My name is Faith, I have Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features. I am 25, I have 2 nephews, 4 nieces & when well enough I work with animals regularly. I am an empath. The thought of causing pain or harm is unbearable to me. I am not dangerous, but blaming mental illness exclusively is.
I have to admit, I have been doubting myself. I have been quiet because I felt like my voice wasn’t heard/didn’t matter. I was actually regretting blogging and telling anyone about my diagnosis for the past 2+ months. But now that I feel personally attacked, I can’t just ignore this issue. I shy away from anything political but with the walk to prevent suicide coming up, I felt I needed to speak up again.
It is dangerous to allow stigma about mental health to continue. For those of us with mental illness, stigma alone can stop us from seeking treatment. I know MANY people who refuse medication only because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. This is NOT ok. I am reminded of why I started being open about my bipolar diagnosis in the first place.
In the span of 24-hours, we lost 31 people. Politicians are using it as a platform which in and of itself is disgusting. But that’s beside the point. Candidates from all sides have been quick to assign the blame to mental illness. I want you to take a moment and think of news stories before this incident involving mental illness. Were any of those stories positive or were most of them in some way portraying mental illness as the cause of negative events? There is this illusion that mental illness leads to violence and it’s just not true. There is NO factual link between mental illness and violence against others. In fact, the opposite is true.
Hurtful and misleading statements and “facts” about mental health and violence will result in very real and scary consequences. These things that are being said add to a stigma about psychiatric patients that can lead to us refusing treatment we might need. The world is very much about not discriminating these days and mental illness should be included in this. A poll in 2013 reported that 47% of Americans were “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable living next door to someone with a serious mental illness. Another 41% also felt this way about working with someone with serious mental health issues.
Next month, I will be walking in the Harrisburg Out of Darkness Walk to work towards the prevention of suicide. Please join me! People with mental illness are much more likely to hurt themselves than others. In fact, two-thirds of gun deaths in our country are the result of suicide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I’ll finish with this closing thought. Hate is not a mental illness. Murder is not a mental illness. The mentally ill community that I belong to deserves better than being America’s fallback when real change is needed.