Here’s a perfect example of what happens once you’re given the label “mentally ill”:
Look at the difference between the psychiatric definition (#4) and every other definition. Generally, using a neologism is a creative use of language, which is a good thing. But for those labeled mentally ill, a neologism is a nonsense word-it’s meaningless. Why? Well, because once you’re mentally ill, everything you have to say is at best, suspect, and at worst, absurd.
It doesn’t matter that many mental disorders are cyclical. Even when you’re doing well, you’re still stigmatized. I wrote about my gallbladder surgery recently. Once the gastroenterologist reviewed my history and saw “lithium”, his manner changed. He did the physical exam and informed my that my gallbladder felt fine (the test results and the surgeon disagreed), and that it would be difficult to sedate me for the endoscopy he ordered (it wasn’t). He even said I’d be so difficult to sedate that I might be awake during the entire procedure (which included 8 biopsies).
Anyone else out there terrified of medical procedures? I am, and the buildup of anxiety (I also have an anxiety disorder!) before my endoscopy was terrible. What actually happened? I remember watching him inject the drugs, then a nurse telling me I needed to wake up so I could go home.
When the nurse was prepping me, and Dr. Bigot hadn’t arrived yet, I confided that I was scared of being awake during the endoscopy. The nurse said “Oh, honey, if you ever give signs that you’re not fully sedated, we just give you more drugs. We don’t want you to be awake during something like this!”
I guess she hadn’t seen “lithium” on my chart.