Jesse, thank you so much for your very kind and thoughtful reply to my comment. Yes, it is very nice to virtually “meet” in this way and the Mad in America website is definitely one of the friendliest online spaces I know! I agree with you that no one should have the power to say that someone else is “disabled”. In general, no one should believe that they have the right to label another person in some way. You say, “It seems to some that, if one *feels* disabled, then they are.” I don’t personally think that people with various problems are quick to label themselves as “disabled”. I would rather say that many people are quick to embrace various psychiatric labels and often seem to find them somehow reassuring. Jesse, you say: “What if you and I could get the help and support we need without having to be referred to as disabled?” Yes, of course people should be able to get the help and support they need without having to refer to themselves as “disabled”. However, I don’t feel that I am forced to accept the label “disabled” in order to have a chance to get financial assistance etc. in my country. Let me explain my attitude more clearly. I am genuinely forced to use the “schizophrenia” label in order to try to get a disability payment, though I reject this label. But I have no problem with the term “disabled”. I don’t find it negative, painful or stigmatizing, unlike the “schizophrenia” label. I think that labels like “mentally ill” or “schizophrenic” are far more stigmatizing than “disabled”. As we both know, many people fear the “mentally ill” and find them repulsive, believe that they should be forcibly treated etc. You say that the label “disabled” can “lead many people down the very dangerous road of taking dangerous psychiatric drugs”. However, people start taking or being forced to take these dangerous psychiatric drugs when they get a psychiatric label – not when they are labelled as “disabled”. No psychiatrist has ever told me: “you are disabled”. And if a psychiatrist had used this label, it would have made me feel much better than the labels “schizophrenia” and “mental illness”. Of course in a sense everyone can say: “there are things I can’t do or don’t have, there are things I can’t achieve” etc. But I am not talking simply about individual limitations and frustrations… As I have been trying to explain, I know that my development has been strikingly different from the one of most people. Even today I find it difficult to talk about it because I know that most people take certain things for granted… To take just a few examples, for long periods in my life I was used to not having any friends, not even one. I have never assumed that I would find a partner as an adult. I did not have boyfriends. I found my only real relationship only in my late 30s, after some very painful experiences. Some men clearly assumed that I was desperate or that there was something wrong with me – in fact, in some cases I was ready to give plenty of love and attention while expecting very little from the other person. As I said earlier, I was extremely isolated in my workplace. I am used to being rejected by other people for reasons I don’t really understand. I look at my life and I see how different it is from the life of most other women my age (I am now 41). I have only one friend and I feel very lucky because we will probably never stop talking to each other. I can openly talk to him literally about everything. I can’t openly talk to most people about my life because there are things I have to hide (like my psychotic episode) and because I don’t want to be pitied. I don’t want anyone to pity me because I don’t have a partner or a successful career. I am not saying that it all somehow makes me “disabled” in an objective sense. But I know what kind of difficulties I have encountered and I know how hard I have had to struggle to experience even very basic things (the first romantic kiss etc.). I know that I could think of myself as “autistic” (I do have some traits associated with autism), but this label does not really describe me. In fact, there are many autistic people who have never had such social difficulties. I once said in an online group for autistic women that I am wondering how they have been able to find their partners (the vast majority of them had male or female partners). No one responded and I guess that others were surprised by my question and did not know what to say… Let me make it clear that I don’t feel unhappy because of not having a partner – I am simply sometimes wondering why (as it seems) plenty of people did not find it difficult to find a partner or to make friends. You may have experienced similar (or different, but no less serious) difficulties yourself. I hope that even if your experiences were much more more painful than mine, you have also been able to fully accept yourself and your life. I do sometimes feel very bitter, especially when I think about people who did not really appreciate me, though I was truly doing my best (and maybe simply trying “too hard”!). But I accept these feelings of bitterness and I am glad that I no longer talk to these people… Jesse, all these things you say about me are so kind and heart-warming. If more people were like you, this world would be a much better place for everyone, not only those who feel “different”! Some people seem so cold and self-centered, but they somehow tend to think that they are “more normal” than those who find it easy to show warmth to others… This speaks volumes about the world we live in! Yes, I will keep doing my best, and I would add that my experiences have made me stronger, more resilient and happier! Yes, I am much happier now than I was in my 20s… I worry much less about what other people think about me and it is very liberating.