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  • People have a general idea of insanity or craziness or madness that they associate with the idea of schizophrenia.

  • It's kind of an idea of wildness, not so much what psychosis might actually be but more of an idea of violence or just being crazy.

  • My name is Esme Weijun Wang, I attended Yale University and Stanford University and I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type since 2013.

  • Before I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder I had already been in the mental health care system for quite a number of years.

  • I'd been diagnosed with depression and anxiety since I was about 15 or 16, and then I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in my late teens.

  • When I was finally diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, I felt a great sense of relief.

  • It's quite common for people to go through a number of diagnoses before they reach their final diagnosis.

  • And I think that part of the reason this happens is that schizoaffective disorder in particular, but also the schizophrenias in general, is a rather stigmatised diagnosis.

  • And so often doctors will resist that diagnosis for as long as possible.

  • So they start with the quote unquote, "easier diagnoses".

  • They might start with depression and then move on to bipolar disorder as they did in my case.

  • People tend to think of schizophrenia in a way that they don't think about other mental health diagnoses.

  • When people think about depression, they often think about the person that has depression as still themselves.

  • When they think about schizophrenia they tend to think about this person who is who they were,

  • but then kind of scooped out and removed and replaced by this awful disease and the person who used to be there and was a good and normal person is gone.

  • They're possessed as though by a demon, as though in the movie The Exorcist.

  • Except instead of a demon, they're replaced by schizophrenia.

  • Because people think that there is a kind of possession involved in schizophrenia or the schizophrenias,

  • they also believe that the person has no autonomy over themselves and no right to make decisions over their own care.

  • Therefore, forcible treatment or forced hospitalisation becomes necessary.

  • I think that in order for schizophrenia and the schizophrenias to become less taboo in culture, there need to be more stories.

  • I think that people need to come out about their diagnoses, there need to be more narratives about what the diagnosis means.

  • But there also needs to be better treatment and if there is better treatment, if there are more stories, if there are more narratives,

  • If people can know that there are people all around them who have this diagnosis, I think stigma will decrease.

  • I use my accomplishments, I use the way I dress, I use my relationships all as ways to prove,

  • "Look! I'm still a worthy member of society even though I have this severe form of mental illness."

  • This also means that I'm part of the problem when it comes to looking at people who are perhaps less quote unquote, "high-functioning".

  • The person on the bus who's screaming, the houseless person who has lost their job because there is something very wrong with them in terms of their mental health.

  • And I know that, that is me dealing with the stigma as well, the self-stigma.

  • That is their diagnosis, as well as mine.

  • I would like people to understand that it's possible for you to know somebody who has schizophrenia or some form of the schizophrenias without you knowing.

  • People with that diagnosis, like me, are everywhere and we are living lives that are full and wonderful and we also like blueberry pie.

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People have a general idea of insanity or craziness or madness that they associate with the idea of schizophrenia.

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Schizophrenia: Breaking the mental health stigma | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2022/11/23
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