take your meds
by dm gillis
FYI, telling a person who you know has a mental disability to ‘take your meds’ when you disagree with her or him, is bigotry. It’s also a cheap and lazy way to make your point in a conversation. It’s the same as calling them a psycho, a mental case, a retard or any other prejudicial term.
I was made acutely aware of how common this use of language is once more today, when a person in my neighbourhood, who knows I live with a mental disability, disagreed with me on the topic of personal boundaries.
“Oh, take your meds,” he said, like that cemented his side of the conversation.
“What a bigoted thing to say,” I said. “Do you know how hateful and stigmatising a term that is?”
Apparently not. He looked shocked for a moment, then incredulous. Then he told me to fuck off, and walked away.
This is a person who would never use the N word, or any other horrible slur against a racial minority, and rightly so. But he felt within his rights to slap me with this stigmatising term. Perhaps he didn’t expect a person with bipolar disorder, who endures episodic bouts of psychosis, to logically assert himself in a conversation.
But I wonder, how many times do I have to be certified under the Mental Health Act, and held against my will, without being charged with or convicted of any crime? How many times do I have to attempt suicide because the voices and my inner narrative say it’s the only way? How many times do I have to be beaten and restrained by the police for eccentric, but harmless behaviours? How long do I have to subsist living in legislated poverty? And, how many times do I have to encounter mocking and infantilizing dismissal, whenever I raise these questions?
Finally, how long do I have to survive in spite of these things, and more, and mostly prosper, before I gain the right to respect?