It has taken me a week to write this post because I didn’t want to seem to be on a tirade. So, here is my more processed version.
I was watching a sports show this weekend where the commentator was equating the erratic and unpredictable nature of a football team to a “schizophrenic bipolar”. Later, I was watching television series where there was a character that suffered from psychosis. The actress portraying the psychotic mother acted as if the character was slow or had intellectual deficits.
First, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SCHIZOPHRENIC BIPOLAR POLAR!
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are two completely different disorders, with different presentations, schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder and bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, they each have different treatment protocols (although some treatments overlap), and you CANNOT diagnosis a person with both disorders. If a person suffers from symptoms of both they are diagnosed with a completely different diagnosis called schizoaffective disorder.
Second, people are diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder; it is NOT who they are, but something they have.
People “suffer” with these disorders. However, individuals with these disorders have many other qualities, personalities, loved ones, jobs, and lives. The disorders do not have to define them so therefore we should not define them according to their disorders.
Next, mental illnesses do not directly make a person intellectually delayed or challenged.
Many very smart and successful people suffer from a variety of mental illnesses. The symptoms are uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and decrease functioning when acute.
Last, mental illness is not an affliction, but a disease or disorder. And, with treatment, folks can lead very productive and fulfilling lives.
Being diagnosed with a psychosis or mood disorder does not mean that a person is not as smart as the next person. There are possibilities of great success for people with these disorders.
In order to increase the treatments for mental illness, we need to stop stigmatizing individuals that suffer from these illnesses. Our ease of passing judgement and saying derogatory things is crippling to the individuals with these illnesses and the advancement of mental health. We must educate ourselves to increase tolerance and compassion.
OK, my rant is over 🙂