An Open Letter To Those Linking Violence To Mental Illness

To Whom It May Concern, 

     In my experience with mental illness and psychosis, I was scared to death and paranoid of violent things happening to me and around me. Even at my worst I may have neglected to take care of myself but I would never lay a finger on anyone else. Please do not classify me with the other side that needs to see and thrives off of causing violence. There is a huge difference.

     There needs to be a way of distinguishing this in the diagnoses. Or maybe you need to stop grouping us together in your interviews with “professionals.” About 40 million of us do not even know what you are talking about when you say that people with mental illness are more likely to commit a crime. The correct way of stating this would be to say that people who commit violent crimes may have a mental illness, when in reality, people with mental illness are far more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the perpetrator. Having mental illness does not equal being a criminal. In fact, for most of us with depression or anxiety as symptoms it is the complete opposite. I cannot even stand watching war video games or violent movies. I do not associate with evil so do not associate it with me.

      It really hurts every time I hear people say "we need to do something about mental health" and they mean everyone with a mental illness should be contained or something. I agree, we have to do something about mental health and that is to be honest. Most of those who judge would never even admit if their close family member had a mental illness for fear of being shamed.

     We must stop dancing around the topic and face it head on. Those of us who live with mental illness can't keep being sad for the rest of the world. We must stop using the terms "bipolar," "OCD," "psycho," or "mental" to criticize those individuals we do not like. These words are not meant to be used as adjectives.

     We need to get better funding, better medication research, educate primary care doctors about mental illness, natural and holistic healing, update all mental hospitals, full coverage insurance, enough disability money to live... And as a society we need to stop judging and ranking everyone and everything.

     Regardless of illness, we are all original. We are all beautiful. Until this is realized by everyone we are just going to keep going back and forth calling each other crazy, and that is pretty immature if you ask me. I will not participate in name calling, blaming, judging, ranking, or hating. I ask that you please join me. Thank you for your time and understanding. 


                                                                                                                     Joseph S. Fusaro


About the author:  Joseph S. Fusaro is 32 years old and grew up in Valhalla NY. Joe has also lived in Tucson Arizona and Los Angeles California. He has been writing music and poetry since he was 14 and credits it with helping dig his way out of a serious bout with anxiety, depression, and bipolar 1 in his late teens and 20's. Joe uses his experience with mental illness to help others realize there is hope for a positive and productive future. Joe published his first book, a chap book featuring poetry and lyrics he's written, called A Little More Time and it's available for purchase on A portion of the proceeds from the book are donated to This Is My Brave.