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My Experiences With Intolerance as Someone With Schizoid Personality Disorder

Recently, I read The Mighty article “When People With Mental Illness Are Made the Dangerous ‘Other,’” and it got me thinking of my own experiences with intolerance. I have a few mental illnesses, some more visible than others. My intrusive thoughts are the most obvious one, since I react to them with muscle spasms. I also have schizoid personality disorder, which makes me socially awkward and seem “strange.” Some people have more difficulty tolerating people with mental illnesses, since it is so misunderstood.

Two years ago, I moved into a new apartment during my second year of University. I didn’t know my roommates very well. I am very introverted and have social anxiety, and I had a lot of intrusive thoughts due to the stress of school. I was very happy keeping to myself in my room, but my very social roommates seemed to feel uncomfortable. Halfway through the year, one of my roommates went on an exchange and left for a few months. The other would sometimes make a point of jumping in surprise as I walked into a room. Eventually the one far away sent me a message telling me to leave after the lease was up, that the apartment dynamic wasn’t comfortable for them and it hadn’t been fun for them that year. They had apparently discussed it at length.

Although I like the honesty, I wish things had been discussed with me before. I then had to find my other roommate, the one still living there and who was in his room, to ask about this message. I felt like a terrifying freak no one could tolerate. After our discussion it turns out the main reason was I’m not social enough. It is after that incident that I went for a diagnosis for Asperger’s syndrome and ended up being diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder.

A year ago I started working at a part-time job. I sometimes have intrusive thoughts at work. There are also cameras everywhere in the small store, and my boss would often watch them. He once zoomed and replayed a time I was having an intrusive thought and showed it to my coworker, saying I was “crazy.” He admitted to her that he was afraid of me. She told me he said he was afraid of firing me in case I would set the store on fire. I know he was a very angry, intolerant person, but it still kind of hurts.

During class, I also have some intrusive thoughts sometimes, and people have stared at me for a very long time, talked about me in front of me like I couldn’t hear them and on one occasion interrupted the teacher to ask if I was OK. I have also noticed that a lot of people who have mental illnesses may not get along with their family members, and I’ve had my challenges with my family dealing with my mental illness.

I think a big solution to this problem is not only mental health awareness, but including all mental illnesses. Because depression and anxiety are awful for the people who have to live with it, but socially are not deemed dangerous to society, like schizophrenia or some other mental illnesses would.

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Thinkstock photo via Tishchenko