Cowardly note shows intolerance
Raymond Parry did a brave thing last week and had his photo and comments on the front page of The Echo, talking about his mental illness and the closure of the MISA Lifestyle Support Program.
Last Thursday, just hours after the paper hit the streets, an anonymous letter was placed in Raymond’s letterbox, with the photo of him cut out along with the word mental from the headline, his face circled and the word ‘Der!’ written beside it.
His two housemates, who also suffer from a mental illness, were upset by the note.
“We were really angry on Ray’s behalf,” Helen Coyle said. “It’s a brave thing to admit you have a problem and Ray is such a gentle person. I thought that letter was just really wrong. I felt like it was really insulting to anyone who has a mental illness or is different in some way.”
Raymond said it took a while for the hurtful message to sink in.
“It didn’t worry me at first but then it started to play on my mind,” Raymond said. “I experienced bullying when I was younger but I kind of always tried to take the ‘sticks and stones may break my bones’ approach,” he said. “I just think people should be more tolerant and think about people’s feelings who have schizophrenia or bipolar or some other mental illness.”
His other housemate Daniel said what made it worse was it was dropped into the letterbox, so it’s someone who knows Raymond and where he lives.
“When I first read it I thought ‘That’s just sick’… who is low enough to do that?” Daniel said. “There is a minority that still has a real 1940s mindset about people with a mental illness – that they should just be locked away in an institution. To have that mentality in this day and age is just really pathetic… I feel quite sorry for them.”
Raymond thought perhaps they should attend a MISA meeting one day to try and understand what it’s like to have a mental illness.
“Then they could see how the other half lives and see that we’re not all that different to anyone else,” Raymond said. “They would see that people with a mental illness are still just normal people.”