Ok. So you all know that my husband has Dementia. I know, I barely mention it anywhere (PFFT). Dementia is a mental illness, which makes my husband a mental patient which makes my girls the children of a mental patient, but I can catagorically assure you that we have never found him rattling around the house, or anywhere else for that matter, in a blood soaked straight jacket whilst weilding an axe.
We love Halloween here, so don't acuse me of being the fun police, but finding Asda, Amazon and Tesco selling "Mental Patient" costumes really drew me like a red rag to a bull (Asda have since pulled the said costume and have issued an apology and are donating a sizeable contribution to a mental health charity). We've been in waiting rooms with many other "mental patients" and again, neither of us have clocked any "Crimewatch" suspects, and yes there might be a possibility that if hubby had seen one, he'd forget, but I and the many staff that work in these hospitals (note to people - they're no longer called institutions), would remember.
The furore on Twitter last night interested me. There were many there saying the same thing as I had. I had my tweets retweeted, and I had retweeted other's, but what got me interested is reading the opposing team's thoughts on the matter. "There's nothing wrong with it", "Get a grip", "Shame on the companies for boughing down to public witch hunts", that kind of thing, and this is what got the old grey matter into overdrive well past sleep time.
It isn't the costume that I was offended at. Not at all. It's the perception that "mental patients" (there it is again) are all loons, that they've just escaped from the padded cell, that they should be in Bedlam (still a word used to mean uproar and confusion), and that they should be feared that offended me, and by titling a costume as such simply allows this misconception to be considered acceptable in the public domain.
There are many charities and individuals who work tiredlessly to try and extinguish these ignorant and crass thoughts. There are many who suffer from illnesses who try to dispell these misconceptions. Nobody laughs at Cancer, it's just wouldn't be accepted, yet illnesses that fall into the mental health category seem fair game, and this is what we're trying to eradacate.
It's the stigma of "mental health" that we all struggle with. It's not the illness, which is bad enough, that is the problem. It's people's reactions to "oh... you've got "such and such" and no, Johnny can't come to play at your house now" kind of comments. It's the misguided assumptions and comments that are the problem. Ignorance should not be tolerated in this day and age. The saying "if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all" would stand us all in good stead. Also "don't judge a book by it's cover" is another good one.
The furore on Twitter over the past 24 hours isn't a bunch of loonies trying to jump on a band wagon just because they want to. We jumped on the band wagon because we treat our relatives, patients and complete strangers who suffer with this God awful illness with respect, and that is what was missing when these companies sold/sell this costume. If it wasn't for people like us saying "no" to whatever, then people like the "get on with it and stop complaining" would continue with their arrogant, ignorant and unamusing comments - because believe it or not, I only appreciate an insult if it shows intelligence. Non of the insults on Twitter last night showed this, infact they only showed them in poor light with poor taste jumping onto a band wagon so that they could insult, which to me shows ignorance and cowardice.
I sincerely hope that these individuals do not become the 1 in 4 who suffer from a mental illness, or anyone they know for that matter. It's only then that they will feel the stigma of such an illness and come across the ignorance and misguided who make these illnesses far worse than they have to be, and believe it or not, that is bad enough.