Those were the words a gentlemen used when describing a person with a mental health issue. To put it in to context, we recently joined a family we know for a meal, the subject turned to work, and on explaining that I work for a mental health charity and describing what we do, the conversation moved on to treatment and recovery, at which point the gentlemen proclaimed ” who would want to marry someone who is as mad as a hatter”.
Those who know me will know that I do not hold back, if I am upset, angry, happy, surprised, nervous and so on it will pretty obvious, so for me not to answer his statement without literally leaving my chair, climbing across the table, knife in hand, snarling like a rabid dog was pretty impressive. Instead I tried to calmly explain that people ( like myself, except I did not tell him that as he would probably have started crying, terrified what the crazy lady at the table was capable of) who have mental health issues are in fact the same as every other person, that mental health issues, and physical health issues are cared for with medication, lifestyle and therapy, sadly though he could not grasp the concept and I do not believe he will ever change his views.
If I had the inclination or time this is what I would have told him.
People with Bi Polar do not, as a matter of course, drive planes in to mountains.
The chances of a person experiencing either a manic high or low hurting anyone else besides for themselves are nearly zero, we are more likely to self harm.
We live full, interesting and stable lives, just like anyone else.
You do not need to walk on eggshells around us, we will not collapse if you hurt our feelings.
A person with a mental health issue, can go years without a relapse or hospital admission.
Yes we may need to take medication, but hey, who doesn’t for one reason or another.
Because of our mental health issue, we are usually stronger and kinder people as we have seen and heard things a lot of people would not.
When we are unwell, we can appear to have super confidence ( when manic), talk very quickly, have illusions of grandeur, and put ourselves in extreme danger, as we are at our most vulnerable, we may loose sight of reality, this does not mean we are as mad as a hatter, it means we are unwell.
Please do not compare as a girl I was recently with did a person feeling low, or having a bad day to a person who is having a period of full blown depression or Bi Polar low, there is no comparison to make.
Do not say as an off hand remark “your so OCD” or even say it about yourself, you have no idea what it is to actually have OCD.
Its not ok to call people mental, it is the same as calling someone who has lost all their hair due to cancer baldy or something similar.
Realise you, or your family members can all develop a mental health issue, just like they can develop any other kind of illness.
Until people stop being afraid of us, until mental health can become a topic that no one is afraid to talk about, no one is “put of” by a persons mental health history nothing will change.
When someone has a physical illness people rush to assist, with meals, hospital visits, help with the children etc, it should be the same with mental illness, yes, it can be scary visiting a psychiatric ward, but as I know to well, the people there are suffering, afraid, and feel alone.
Finally, we are not mad, we are not crazy, we are you, we are us.
Lots of love