When I was on a psychiatric ward in the early 90’s with depression I discovered that there was a hierarchy of mental illness. The psychotic illnesses were top of the tree with depression low down, but above those with addictions. This hierarchy was evident both amongst patients and staff. I realised that even those that experience most discrimination are still capable of discriminating. Since then I have met a huge number of people with physical disabilites,and amongst this group I have found a number that “don’t believe” in mental illness; even though a lot of people with physical illness experience mental illness and addictions.
I believe that “an arsehole is an arsehole” and that just because you have a mental illness or a physical disability you are not necessarily a “nice person” and are more than capable of prejudice. There are members of extreme right wing groups from both camps, so I really shouldn’t be surprised that discrimination occurs amongst these groups, especially when we are under attack.
Even I have been subconsciously guilty, especially when I was an advocate filling out the old DLA forms. I resented how easy it appeared to be for those with physical problems against those with mental health issues, I got upset at how much the DDA seemed to favour visible disability. So I know how easy it is to be turned against those that I should work alongside.
Governments have always exploited the fact that sharing the description of disability is not enough to bond people together and make a cohesive force. They exploit our differences, look at how they use the media to highlight scroungers on benefit picking out specific disabilities often mental illness or back problems.
I believe that, now, at a time when all those with disabilities (the hardest hit) are under attack from our government we should put differences aside and unite against our common enemy.