Friday, 1 March 2013
Chrys Muirhead - 'Stigma begins and ends with psychiatry'
I have been getting increasingly bothered about the label of schizophrenia recently. Probably because I have become so open about it - starting with the publication of my book, and building slowly since.
There was an article about me in the local paper last week, to publicise the writing group that I am starting for Rethink Mental Illness, and there is another this week. This was done at my instigation, but to be honest it has freaked me out a bit - the thought that any and everybody in my local town might now think of me as a schizophrenic, without knowing anything much about the condition, or without having read my book.
Ah well, what's done is done. But this morning I came across a piece by Chrys Muirhead which put into words how I feel about the label, and about how unfair it is that having recovered from any symptoms of mental illness, this recovery is doomed to remain unacknowledged.
Chrys is a brilliant mental health activist - she writes as a correspondent for Mad in America, and I have been in touch with her before. So it was nice to read her thoughts chiming more or less exactly with mine. What is worrying is that in Chrys' case, the stigma has also passed down through the generations - but I will cross that bridge if and when I come to it. I still maintain that my kids will be okay as far as mental health goes - and that if they are not I will not resort to psychiatry to treat them. I will take out a second mortgage to pay for a psychologist if I have to - or train to become one myself!
What particularly annoys me is the failure of otherwise well-meaning people to understand the lasting damage done by diagnosis. I am sick of being told that a name change would detract from the seriousness of the condition, and such like... and sometimes I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall, trying to educate people about the realities of mental health from a patient's perspective.
Sometimes it feels as though people just don't want to learn, just don't care whether people recover...
Anyway, apologies, I am a bit tired today, as my elder son was very poorly in the night. And now the only GP appointment I have been able to get for him clashes with the first meeting of the new writing group. My friend is going to get things started for me, and I then have another friend coming to sit with my son when I get back from the doctor, so hopefully I will make it to the group at some point.
So, here's Chrys' article. Please take a look: