Truths

Moving Forward Together

sit-down-shut-up-and-listen-meme-14582

Let me outline this very clearly, because it seems people who are outsiders, people who don’t struggle with their mental health on a daily basis, still don’t get what we mean when we say we need your “help”.

By help, we mean “support”.

By “support” we don’t always mean “advice.”

In fact, very rarely do we mean advice.

If you feel like you can’t “help” us, that’s because you can’t and that’s because you don’t need to. It’s not your responsibility, as someone on the outside, to cure us of our depression, our anxiety, our voices, our paranoia, our thoughts about suicide, or our self harming tendencies. That’s not a burden for you to carry.

If someone in a wheelchair is pushing themselves down the sidewalk just fine, not asking for you to push for them, would you just walk up and start pushing them? No. The same applies here.

3740df239005007563e2530671cf1e58We’re looking for someone willing to walk with us through the fire of the moment, not someone to toss water on the fire with good intention, not caring to pay attention to the fact that the fire is a grease fire, and then storm off offended they couldn’t put the flame out.

Say you were working in construction and you measured a beam wrong so that when you tried to put together the side of a house, the boards toppled on you. Your right leg is being crushed, along with one of your hands and your chest. You’re struggling to breathe, the world is turning black, and off in the distance you see a possible savior. You use your last bit of energy to wave them over and they come running, chest puffed out. When you tell them what happened, they look at your measurements and say “well, you should be more careful when you measure next time so this won’t happen”.

And then they walk away like this . . .

proud-face

. . . feeling like they’ve completed their good deed for the day.

Then they get offended you didn’t say thank you to them when they come visit you in the hospital.

That’s what it feels like to us when the people we confide in get frustrated that we’re not responding to them the way they want us to when we’re already struggling to hold our head above water. It creates this feeling of isolation on both parties. You feel like you’ve failed someone you care about, we feel like we can’t ever express ourselves without getting turned away or bombarded with things we don’t need to hear.

This is a gap in a bridge that needs to be sealed.

This is where understanding comes in. Giving people pamphlets about the “symptoms” of “mental disorders” is “education” I guess . . . although not very effective, and your #stopstigma tags on twitter are amazingly popular for about five internet seconds, but if people on the “outside” aren’t around us, if they can’t see that we’re just the same as them, if they can’t see us in our best and our worse, and if they can’t come to us and talk with us and dip their toe in the fire for just a split second, then they don’t truly understand what support is. And you can’t #stopstigma without people having a clear understanding about what’s being stigmatized.

dreamstime_xl_52335624And it’s not about us tossing all our problems on someone with no problem, because at that point we’re using them as a scale to measure how “fucked up” we are, we’re using them as a landfill to throw all our trash, rather than a human being to relate to. And that doesn’t make anyone feel good.

It’s about mutuality in the relationship. If they feel you are burdening them by constantly venting without ever letting them a chance to speak or a chance to attempt at making a connection or a chance to express their grievances as well, they should be allowed to tell you that (politely) and you shouldn’t be offended. You shouldn’t turn them away and say “I’m crazy, that’s probably why they don’t care about me”, because what you’re doing is invalidating how they feel, and how they feel is pertinent to the relationship. If they didn’t care about you, they wouldn’t have spoken up.

In the same way, if you feel you aren’t being heard, if you feel something isn’t right, you have the responsibility and right to speak up and tell them so (politely) and if they get offended and take it as “this person is just selfish” than they’re invalidating your feelings, and how you feel is pertinent to the relationship.

Do we all see how this works now?

58800854

We don’t need to reform “mental health” necessarily. We need to reform how we interact with people who experience things differently. Categories, diagnosis, medication, none of that is the fucking issue. The issue is what we perceive as a result of categories, diagnosis, and medication. Let’s face it folks, that stuff makes money, it’s not going anywhere. So lets use it to our advantage rather than our disadvantage.

And that issue of perception doesn’t ONLY fall on the shoulders of people who DON’T struggle with their mental health. It’s our responsibility as the strugglees (not a word, don’t quote me) to be honest about the struggle and to be honest when we feel someone has stepped across a line. Don’t take it as a slap across the face because “you’re crazy” and therefore don’t have a right to speak up.

And if all else fails, if mutuality never develops–because, let’s face it, not everyone is meant to be in your life–if things can’t be worked through, separate from each other in the most respectful way possible so as to preserve their feelings and your feelings. Just because someone disagrees with you or you with them doesn’t mean you have to part ways by hurting each other.

That hurt only carries on into the next mutual friendship/relationship, and the last thing we need is a chain reaction.

chain-reaction-4d88f1a51c160_hires

Inspiration from this post came from a struggle in my own personal life just recently and by being honest, without getting into an argument, without screaming, without cursing each other, we managed to come to a conclusion that we both care for each other and want to move forward together.

I only have Intentional Peer Support to thank for this. With my inability to understand how to interact with humans in general, being there for that week laid it out to me logically in a way I could attempt to understand and duplicate. I may be a little robotic about it still, but I’m learning.

I was wondering where all my anger went. . . and thinking back on it, it really calmed down after being surrounded by everyone that one week in may. It’s amazing what taking the time and thinking about how other people feel, and how you react to their feelings, can do.

courage-is-what-it-takes-to-stand-up-and-speak

About AlishiaDee (372 Articles)
Alishia D. is a blogger, a beginning novelist, and a counselor at 2nd Story Peer Respite house where diagnostic labels and the culture of mental health is long forgotten. She's a mental health peer who has bounced through as many labels as she has doctors, and enjoys being sarcastic when she can. She also hates writing in 3rd person.

12 Comments on Moving Forward Together

  1. Again, another great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Disagree with this statement: We don’t need to reform “mental health” necessarily.” Tom Cruises’ rant about psychiatry looks truer, each time I go to the doctor. If it wasn’t for Battlefield Earth being the first book that I didn’t bother to finish, I might consider Scientology, as the better choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel if we first focus on reforming the perceptions around mental health and experiences, the system itself won’t need to be “taken over” and people “retrained”; instead, there will be people already in the system with a reformed mindset and it will gradually change the way things are thought and handled. That being said, I never knew Tom Cruise ranted on psychiatry, that sounds like something I may both agree with and laugh at, for some reason Tom Cruise evokes that kind of response from me lol.

      Like

      • Scientology’s anti-psychiatry, soy you might not want to mention tour career path if you meet Tom Cruise, even though the interview was about ten years ago. Most of my doctor stories are horror stories, it isn’t just psychiatry. I knew I had a blood clot, but the ER doctor gave me antibiotics for a skin infection. So I had to wait for an appointment to get another doctor , who recognized the untrained patient was right and the doctor was wrong. Repeat from a psychiatric standpoint because it is all the same level of incompetence and insanity. I could go on and on

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thats one dumb fucking ER doctor. Sounds like he didnt know his head from his ass. the same thing has happened to both me and my father at the local ER here and the rest of the hospital; most people I know in my town haaaate this hospital with a passion, the majority of the doctors are incompetent and the nurses are careless. and the county doctors when you have medi-cal are even worse. The hospital once gave my father ativan which he has reactions to, after I told them for the third time DON’T give him ativan, and when they did he was seeing things rolling on the floor laughing and decided to walk out the hospital. We get there hoping the drugs wore off and not knowing that he walked out, and we ask the nurses and doctors where is he….they’re like we don’t know, he left. And we’re like but….he didn’t check out and he wasn’t competent enough to sign papers. and they shrugged. We found him at two in the morning at the county jail in a hospital uniform, still manic.
        BTW, it took me three more times to tell them NO ATIVAN before they finally labeled him “allergic”
        So there are dumb people in this world, and of course somehow those dumb people become doctors and nurse a for whatever reason.
        Fortunately, that’s not indicative of every doctor everywhere.
        I got by anti-psychiatry stance from the book “brain disabling treatments in psychiatry”. The newest edition is from 2004 but it was still good when I read it in 2009 lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Do you believe any action was created to make sure my incident or your father’s will happen again. The problem with psychiatry is they can hand out pills and tell you it will take time for relief, but time may be what heals the wound, not the drugs. I solved my blood clot problem by getting a second opinion, but the mental health issue is a neverending series of horrible experience at the doctor with apparently no hope, in sight. I can’t tell who’s evil and who’s just incompetent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • From the way they talked to us, it didn’t sound like it at all. Sounded like they just said “whatever, let him go, we don’t have time for this”. And agreed, psychiatry is a business, a lot of those not in private practice who let themselves be a puppet to insurance and pharma companies have lost touch with the human side of things. There’s one psychiatrist with a private practice here in my town and she’s crazy. I’ve managed to avoid her and find a more holistic one. It’s hard to tell who is genuine and who isn’t, it’s like rolling dice and hoping you get the number you need. I just approach them with the “i don’t trust you, show me I can” attitude. And if they can’t, I leave. lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • People like us need time to get comfortable with people and jumping from doctor to doctor is stressful. If a new doctor tells me whether he has browsed my case file or he wants to make a fresh diagnosis, it would help me understand where to begin. If doctors better communicated their methodology it would help. I’m to the point of requesting a monkey doctor, the monkey would be more entertaining and couldn’t do much worse. My last doctor managed to find a drug combo known for causing seizures, but I read the interaction sheet. A computer program should have kept that combination from being prescribed.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “We’re looking for someone willing to walk with us through the fire of the moment, not someone to toss water on the fire with good intention, not caring to pay attention to the fact that the fire is a grease fire, and then storm off offended they couldn’t put the flame out.”
    So well put. I often felt and still feel that I am the one pushing people away all the time. They come, they try to break through the ‘wall’ to help and just go away disappointed that they tried hard to help but I didn’t just try harder because I was complacent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here, I know exactly how you feel, and there ends up being this rift between you and them and it sucks. And I think sometimes all of us forget that the relationships we have with people that are rocky whether it’s over our mental health or not are still built on honesty, even if that honesty includes someone saying “I don’t appreciate how you’re treating me” for whatever reason. Anyway, it’s 5 a.m, I feel like I’m going to accidentally answer you with a rant rather than a response lol and I don’t want to do that. But thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s