Sometimes I wonder if I have just become my illness. I know that there are other aspects of me, but, how can I separate my mental illness from myself and just say “oh yeah, I have schizophrenia and it is no big deal.” I guess after living my life for so many years in denial of having the dreaded schizophrenia label, I know I don’t want to go back to pretending like it isn’t a part of who I am. Is it so wrong that it consumes me? And, I don’t know, am I consumed by it?
I guess I think about it a lot. How can I not? Everyday I sleep so much from the meds and everyday, several times per day I have to take the meds. My therapist tells me that I probably should NOT tell people right up front that I have a mental illness, because people won’t understand and then they won’t want to be friends with me. I don’t know. What should I do then? Wait until they are my friend and they could hurt me even more by leaving because they don’t understand what it is to have a mental illness? What if I had been struggling with cancer for the last 20 years instead of mental illness. Surely most people would mention that to people, so why should I take on a coat of shame that isn’t mine? I know, I know, maybe I should be sensible. I can’t change people, but then again, how am I supposed to change myself?
I feel like if I don’t tell people then I am pretending to be someone that I am not. Is it even fair to ask if I am my illness? It isn’t like my brain and its malfunctions can be separated from who I am. But just because I happen to have schizophrenia, it doesn’t mean I’m irrational, illogical, stupid, slow, anti-social, emotionally stunted, incapable and whatever else people might think. Is that what people think when they hear the word schizophrenia?
If anyone is out there reading this: could you tell me what you think when you hear the word “schizophrenia”? Should I be afraid of saying it out loud?