As a local politician who has spent their entire life fighting for social justice it feels odd to be sitting down and writing something about Donald Trump that is condemning people who are attacking him but this is something I feel strongly about. Recently I have seen articles pop up peppered with pseudo-psychiatry about Donald’s Trumps state of mind, some even go as far as to diagnose Donald Trump with a mental health condition. It is my belief that articles like these and the professionals who participate in them are not only ethically bankrupt but are actively perpetuating the stigma that exists against people with mental illness.

In my view diagnosis is something that should provide both the patient and healthcare professional an understanding and framework of how to manage health. Diagnosis in the context of mental health is particularly important because society still has not fully grasped the difference between everyday mental health experiences and mental illness (mental health conditions). Having a mental illness is debilitating and often people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness have their experienced trivialised. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a prime example of this, a debilitating and in some cases life threatening condition that is trivialised daily, how often have we heard statements like “That’s so OCD”.

Society understands the difference between physical health and physical illness and you can have a physical illness and maintain a physically healthy life, the same is true for mental health and mental illness. Just because you have a mental illness does not mean you cannot be mentally healthy. For me this point represents the root of much of the stigma people with mental illness face daily, in that society is still wrestling with the fact that people with mental illness can live a normal and content life without being an unstable psychopath.

I am a politician with a mental illness, when I was elected to office in Basildon I was still receiving treatment for psychotic episodes, some clinicians said I was experiencing schizophrenia. Did I threaten to build a wall between Basildon and Thurrock? Did I publicly insult people of different races, genders and ability? Did I brush off every critic of me as an alternative fact? No I did my job, and did it as best I could and I battled with my demons privately at home. Most people would never know that I had voices in my head, was plagued with suicidal ideation’s or that I had an unrelenting anxiety and paranoia

Now I am not trying to compare the office of local councillor at a small town in the UK to the office of president however my point is that you cannot truly understand someone’s mental health until you see the whole person and that most people with a mental illness are like me, they get on with their life and battle with their demons in private. Having a mental illness does not mean you are somehow less able to manage than other people. You can experience mental illness and hold down a high-pressured job without being a dense, cold, irrational callous and ignorant bigot.

Categories: Blog

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