a letter to people who define us by our diagnoses

Dear people-who-define-us-by-our-diagnoses,

Would you shun someone for having cancer? Would you tell others you don’t want to work with him because he has cancer? No, that’s mean. Well, it’s just as mean when you say that you don’t want to work with us because we’re “crazy”.

Yes, we’ve been diagnosed with mental illnesses. We have a chemical imbalance in our brain. But we didn’t ask for it. There’s nothing we could have done to “prevent” it. We were like you, once, too. We were, as you would call it, “normal”. But something happened. It was out of our control and we couldn’t stop it from happening.

It’s plain terrible to have to live with mental illnesses, but to have to live with your shallowness just makes it so much harder. Why do you do this to us? Why do you define us by our diagnoses? We are NOT our diagnoses. We are NOT our disease. We try very hard, we do. The things you do every day – like getting out of bed, eating breakfast, taking a shower, going to work or school – are a dozen times harder for us. We wake up every morning knowing that we’re sick, we may be sick for the rest of our lives, and that people will always judge us for it. We use a lot of effort just being what you would call “normal”, but you don’t see that. Of course you don’t, you’ve never been through it. Yet you judge us for it.

It hurts, you know? The way you stare at us when you find out we’re sick. The way the look in your eyes change when you see our scars. The way you form a radius around us and stare whenever we have a nervous breakdown. If you saw the world through our eyes, you would break down, too. You would be terrified.

But that’s life for us, every day. We go to bed at night, with a head full of all the names you call us, and all the looks you give us, knowing that tomorrow, you’re going to do the same damn thing again.

It’s just unfair – you’d visit dying people you don’t know in a cancer ward, but you wouldn’t even stand next to someone diagnosed with a mental illness. You have no idea just how terrified, and just how alone we feel. We are just as afraid of ourselves as you are. But we are people, too. We have emotions, a family, a past, a present. We even have a future. That is, if you stop taking that away from us. You take away our future with your discrimination and shallow-mindedness.

Stop defining us by our diagnoses.
We are more than walking mental illnesses.
We are humans too.
We’re just sick.

Cordially,
the-people-who-are-walking-diagnoses-to-you.

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