This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.
I’ve heard it a few times before.
“You don’t look like you’re crazy.”
But what exactly does mental illness look like?
I sat in my DBT group today and couldn’t stay focused. I spent some time looking around at our group of 10 people, 12 if you count the instructors (who, as Social Workers, most likely have diagnoses of their own, it’s pretty common) and we are all different shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds and education levels. This class is taught in modules with a few of us switching out every month and with me on my 37th week, I’ve seen a lot of people come through here. We all look different, we all have different stories.
None of us “look crazy.”
Well, maybe a few of us, especially those of us with pink and purple hair, and bright pink unicorn covered skirts and sparkly rainbow Docs.
That’s me, maybe I look a little crazy.
The other day on mobility there was a huge mix up and I got stuck on the bus without a drop off scheduled. “It’s really important that I don’t miss my therapy appointment, is this fixable quickly?”
“What? Are you one of those bipolar people, turn into the she-hulk or something, start hitting people with trash cans?” I told him it wasn’t quite like that. He says, “I don’t know, you look like you’ve got a streak in ya.”
What exactly does that streak look like? And we won’t go into just how wrong that entire conversation was, fuck that nonsense.
But, mental illness doesn’t have a look, and I’m amazed that there are people who think it does. It’s part of the stigma that still attached. You’re crazy therefore you must be visibly ill, visibly disheveled, you must wear it like a scarlet letter.
What exactly does mental illness look like?
It looks just like me.
It looks just like my neighbor down the street.
It looks just like that law student.
It looks just like that therapist.
It looks just like that EMT.
It looks just like your doctor.
It looks just like you.