Antipsychiatry stigma can affect people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. And having schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder is hard enough without having people tell you that you shouldn’t be taking your medications. Antipsychiatry and stigma is rampant and dangerous not to mention it’s rude to question one’s choice of treatment for an illness. Unfortunately, antipsychiatry is a stigma that everyone with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other mental illnesses runs into at some point.
Antipsychiatry Stigma Is Dangerous
“You seem normal. You don’t seem like someone who needs psychiatric medication.” Responding to this reminds me of the old advertisements for dandruff shampoo. One person says, “But you don’t have dandruff!” The other person replies, “That’s because I use the anti-dandruff shampoo.” I “seem normal” because I take the psychiatric medications.
Before I started taking psychiatric medication, I was in the middle of a psychotic episode and I thought people were following me. I felt that the voices I heard were real, and that they belonged to the people who were following me. Honestly, I thought they were stalking me. I thought strangers on the street, and even characters on television shows, were watching me. The antipsychotic medication made all that go away, except for the voices. But the medication made me realize that the voices weren’t real. I firmly believe that a key breakthrough to successfully managing the voices is knowing they’re not real. And I have the medication to thank for giving me that breakthrough.
It’s quite simple: antipsychiatry is dangerous to people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other mental illnesses because psychiatry is crucial in helping people with those illnesses. Antipsychiatry is a form of mental illness stigma. Would you tell a person with diabetes to stop taking their insulin? Would you tell a person with a heart condition to stop taking their medication? Of course not. So why would anyone tell a person with a biological illness in their brain to stop taking their medication?
Preaching Antipsychiatry Stigma to People With Schizoaffective Disorder Is Obnoxious
I have a series of faces in my memory of the people who have tried to tell me I shouldn’t take medication for my schizoaffective disorder. Let’s just say almost all of those faces belong to people I’m not friends with anymore. What right do they have to tell me what to do with my personal health and wellbeing? Do they think I take these medications for fun? No, I don’t. I take them because I have an illness that only the medications can treat. I’ve done my research. I know what the psychiatric medication side effects are. And, at the end of the day, whether I take psychiatric medication is my decision to make, and mine alone. You know what? If you have a problem with psychiatric medications, then don’t take them. But don’t try to foist your views onto me.
Photo by Elizabeth Caudy.