"Breaking The Stigma" Part 3

Breaking the Stigma Part Three

47 ABC - Although treatment for mental illness has come a long way, the way society views it still has a way to go.

53-year old David Ziehl, who is bipolar said when people think about living with mental illness they immediately think people are mentally unstable.

"You're crazy, I think. First words out of their mouth you're crazy... I don't believe you. You don't have that," Ziehl said.

Media contributes to those views or stigma though movies about killer with mental illness Movies about killers with mental illness or even news stories covering crimes stories where mental illness is associated.

Ziehl said he believes people are scared of people with mental illness.

"Because of how it was portrayed sometimes out there that you don't know if the person will flip on you, go after you, go crazy on you," Ziehl said. "I don't think so. I think they're more calmer, but they're more scared. The person that has the mental illness is more scared of you than anything."

In truth, according to Kristi Garlitz the clinical director for the Lower Shore Clinic there's no correlation between mental illness and violence. 

"The stigma of somebody being dangerous just because they have a mental illness is totally wrong," Garlitz said.

That stigma though can create problems for those with mental illness trying to live regular lives within society. 

As 57-year-old Vivian Miller explains the fear of being mistreated also can make living a regular life a daunting task.

Miller explains many people lack an understanding about mental illness and sometimes lash out in frustration.

"They shouldn't do that to some people cause some people will just, you know, they might end up really harming themselves just because of that you know, because when people have mental disabilities you feel vulnerable, you feel not normal, you're an outcast and then when other people come to you like that you know some people it could push them over the edge," Miller said.

The biggest challenge though may come for those like 27-year-old Brittany Starns who is bipolar, but also has schizophrenia. a psychotic disorder.

"They just call you crazy and they think that you can't be a productive member of society and they think that you can never get a job and think that you can never put anything into society," Starns said.

As Dimitri Cavathas CEO of Go-Getters and Lower Shore Clinic explains society has the toughest time accepting and understanding those with psychotic disorders.

"So these are people with thought disorders, that you know hear voices, or maybe have visual hallucinations and they have continued to be demonized," Cavathas said. "It's just not accepted and people don't understand it still and it's by far the hardest mental illness to have people accept."

For Starns she's put in the hard work with help from Go-Getters and the Lower Shore clinic and beat the odds. 

Her medicine keeps the voices and hallucinations away her drive to better herself allows her to live in a Go-Getters home with a roommate and to have a job where she says she'll get more hours soon.

For Milller too, she is also working.  With help from the vocational program at Go-Getters and Lower Shore Clinic she now works in Ocean City, managing kitchen staff.

"They're not judgmental and yeah it's like a family there you know," Miller said.

"The guy told me the kitchen that she was working in wouldn't function unless she was there and I don't know too many people that can actually say their employer says that about them," said Thelma Orr Somerset County Director for Go-Getters.

For Ziehl, who made it through the program getting control of his bipolar disorder,  depression and alcoholism he now works for Go-Getters and Lower Shore Clinic and lives in a Go-Getters townhouse with a roommate.

Not only that he now has rekindled his relationship with his daughter and is involved with his grand kids.

"They're just starting to talk they call me pop-pop, I sit down and do stuff with them and it feels very good knowing that they trust me and I can do things with them now  and if I was drinking I wouldn't be able to do any of it," Ziehl said.

And for Charles Green, who through treatment learned to live with his bipolar-schizoeffective disorder and depression he helps as an ambassador to Go-Getters adult day program.

"By the grace of god I'm here man, by the grace of god, but I wouldn't change nothing in my life at all nothing, because it made me into the person I am today I got my joy back, I got my right mind back, I got my integrity, i got all this good stuff going for me," Green said.

So what can you do at home to pay it forward  well as Charles told me if you see someone struggling tell them hey things are going to get better shake their hand or just give them a friendly smile it means a lot you never know what a persons going through or how you can change their day by speaking to them and being nice to them.

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