Hi, there. Thanks for visiting. I'm starting this blog as an advocate for mental and physical health. I'm a freelance writer and also own a home based medical transcription business. I was diagnosed in 1978 with paranoid schizophrenia and started to become acutely ill three years prior to that, unmedicated, frightened, confused, and in trouble with the law. I graduated from university with distinction the year I became ill. I've never regretted learning how to think at university. I struggled with my illness for 35 years and have reached the top of the mountain now, I think, or the other side, where the grass is greener and the path easier. There's hope for all of us, the whole human race, and never think there isn't hope or joy no matter your circumstances. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with mental illness in all its forms: depression, brain injury, autism, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety disorders, etc. and your positive experiences as well as those lies and half truths society and even therapists would have us believe about ourselves.

We are different folks, and we are beautiful. The whole human race is beautiful. Let's celebrate life.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

I Am a Human Being

Have you ever laughed at (or told) a sexist, ethnic, or racist joke?

I have. There are entire ethnic groups,unnamed here, who are the butt of "jokes" in every community, particularly groups which are more visible in that particular community. I recently laughed at a "blonde" joke and told one in return. I am of Scottish extraction - am I frugal or do I like my whiskey? I've laughed at myself, too, seeing a tad of truth in some of these stereotypes, but more than that, a sense of brief superiority to the group named if it's not my own.

"Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions. Generally speaking, stereotypes are not based on objective truth but rather subjective and sometimes unverifiable content-matter." *

It can be argued some of these jokes are in good humor and should be taken so, and I agree - often people with disabilities will share jokes about their own disabilities. But consider the feelings of those who are not like "you". Would you like to be singled out? I was hurt once by someone who commented on the initiation ceremony to be considered part of the Schizophrenia Society. That person who joked about it didn't have a mental illness nor did he understand the hurt a stigma or stereotype could inflict.

I used to have schizophrenia but we're better now.

Or - if a person with multiple personalities threatens to commit suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?

Personally, I think these are hilarious. But I'm on the other side of the mountain. I've climbed that rocky trail and come out the other side. I can laugh about it now. There are those who are still in agony and self doubt. I may be insensitive to my own community of people.

Do persons of other races or ethnic origins share jokes about themselves? I've learned they do. But it is hurtful and insensitive to assume a joke is harmless or that an individual has "no sense of humor" if they take offense. There's an old saying, there's truth in humor, and I've heard many slurs thinly disguised as "jokes". Or individuals who wound deeply and then protest they were "only joking".

Have minorities become too vocal? Have they risen too abruptly from obscurity and prejudice?

We, the mentally ill, are still immersed in obscurity and prejudice. And stereotypical thought: in the media, the public, and those who are charged with caretaking.

I am a person. I am not a "case". I am not a statistic. But it's estimated that one percent of Canadians have schizophrenia. Yes, you're right, that's one person out of every hundred.

And how many suffer from the multitude of forms taken by other mental illnesses? Bipolar, anxiety disorders, depression, OCD and so on. The stats of one percent for schizophrenia probably approach epidemic proportions for mental illnesses as a whole. Yet we are for the most part silent.

We are stereotyped as having "split minds" - that is the meaning of the term schizophrenia if you check out the root words in Greek. Any psychiatrist would tell you that's not true. Our minds in times of crisis can perhaps better be described as "splintered". We don't have multiple personalities. That's a myth. Unless they've changed the diagnostic criteria since I checked last.

Who am I? I am not a stereotype. In the words of The Elephant Man, "I am a human being".

Let me tell my jokes. My harmless jokes. And tell yours. But don't tell me I have no sense of humor if I don't laugh at thinly disguised prejudice, hatred and fear. And please, TELL ME if I offend you with my own attempts at making light of a serious situation. I was told once to take this lifestyle seriously. I often don't, particularly recently as I've become more and more comfortable in my skin, more trusting, and less conscious of intended slights when they don't exist. But be careful of your motivations when you laugh at or tell a racist, sexist, or ethnic joke! Or when you betray my humanity.

We are all human beings. All prone to error. But what has hurt us more, the wounds of a friend or the wounds of an enemy? The wounds of a friend are faithful, the Good Book says, but only if they are meant to build up and heal, and not a thinly disguised put down.

Do we stereotype ourselves? Is there truth in our acceptance of "I'm nuts" or "you're crazy"? How much power do words really have?

Do the hurtful words stereotype us? Or do we allow it by passively accepting or even encouraging...hey, I have an idea, and it's worked for me. Let's laugh at it, show them who's crazy (not us), or "we may be crazy but we're not stupid" - let's rise from a textbook definition of who we are and let them get to know us! Get to know us, you poor excuse for a human being! Love us! Laugh with us! And let's share the absurdity of the human race.

With all our stereotypical variety and challenges, there is hope and joy in every precious life on this planet, and this may be the best there is for us.

I used to have schizophrenia but we're better now. LOL


  1. Words have more power than we often realize. And once angry or hurtful words are said, we can never take them back -- they're always "out there". It's good to edit what we're about to say in light of "will this hurt someone?" Sometimes words can be loving only if they are never said.

  2. I don't believe we really should have to censor our words, Judi. And people are stronger and more resilient than often thought. It's the inner psyche behind our comments that I'm concerned about.

  3. That being said, you were right, Judi, in using the word "edit" and right in much of what you say. My injection was due this morning and I just returned - much more loving and understanding and tolerant! We'll drink a drink a drink to Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink...inventor of medicinal compounds...lalalala But I did mean the inner person that gives rise to our sometimes stereotypical comments which may hurt inadvertently. I don't like to watch my words constantly but it IS necessary to be AWARE.

  4. I'm a German-Irish-French-Danish-American depressive. It's amazing how much truly hilarious dark humor comes up when I'm feeling "sick".

    I can't do the funny accents, then, though.