“Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic, and so am I.”
Oscar Levant

Due to the shooting in Arizona; schizophrenia has become a hot topic. It is sad that this illness is brought to the forefront in such a negative light, all because of one person. I am certain many people out there believe those who suffer from schizophrenia are nothing but raving lunatics walking the streets talking to themselves while wearing tinfoil helmets to shield the government from stealing their thoughts. I think this is the image most Americans think of when they hear the word schizophrenia. Yes there are some of us out there, who unfortunately may fall under this generalization, but for the most part this is simply not the case, and in my opinion is a form of discrimination. These types of sweeping statements are the same as saying “all Muslims are terrorists.” Yes there are those who deteriorate to the point of madness such as Jared Loughner had, but this one man does not define how everyone else with this disease acts. There are many high functioning schizophrenics out there who work have families and contribute to society. It is sad that as a society, those of us who suffer from mental illness need to still carry that stigma around with us.

I know society does not deal well with mental illness. There are so many uneducated people out there with discrimination in their heads. I can tell you a personal story of such discrimination. I was working at a company which shall remain nameless. I was employed there for a while, and I was excelling at my job. I would go out to lunch with my co-workers and shoot the shit. Business was good, and there were no complaints against my job performance. I shared a cubicle with two other guys and we worked together to make sure projects were getting done. We were all in the cube one day when the topic of mental illness was brought up. They were talking about how those who have bi-polar disorder are drug addicts and completely useless to society. They went on to say how they are all violent criminals who are completely out of control. At first I bit my lip, just hoping they would go on to the next topic. About twenty minutes into MI (mental Illness) bashing I final had to interject. I told them their comments were offending me since I am bi-polar (diagnosis at the time but later changed.) I told them I am able to contribute to society and I am by no means violent or a drug addict. The cube became awkwardly silent and rather uncomfortable. They apologized for offending me, and I accepted. We went back to work with no other issues. Two days later I was “laid off.”

Schizophrenia is a progressive brain disease where as time passes symptoms of this disease seem to get worse and worse. I am only thirty-one years old so I am in the infancy stages of my illness. I am able to manage it properly so I can function within society.  My doctors have done a great job with managing my symptoms with medication. I have a job, which suites my illness perfectly allowing me to be a productive member of society. I am able to be a husband, father, and friend. I still have episodes where I fall apart and need daily living assistance, but I am able to get out of my head and find sanity. The progressive part is what scares me though. I am afraid of where my mind will be in five or ten years. I worry about slipping so far into my head I become completely detached. What scares me is I won’t even know what is going on. The shitty thing about this is I cannot control this inevitable outcome. I just need to have hope and faith I will always be high functioning.   

With all the negativity going around about this illness I thought I should speak out about it. Yes there are those who completely lose touch with reality. The sad part is they can be reeled back in with medication along with the proper support system. This shooting in Arizona could have been avoided if Loughner’s friends and family had been monitoring him more. From interviews I have seen it sounds like his friends knew he was off his rocker, yet stood by and did nothing. There are millions of us out there who suffer from one form of MI or another, yet I feel that we hide it in shame. Many of us are high functioning adults who seem in control of our illness.

I am not embarrassed or ashamed of whom I am, and I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my illness. I am proud that I am high functioning considering my diagnosis. I am proud I can hold down a job and raise a family. I may have a mental illness, but this illness does not define me as a person. I need to learn to live within my limitations and accept who I am illness and all. I wouldn’t need to hide or be ashamed if my illness was MS, but for some reason I should feel differently because it is MI? I think people hide their MI like a dirty little secret because they are scared of being judged. Does anyone else hear how sad that sounds?

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Comments
  1. Johanna says:

    Good Post. Keep up hope though. Symptoms don’t always worsen with age. We all have our burdens to bear, some harder than others. I admire you for your persistence to be the best you can be.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Johanna,
      Thank you. I spent many years in deniel and trying to fight my diagnosis. I have finally gotten to the point where I just try to live with it and learn my limitations

  2. renxkyoko says:

    My sister has a best friend who is bi-polar. They’ve been friends since 1997.We’ve never seen any sign of bipolarism in her. She’s family.

