“Welcome to the Insane Asylum” is what the ad said and part of me got really sad. It is Halloween and of course there will be haunted everything but when I see insanity plugged in and used to scare people it makes me sad, really really sad. No it is not because of the kids, my kids love to be scared and think ghosts, vampires and zombies are all the rage. It is because of mental illness and the idea it is frightening.
Mental illness does not have to be frightening. People should not have to be afraid of individuals who have mental illnesses. I as a person who lives with a mental illness should not have to worry that you all will be afraid of me. Yet here we are and I know that if I am ever brutally honest with people, the fear may creep in. I see the looks of fear when I am having an issue. I hear the off comments when my boss is careful to remind me of things like, thunder is coming, and no there is no sirens going off right now.
You see since I came home from Iraq I have both auditory and visual hallucinations. I live with PTSD and guess what folks..I am completely harmless. I do not hurt people, scream obscenities or do anything that might frighten people….oh wait yes I do. See when I am having an issue I am seeing and or hearing things that are not there. Good news they will not hurt you nor will I. Bad news, they are terrorizing me. So yes those closest to me have the unfortunate job of having to tell me, when they see the terror in my eyes, that nothing is wrong, nothing is there and everyone is fine. Is it scary…well not for you.
But when I see the displays with people in straight jackets, people pretending to babble, grabbing you randomly..yeah none of that is my life. Here is the issue though, there are some people who need restraints for safety. Sometimes people babble because of dementia, brain issues or too much medication. But why should we be afraid of this? These are real people not some imaginary beasts. Why should we fear people who pose no real harm to us but only to themselves? Why are we afraid of something real and why is it paired with so many clearly fake things. Yes zombies, vampires etc are fake but people with mental illness are not.
I don’t know how to make it right though. I still see fear in people when I ask those who don’t know me if they are hearing that or if there is anyone over there. It is a stigma and yet not something that will hurt you.