Friends, the days of mental illness being too taboo to discuss are over. The time when mental illness existed in the shadows, stigmatized or never acknowledged, is gone. We are finally talking openly about various psychological conditions, and I’m so glad that we are, because it’s made it a whole lot easier for me to blame every societal problem on people with mental illnesses.
It used to be that if you wanted to discover the causes of homelessness, you had to use complex statistical methods drawing on housing costs, employment, social ties, and migration to gain an understanding of what was happening. Now that we’re no longer living in the dark age of hiding mental illness away, all we need to do is see somebody who “looks weird” talking to themselves in front of a Jiffy Lube to know exactly what causes homelessness: people with mental illnesses.
Back before our enlightened age, if we wanted to know what caused crime, we would need to pore over historical data and, even more disturbingly, talk to people. Now that our understanding of our nation’s cities is finally as nuanced as a Cocomelon song, we have a better idea of what causes crime: people with mental illnesses.
Though my reasoning has been faultless, I’d like to underline my own expertise in this field. In my free time, I like to watch shows about how people with dissociative personality disorder are unhinged killing machines, how people with sociopathy are unhinged killing machines, and how people with psychosis are unhinged killing machines. The shows are entertaining, but more than that, they’re educational.
When I’m not reading articles blaming teenagers’ low sense of self-worth on actors with body dysmorphia and a history of disordered eating, you can find me imbibing tweets claiming that a certain political orientation is itself a mental illness.
Point to a problem, and I guarantee you that someone with a mental illness is causing it. Just yesterday, I was driving on the highway, and the sun got in my eyes and it caused my eyes to water for several seconds. Who put the sun there? I’m not 100 percent positive, but it was likely someone with schizoaffective disorder.
Why are Tostitos so expensive all of a sudden? How come my neighbor’s teenage son laughed a little bit when I lost control of my longboard and fell into a mesh deer fence? I think we all know why: because someone out there has bipolar disorder, and that person has caused all hell to break loose.
Empathy. I bet you weren’t expecting that word to happen. But it did. And you know why? Because it’s important. Because I’m important. Because we can’t start claiming that everything from bad driving to misogyny is indicative of a mental illness without also realizing that these incurable freaks are people too. Bad, awful people with something horrible and permanent buried deep inside of them, but people nonetheless, who need to stay away from my family.
I mean, how would you feel if someone told you that if your meds stopped working, you’d become an unhinged killing machine? I bet you’d be pretty scared. And you’d probably become an unhinged killing machine way before your meds stopped working. With empathy, I think we can realize that rich people with mental illnesses have a shot at leading regular lives, whereas poor people with mental illnesses should be put in a locked facility in the woods downwind from a superfund site.
Results. That’s another word that’s happened. And you know why? Because we need to realize that making generalizations about people with mental illnesses isn’t productive. What we need to do instead is take action by blocking a mental health facility that accepts Medicaid from being built near my house.
Despite all our progress, there’s still plenty of work to be done in the broader area of mental wellness. How many of us, in the past week, claimed we were “sort of ADHD” because we got distracted for ten minutes? How many of us, because we like our toothbrush put away just so, claim to “basically have OCD.” In my view, not nearly enough. Our work is not done until every neurotypical person claims to have a psychological condition, and every neurodivergent person is made to feel weird and bad all the time.
Say it with me: until everyone diagnosed with sociopathy immediately says, “Oh no, I am Evil Incarnate,” we are not done. Until every politician who votes for a budget we don’t like is described as psychotic, and every person with psychosis is made to feel like a moral failure for something they have little control over, we are not done.
We are capable of building the world we deserve. We just first need to realize who’s at fault for our current world: people whose lives are harder than mine.