There is a forum I participate on for people that have had weight loss surgery. Tonight I read a post from someone that had weight loss surgery several years ago and now has to have surgery again to repair a hernia. She was advised to wear an abdominal binder afterward and posted to ask for advice about where to get one. If possible, she said, she would like one that she could wear under her clothes because she doesn't want to look like a mental patient.
Well. I have been a mental patient. Many times, in fact. In many different mental hospitals. Well, OK, most were not mental hospitals, they were general hospitals with psychiatric wards, but two of them were psychiatric hospitals. That's all they did.
Anyway. I have been a mental patient and I never wore an abdominal binder of any kind when I was in a mental hospital. None of the other patients wore abdominal binders, either, as far as I knew. Which is what I said in my reply to her.
Now, I know what she meant. She meant that she doesn't want to look odd or abnormal. She doesn't really think mental patients wear abdominal binders, nor does she think that people might think she is wearing an abdominal binder because she has schizophrenia or PTSD or bipolar disorder.
But... I think she probably thinks mental patients look odd or abnormal. Or maybe she doesn't just think they look odd or abnormal, maybe she thinks they are odd or abnormal. If she didn't think that, why would she suggest she would look like a mental patient if she wore an abdominal binder?
Her question had nothing to do with mental health. Nothing to do with mental illness. Why stick that little jab in there about how mental patients are weird? It was unnecessary. She probably didn't mean to be cruel, but it is cruel to suggest that mental patients look abnormal. It is cruel to say she wants to make sure she is never mistaken for one.
Words matter. They do.
She hasn't replied to my response to her. We'll see if she does.