I was born disabled. I was autistic until I learned how to smile. I was a bipolar sociopath until I developed ADHD. Then I turned 5. I was bombarded with so much ‘normal’ that it eventually drove me crazy.
Labels. We catalogue our lives with them. We judge, simply to index our experiences. I sometimes wonder where these labels come from, then I realise it doesn’t matter. We need to categorise, our brains are wired this way. But the labels are not just words. They have deep rooted feelings. We don’t just read the words. We feel them.
If we were to label a baby, define them using the same words we use to categorise each other, how would we feel about the child? A baby is born physically disabled. They lack emotional intelligence and understanding, but would we measure them on the slide rule of autism? They develop stages of mania and sudden calmness. They think they are the centre of their world and learn early on how to manipulate the people around them. They have short attention spans and get easily distracted. Then, just as they develop social awareness, we beat them mercilessly with ‘normal’, until they become mentally fatigued.
Mental illness isn’t a defect, it is a natural part of humanity. Why are we so scared to talk about this? Charlie Sheen can talk about AIDS on a global stage, but as individuals we are scared to talk about our mental health.
One day, it will be just as easy to say you are schizophrenic as it is to say you are arachnophobic or a teacher or a mother. One day labels will just be words. One day we will all feel better.