The stigma of mental illnesses manifests itself in any ways today. Most of these are intrinsic while there are very few people who explicitly admit that they have negative stereotypes against the mentally ill.
One of those stigmatising exercise is surprisingly common in mental health activists as well. This is the ‘discrimination by language’.
Have you ever met someone who has cancer or a fever? If you had to describe such a person what would you say?
“He was found to have cancer 2 years back and has been seeking treatment for it. It was caught in an early stage so he will be cancer free soon.”
If you had to do the same to someone with schizophrenia, what would you say?
“He is schizophrenic and is undergoing therapy. He has been courageous throughout. I am proud to know him.”
Notice a difference?
Do you see how we say a person HAS CANCER but another person IS SCHIZOPHRENIC?
WHY THIS DIFFERENCE?
We don’t call someone with malaria as ‘malaric’ but why do we call those who have anorexia as ‘anorexic’?
It is because we have a tendency to form a separate identity for those who are mentally ill. Someone with cancer is suffering from a disease but someone with anorexia IS that disease. I often see people who try to raise mental health awareness do this too. They like to use the words as adjectives or introduce themselves as their disease.
People are not just their disease. They are much more than that.
No one is ‘anorexic’, ‘bipolar’ or ‘schizophrenic’.
After all no one is ‘pneumonic’ either.