Don’t Use Me as a Pawn

I have a mental illness. It is a scary one that starts with schizo… and is a thought and mood disorder. The official name is schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. There are images people have of people with these types of disorders as psycho killers and violent, but really we are more likely to be the victims than perpetrators.

What I am sick of is being used as a political pawn. People will have a cause, that may be just, but they use stigma against me to “sell” their case.

Recently a form of involuntary outpatient treatment called assisted outpatient treatment, that is court ordered was legalized here. The name in my county is Laura’s law, similar to Kendra’s law in New York. I am not particularly for or against the law. What I didn’t like was how it was promoted.

There was a high profile police brutality case where a homeless, mentally ill man was beaten by the police and later died. His name was Kelly Thomas. They used him as the poster child for this law. I guess the reasoning was that he was the problem. If he wasn’t there, it wouldn’t have happened.

Now, they are using me to sell gun control. I don’t want a gun. I have a high risk of suicide; high enough that I can’t purchase life insurance. But, I don’t want to be involved in this case either.

They are using fear of me. Encouraging that fear. Not everyone who is disabled with a mental illness is dangerous. I work hard promoting education and recovery, not to be stigmatized by people who say they care about others.

There are problems with the mental healthcare system that need to be addressed, too. But, you don’t need rare sensational acts to push that. Use the visible issues you see everyday. We know large percentages of homeless and prison populations have mental illness. We know there aren’t enough beds and not enough funding. I want to see mental healthcare reform in a positive way someday, but not at the risk of seeing myself stigmatized once more.