Health Plan Leaves Out Those With Serious Mental Illness

Donald Trump has not introduced a mental health plan, so we can’t evaluate it. But Hillary Clinton did introduce a mental health plan. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it is not as good as the bipartisan Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H. R. 2646), which passed the House by a vote of 422-2, and [...]
crowd of people walking

What Finding a Kindred Spirit Means in Mental Illness Recovery

I can count on two hands the celebrities I met during my first hospitalization in London. However, I can only count on one finger the friends I have made and kept through eight inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations spanning 15 years. It’s no small feat to share with someone you have been in a psychiatric hospital once, [...]
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at the Brown & Black Presidential Forum at Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Hillary Clinton, Unicorns, and Child Mental Health Care

“Good child psychiatrists are like unicorns,” one of my child’s therapists told me last year. Lucky us. We found one! A unicorn! In fact, ours qualifies as an extra sparkly, rare unicorn. Because not only does he exist and see my son… this child psychiatrist actually communicates with kiddo’s teachers. He attends team meetings with [...]
Demi Lovato singing

Demi Lovato Co-Owns CAST Centers, a Mental Health Rehab Facility

Singer Demi Lovato, known as an outspoken mental health advocate, is now taking her commitment as a mental health advocate even further – becoming the co-owner of CAST Centers, a mental health and wellness rehabilitation facility. On Sunday, Lovato sat down with CBS Sunday Morning to discuss her work and the treatment center, which is the [...]