“At least you’re not schizophrenic.”

I remember the first conversation I had after receiving my diagnosis as if it was yesterday. I stood in the dreary parking lot of an even more dreary advice center for mental health and was quite devastated. In my hand I had prescriptions for three different meds of which two could lead to addiction but very little information on how to find a therapy place. I had declined the offer of a social worker who would help me to re-integrate into a job as I already was employed, even though the receptionist hardly believed me. Furthermore, I hadn’t made use of the debt advice service as my bank account was one of the few things that were fine.

Obviously it was raining but that didn’t really matter any more. I decided to light a cigarette for a start. Beside me there was a person who looked really broken, his eyes told me that the psychiatrist I had just consulted had already given him tranquilizers any junkie could just dream of.

“So, what is your label?” he asked in a drawling voice with a heavy Viennese accent.
“BPD, seasoned with some depression and a highly interesting panic disorder to make it more exciting.”
“Well, at least you’re not schizophrenic.”

Today I still have to chuckle about this, I don’t really know, why. Maybe because I always thought that a ranking for illnesses is bullshit (sure, cirrhosis is more unpleasant than a head cold but you know what I mean) or because it was just so nice and flat in a situation where I felt that my diagnoses explained everything and at the same time that they couldn’t be true (after all you were just ill when you couldn’t do anything any more, right? I functioned too well for the social worker so I couldn’t be ill…).
Well, anyway, I’ve seen this ranking very often: “He just has depression.”, “What, you’ve never had to have stitches?”, “Really, just one tablet a day?” – as if certain things could say anything about how bad a person actually feels. My “At least you’re not schizophrenic”-moment was an eye-opener and I decided never to compare like this – one reason for me to avoid self-help groups, what am I supposed to do with a room full of people who understand each other but will comfort themselves with the thought that others are just as bad or even worse at the end of the day?
I’ve always been scared of being hospitalized and then either being too difficult or not sick enough because what are those phrases? As if all that was an exclusive club that makes everyone want to leave. As if one had to justify to be considered as sick compared to someone who has something more serious. As if loss of control was necessary for saying “I’m  a wreck.”

I don’t even know what I want to say with this post, it’s just that I had to think about this moment and write a little and share this with you 🙂

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