  3. […] Read more from the original source: Schizophrenia + Ignorance = Discrimination « The Philosophy of Me […]

  4. eebrinker says:

    just a note …. remember that ‘stigma’ is a stigma — in that, a person who hates black people are called BIGOTS. people who are prejudice are called intolerant.

    yet people who are intolerant or non-understanding of the mentally ill — are called “the menatally ill have a STIGMA.” we get credited with yet ONE MORE symptom! when it’s THEIR disease!

    it’s kind of funny …. lol.

    just thought i’d point that out. i did a similar blog on the “wrong turn” the media has worked with the arizona tragedy: http://eebrinker.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/psychology-of-fascist-bullshit-using-arizona-to-excuse-oppression/

    there are enough on side of nami and health organizations… those trying to make this stand for an over-all condemnation of the mentally ill, will get their asses kicked. not shot …. just a good ass-kicking. can’t go around and say we can’t even say “retarded” anymore and yet be calling everyone tagged mentally ill a potential shooter and killer. i don’t care what universe you’re from.

    the logic then says those pointing the fingers should be the ones that are locked up. not the mentally ill.

    crazy is only the reason they gave us to stop being creative. and i never found their arguments terribly valid.

    who are “they?” the REALLY crazy people who believe they are sane according to a contrast they can’t validly make for a lack of intelligence. hehe …. be well. thanks for coming by my blog.

    E.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      E,
      Welcome to the community and thank you for your input. I agree the definition of crazy is conceived by the so called “social norm.” I also believe creativity is mistaken for crazy. I think this invisible social standard keeps many people from spreading their wings and flying beyond the clouds

  5. E_Dragon says:

    I have had experiences with those who suffer schizophrenia and I will share because I hope it sheds some light on what it WAS that I felt at the time. I was in a small apartment and one morning I was cleaning up and I had left my door open a bit to get in some airflow while I was washing dishes. Across the hall from me was a young man who suffers from schizophrenia and I didn’t realize that he had not only let himself in to my place but he had been standing behind me for some time unbeknownst to me. Needless to say it scared the crap out of me initially to see anyone standing there but as time passed (like an hour or so), my own mind started conjuring up these scenarios and it really did scare me.

    I know that as one who does not fully understand a mental illness beyond the notion of a chemical imbalance in the brain or body (neurotransmitters etc.), I have no idea what could have been going through his mind. He and I got along, I feel I should mention that. I was upset with him for not letting me know that he was behind me and I let him know that as I ushered him from my apartment but we never really got back to the level of trust I once had with him. He was too quiet.

    Since then I have had other people in my life, people that I have known for the better part of my life who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia on varying levels. I have a first cousin who is very much bi-polar and it has taken her to the point where she is non functioning in society.

    It pains me to see it get to that level and I have to agree that this is not something that should be suffered alone. I am glad that you have had the support in your life and I will say that I will continue to visit your blog as your insight is one that I find worth in.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      It is a tough fight and one in which many lose. It is tough living day to day. I use my family as motivation when I get so psychologically out of it I keep my family in mind to find the strength to keep on path. The last thing I want to have to explain to my children is why daddy is in the hospital. That just mortifies me.

  6. Rene Knowles says:

    …A mental disorder or mental illness is a or pattern generally associated with subjective or that occurs in an individual and which are not a part of or . and add to the associated with the disorders and have led to various attempting to increase acceptance……. There is significant scientific debate about the different kinds of and the relative merits of categorical versus non-categorical or hybrid schemes with the latter including or systems..

  7. JS Park says:

    Well said. My uncle and grandmother both suffered from schizophrenia and I’ve known several others, one closely. Unfortunately not everyone has the same winning attitude about it; the one I deal with most closely now continues to spiral downward in his own negativity and child-like tendencies, which I’m certain is not part of his disorder. He feels he is owed certain privileges and hardly does anything to better himself; every phone call is either asking for money or some material goods.

    As much as we can say, “He needed a system of support,” there is a line when that person does not even embrace the support itself. Unlike the movies, where generosity always gives way to a happy ending, the frustrating reality is that more generosity can enable the person into regressed childish behavior. When dealing with any disorder, it is still largely up to the afflicted individual to have the desire to move forward. Love is just as important as discipline, if not one and the same. I cannot say I have given up, but in extreme cases our idea of “help” can only hurt.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Js,
      Welcome to the community. Good point. At some point in our efforts to help it can lead to enabling. If it gets to the point where the individual is completely losing it and the help you are trying to give is falling on plugged ears then I think it is time to step in and get the state involved and try to commit this individual. I know this from experience that the more you lose touch with reality the more “dangerous” you become. I am not saying dangerous like someone will get hurt but just a dangerous situation. Severe mental illness is a tough thing.

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