This article first appeared on Everyday Feminism and is reprinted by permission.
Have you ever heard a first-person account of schizophrenia? The media’s inaccurate portrayals lead us to misunderstand and mistreat schizophrenics because we don’t know the truth about what they’re going through.
So stop believing in the stigma with this realistic point of view that shows how we can all make a difference with a little understanding.
[Headline Image: A color image of a light skinned person with a long black pony tail stands on a train platform. They are wearing a white blouse and black bottoms and are looking in front of them to the right. They have a black bag on their shoulder. In front of them, a train is whizzing by in black and white.]
Christine Deneweth is a queer cartoonist and artist living in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She is a cartoonist for Eastern Michigan University’s newspaper the Eastern Echo. She writes children’s books about mental disability and has a comic strip that has been published for five years. Comics can be found on her Facebook page, and art can be found on her Instagram@crassaster. Check out her comics here.
Title: Schizophrenia: Insider’s Point of View
(Crass introduces herself.)
Crass: Hi my name is Crass, and I’m a schizophrenic
Crass: But since I’m schizophrenic, I’m misunderstood, stigmatized, and just plain invisible. This is about how it impacts me.
Text: Media makes us into killers and crazies.
(Crass turning off the TV)
Crass: How many times is the killer schizophrenic? How many schizophrenic protagonists have you seen that were realistic?
(Crass talking to a guy who is disgusted by her)
Text: And this is the only idea of schizophrenia people have to go off of.
Crass: I’m schizophrenic.
(Crass reaching out to the guy)
Crass: I’m not a killer, and I’m not crazy!
(Crass tearing down the crazy schizophrenic image)
Crass: I’m tired of this being the only image of schizophrenia.
(Crass and the guy walking away from each other)
Text: The way media portrays us further isolates us.
Text: We have to act neurotypical, even on bad days.
(Crass talking to friend)
Text: Most days I can blend – pretend to be social, have conversations I don’t want to have, and appear neurotypical – even though I’d prefer to be left alone.
(Crass standing on the floor, surrounded by lava)
Text: But some days are bad. Sometimes everyone doesn’t feel real. Sometimes the world is warped.
(Crass scared of friend on her phone)
Text: Sometimes I’m so hyper-aware of other people’s actions I jump to conclusions and get too paranoid to be around others.
(Crass wrapped in blankets)
Text: I’ll neglect cleaning the house, I’ll neglect friendships, and I’ll neglect myself. Sleeping and eating are all I can manage some days.
(Crass and friend texting)
Title: For friends of schizophrenics: Understand we may need a lot of space, but it isn’t personal. Trying to act neurotypical is exhausting. We’re happy you’re patient with us.
Text: There is more to hallucinations than voices. Some are good, some are bad.
(Crass experiencing hallucinations)
Text: There are smell, taste, sight, and touch hallucinations, too. I have random tingles and see birds that aren’t there. And it’s totally fine.
(Crass writing a list)
Text: I have voices, too. Some are my friend’s voices. Some are random. They mostly say gibberish or remind me of things I need to do.
(Crass standing with another friend and hallucinating)
Text: Symptoms and severity vary from person to person. But hallucinations are a symptom that is not accepted by the neruotypical.
(Crass sitting with friend still hallucinating)
Text: Even if people empathize, they still don’t know what it’s like.
(Disorders people relate to: depression and anxiety. The word “schizophrenia” is covered up.)
Text: Lack of understanding make schizophrenics feel unheard and invisible.
Text: We have to come out to people. It isn’t always pretty.
(Crass upset by ignorant person)
Text: It’s not just people’s judgments.
Person: You’re a crazy person.
(Crass behind bars)
Text: I could get fired/ not hired or even unfairly incarcerated.
(Cop yelling at a flustered Crass)
Text: Police officers are not trained to deal with potentially schizophrenic people.
Cop: Give me your name!
Crass: I can’t! I’m scared!
(Cop sees violent stereotype of schizophrenic)
Text: And thanks to our only image, police assume we are violent. The reality is that a majority of schizophrenics are non-violent.
(Unknown hero silhouette)
Text: Where are the positive schizophrenic role models? For our sake and for the sake of educating the neurotypicals.
Text: Tips for the neurotypical
(Crass and friend)
Text: Our behavior can change. We have good days and bad days. Be patient.
(Crass chases bird hallucination)
Text: Don’t judge anyone that is behaving strangely. You are not experiencing what they are. Just listen!
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[Feature Image: A person with long dark hair in a pony tail standing in front of a moving train. They are wearing a white shirt and a black handbag. ]