The homeless guy who sits outside of the grocery store and talks to himself in gibberish and begs for your spare change.
The kid at school who wears black every day and looks like they don’t wash their hair and draws weird pictures in the back of the classroom.
The disheveled person you are afraid to make eye contact with at the coffee shop or public library whom you pity as they sit and read newspapers and disturb the silence with loud chuckling or mumbling to themselves in between trying to start conversations with put-off and disinterested patrons.
The person who smells like booze and cigarettes standing at the pharmacy counter yelling about their pills and causing a scene.
These have become the faces of mental illness in America. These are the stereotypes that have polluted the way our society regards and treats those with whom we brand as “wacko,” “looney,” and “a dangerous kind of crazy.”
For a long time I thought this way, too. I did not understand what it meant to be a mentally ill person and could only draw from what I had gleaned from the news media and TV and movies about what it looked like.