I am just now coming back from a long weekend with my partner (I can call him my fiancé now, but it’s gonna take me a while to get used to that).
It was really nice to see him, and we had a good time. We stayed one night in a nice hotel, and mobbed around town like always. We faced fewer problems with the public than we usually do this time, but I wanted to talk a little bit about the treatment we often face.
There’s a lot of prejudice about people with psychosis, and we encounter it not just when we’re having a psychotic break—though that’s certainly the most dangerous time for us, because that’s when our liberty, health, wellbeing, and even lives are most at risk. But just being ourselves on a good day has consequences in society that most people don’t recognize or think about as problems.
Even by myself, I often get tailed by store clerks, and I almost always get told to leave my backpack at the front of the store—it’s not a big backpack, either. It’s about eleven-by-seventeen inches, smaller than most purses, and I never see them ask anyone else with that small of a bag to leave it. My partner, who has schizophrenia, has it worse: he’s often kicked out of stores, accused of shoplifting, or not even allowed in (sometimes he dresses really nicely, but other times he wanders around in his pajamas and slippers. The “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” rule is actually very ableist/sanist. There’s nothing wrong with dressing like a slob. Seriously. Get over yourselves).
In hotels (especially nicer ones), we get questioned by the staff, and have to show our keys to prove we’re guests.
In restaurants, we’ve been denied seating. The excuse is often that they’re “full”, but we’re not given the option of waiting. We’ve also (more rarely) been asked to leave because we’re making other diners uncomfortable.
All of this happens not when we’re doing anything illegal, harmful, or even particularly distracting. My partner, and I to a lesser extent, just give off strange vibes. We make people nervous, because they’re conditioned to think of people with psychosis/people who act differently are dangerous.
We’re not dangerous.
I hope you think about this next time you interact with someone like us.