“end the stigma” and ableism in the same breath

They mention Adam Lanza. They always mention Adam Lanza. The mentally ill need treatment, they say. They’ll end up like Adam Lanza. End the stigma, they say. Talk about your mental illness! We can end the stigma by you sharing your stories and struggles. Then they mention Adam Lanza.

Treatment is important. No one has access to treatment. Treatment is code for institutionalization. People with mental illness are in jail a lot! Like the man in the tree, who should be hospitalized indefinitely – the solution to incarceration is more hospital beds, they say.

Someone lies down on the floor in the hospital. They medicate him. Someone gets forcibly medicated, restrained, made fun of, and mistreated in the hospital. No one cares.  The faceless professionals give you a sleeping aid, a paper-thin blanket and an anti-anxiety drug, sometimes more. They give you a paper cup with water to take the pills with. The pills will keep you safe, they say. There are more pills. There have always been pills. The side effects don’t matter, historically and now. But – end the stigma of being in the hospital! Hospitals are good for people. They are friendly places that only want to help. They help! They can keep people from turning into Adam Lanza.

Your hospital bills come in the mail. They charge you over a thousand dollars with insurance. If you don’t have insurance, well, good luck. They charge you for the psychiatrist. They charge you for the therapists. They charge you for the ER visit. They charge you for general inpatient stay.  There are a lot of bills. They send you another hospital bill every week.

You can recover, they say! Just try harder. Be compliant. Doctors know best. No self-directed services. You don’t know what’s best for you, they say. Recovery should be your goal. Recovery is the only thing worth trying for when you’re mentally ill. End the stigma, they say. Talk about recovery.

You tweet into the #MHM2016 hashtag with a post you wrote as a mentally ill person expressing displeasure at the focus on access to treatment. You get exactly one retweet and two favorites. No one else notices or engages with you.

The members of Congress consider legislation, H.R. 2646, that will slash funding for programs to keep you from being homeless and restrict programs that protect your rights. Forced treatment is more important than stable housing, after all. They mean you belong in a hospital. They mention Adam Lanza.

Family members write articles called “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” They are always talking about Adam Lanza and treatment. Treatment is important. No one has access to treatment. Treatment is code for institutionalization. The Protection and Advocacy for People with Mental Illness (PAIMI) programs made my child homeless, they complain, they could have gone to an institution instead!

President Obama makes remarks about the San Bernardino shooters being sick in the head. The Obama administration declares May Mental Health Awareness Month. May officially is on your blacklist now.


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