(Picture Credit: HealthyPlace.com)
You know, this post was going to be about my local NAMI meeting that I attended and how there were only six of us at the meeting and that we were trying to figure out how to grow our chapter but then something else happened that matters more than all of that. At least it does to me.
When we got there (my mom and I) the group decided that we should go around and introduce ourselves and tell what we do. First up was the leader of the group who, at first, scared me when we came walking in the room but as the meeting went on I grew to really like him. Then came _____ who stated that he was a Gulf War vet who was medically retired because he has paranoid schizophrenia. Then my mom introduced herself and said she was there with me to support me and then it became my turn.
I introduced myself and told them that I had a son with schizophrenia and that I write a blog and run a Facebook page about schizophrenia to educate the public about the truth about schizophrenia. They all seemed to think that was pretty cool.
Then came ______ who introduced herself and told us that she is bipolar and then lastly was _______ who has cataplexy and he was pretty involved with politics and mental health. He was a very interesting man and one I really loved listening to because he was very passionate about his work in changing policy around mental health issues, something that I'd like to someday be involved in.
Then it happened.
The thing that shocked me.
The thing that I wasn't prepared for.
The thing that I jumped on immediately and attempted to correct.
________, with bipolar, stated,
"I hate schizophrenia! I hate the word! I'm scared of the word and I'm scared of the people with it."
Did I just hear that at a NAMI meeting with 2 members there, one with schizophrenia and the other with a son with schizophrenia?!?!? Did she really just say that? Right there in front of us and right there in a supposedly safe place for people from all walks of life??
I didn't miss a beat and I told her that that was what was wrong with society. They hear a word, a diagnosis, and they prejudge based on that and they are afraid. I told her that people with schizophrenia were no different than someone like her with severe bipolar. We are all fighting something and we need to get the word out there about the illness. I went on to tell her my mission with my blog and she just sat there with "the look" on her face and I knew I was up against someone whose mind was slammed shut to any education or any chance to get some education.
When I stopped talking she had the nerve to tell me that basically I was wasting my time doing what I do and that it was completely pointless.
I have 5800+ followers who might say differently, lady.
I told her that when I began my blog my main goal was to try to change just one mind and as time went on, I changed many more than I ever thought I could. I said that I wasn't going to stop what I was doing and that I was never going to give up hope that perceptions (like her ignorant one she had to spew at a NAMI meeting) could be changed, even if it takes a long time.
Frankly the whole exchange took me aback. First that she would so loudly and vehemently state how much she hated people with schizophrenia and then that she would make these statements in front of actual people with schizophrenia!!!!!
Who does that?
Well, let's face it. We all know who does that. She does it and millions other like her do it. Millions of unenlightened people who are quick to judge and who, unfortunately, are not only spewing their crap to a few people in a NAMI meeting but they are going out into the world and spewing that to everyone that will listen.
This is what is wrong with society!!!!!!
Ultimately what her ignorance did for me was renew my passion for schizophrenia education and advocacy. The fact of the matter is, I will not stop doing what I'm doing until the day I die and in the mean time I hope I will make a difference in this world where the perception of schizophrenia is concerned.