When I Wanted to Have Cancer, Not a Mental Illness


When I wanted to have cancer, not a mental illness. This is a bit shameful to admit, I know. But there was a time – over 25 years ago now – when I was angry that others with serious health conditions got care, sympathy and concern while I diagnosed with Manic Depression got pity, disdain and rejection.

When I Wanted to Have Cancer, Not a Mental Illness
Cancer Awareness Ribbons

In my recently published memoir I include the experience of being forced out of a private, Jesuit University due to knowledge of my medical condition.

Mental Illness Should Receive the Same Compassionate Care as Physical Illness Click To Tweet

The three primary harassers (two clinical instructors and the Dean of Nursing) all had PHd’s in psychology. How’s that for ironic for you? And that is what I would call shameful.

Excellent Example of Mental Illness Stigma

The experience was included in the book as it was directly related to the experience of being diagnosed with a mental illness. And the malicious treatment the result of having others have access to my medical information. Tell me if that would have happened if I had been diagnosed with cancer?

I don’t think so.

I would have been given care, concern and most likely support in finishing the professional nursing program I was in. Or at least not targeted and forced to withdraw after 3 years spent at the school (The University of San Francisco in San Francisco, CA).

Definitely not that.

So it was included as an example of what someone living with a mental illness can experience. The discrimination a sufferer may face, as well as abuse. It’s not fair and anyone who abuses another is the one with the problem, not their victim. But that doesn’t make the situation any easier when you are the one who has been targeted.

Bipolar Illness Same as Cancer is Treatable

And it helps to explain why in years that followed during my early to mid-twenties I was jealous of those who were diagnosed with cancer. They not only got sympathy, they also got to die if treatment was unsuccessful.

When my treatment was unsuccessful I simply had to suffer. And try more things that often didn’t help or at times made me feel worse. It was awful. And treatment for cancer is no piece of cake, I know, but it seemed those folks were treated with dignity and respect. Not blamed for their illness or shunned and treated as an outcast.

Those were my perceptions at the time. And I felt guilty for being so selfish, thinking such selfish thoughts. Even if I had to suffer alone much of the time, I still was not given a death sentence.

Manic Depression – now called Bipolar 1 Disorder – can be treated. Some get better fairly quickly and stay well, others such as myself may suffer much and require various forms of treatment throughout their lives. Everyone is unique. Just like persons diagnosed with cancer are all unique.

And everyone deserves dignity, varied health care options, love and concern when dealing with any serious illness; whether it be mental or physical in orgin.

In peace, Molly

Image of ribbons a free use image on cliparts.co.


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