Friday, November 4, 2011

Discriminate?

Today’s Merriam-Webster word of the day is discriminate (\diss-KRIM-uh-nayt\  : to see the special features of b : to perceive a difference in : differentiate ; to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; especially : to distinguish from another like object ; to make a difference in treatment or favour on a basis other than individual merit.

When I was diagnosed first with major depression, and then bipolar disorder I expected to encounter some discrimination or stigma, especially at work. However that is not what happened at all – my co-workers were 100% supportive right from the get go – for that I am eternally grateful. And then when I started bringing Spike to work as a service dog I really expected to experience it, after all with Spike at my side I was suddenly advertising a disability, one that couldn’t be seen.

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Questions were asked by both people that knew me (but not well), and strangers. I had decided at the outset that I would be open and honest, perhaps helping to break some stigma.  Well, my faith in human nature was totally vindicated – people, even strangers, were kind and supportive. Many of them had family members or friends that also had a mental illness of some sort. And the people who knew me from work - they were without exception surprised – which I thought was a good counter for all the crazy stories on the news about people with bipolar – see I don’t have two heads, nor is my head spinning around like Linda Blair’s. I seem pretty normal to all but those really close to me (Carm and a few close friends), and in fact when my medication is working well I AM normal.

The funniest question with little wee Spike at my  side – is he going to be a seeing eye dog!

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He’s a bit little to be my seeing eye dog!

In the last few years mental illness has become more of an item in the news with many celebrities supporting the cause. I hope that this helps more people to get the help that they need, because with that help it is possible to live a normal life.

 

This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.
Brenda Ueland