Tag Archives: mental health awareness month

What’s Wrong With Dr. Phil’s Wife’s Face? Seriously. Someone Tell Me.

So, I should probably be working towards my final for this online class and my other articles, but you all know me and my spontaneous writing sessions. It’s like my gaming sessions: I’ll game for a week or two or three, every day for hours until both of my hands shrivel and turn black and my finger tips fall off, then I won’t game for a few months.

May is “mental health awareness” month or whatever, yada yada. If you all want my opinion on this, you can refer to this post particularly, because I’m sick of reiterating the same thing every year.

But, this post will probably seem fitting for that cult-mindset (Ooh, bringin’ out the big guns now), because it’s about another person who claims to be a mental health advocate herself. Well, it’s not really about her, but more so about what was said to her, that I don’t necessarily agree with. And you know when I don’t agree with something, I have to put it out there on the internet for a bunch of people to not agree with me. That’s the way of the world, right?

I am not a Dr. Phil fan. I think the show is highly dramatized, and although subjects are approached with caution, I feel we’re pressured to believe that this Phil dude (who isn’t really a psychologist, did you know that?) helps people in a way no other person could. His wife’s face scares the fuck out of me (Sorry), and these people’s lives are almost exploited on television. I don’t really know how that makes mental health issues look, particularly if he advocates things like “bipolar disease“.

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Is This Meme Still Relevant?

You all remember the girl who was on there who believed she was pregnant with Jesus or whatever and claimed she’d been diagnosed with “paranoid schizophrenia” and her parents argued and said she “hadn’t been” . . . what was that episode even? Jesus Christ. Personally, I liked the man who said he wrote one of Taylor Swifts’ songs. I think Taylor should just give him the rights, because she’s only embarrassing herself by admitting she writes that shit she sings.

Anyway, A few weeks ago I guess this woman, Emily, who says she is a mental health advocate and posts pictures of herself online with her multitudes of self-harm scars, was also on Dr. Phil. She says that she shouldn’t have to be ashamed of her scars and she should be free to wear the shorts and short-sleeves that she does without feeling shameful for it.

As a self-harmer (although, I haven’t struggled with it in a while, since October 2016) I agree with her. Would I go around posting every scar and cut, old and new, online: no. That’s my personal preference not to do that. Whether she does or not, whatever. People who say she’s influencing people to cut themselves–I don’t understand that. If those people who see her are choosing to self harm, they are dealing with far deeper issues than just watching her on social media. Trust.

She said she continued to struggle with the self-harm, PTSD, and the accompanying anxiety and depression that comes with PTSD, and Phil asked why she thought she could call herself an advocate if she struggled so much.

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Well, that was the first thing he said that made zero sense and proves he has very little personal experience with mental health struggles. You can easily be an advocate and have moments of struggle within yourself. You don’t have to be “perfect” or “cured” to be an advocate, to be understanding and compassionate for others. In fact, if you think you’re “perfect” or “cured”, you must be one strange advocate, because no one is perfect and you can’t cure or rid yourself of your humanity so . . . that’s some fake bullshit. If you think you have to have never struggled at all to be an advocate, than you’re really fucking stupid.

In the same clip, they were speaking about the influence she may or may not have on people. The woman says she gets many people who message her and tell her that her confidence with her online persona has helped them see a counselor, talk more about their struggles, e.t.c, you know the deal. Phil responds with this exact quote:

“But you understand, my point of view is, mental illness of any form is nothing to be ashamed of, but neither is it something to celebrate”.

Well fuck me, let me sit in a hole of pity over my “illness” and be afraid to be proud of who I am, how I am, how I act, and my quirks. Fucking God FORBID we embrace this portion of our HUMANITY. Oh, the HORROR.

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In my very experienced opinion, it is something to celebrate.

In his very professional opinion, these “illnesses” are proven biochemical and neurological, well, defects. You wouldn’t celebrate someone’s terminal illness, right? Than let’s certainly not celebrate the diversity of the human mind and the human condition. That would be horrific.

It’s something to celebrate to me because it shows there are multitudes of ways to experience this reality. It shows people deal with pain and life in different ways. It shows that the human mind is much more complex and real and human than we will ever know. That, to me, is fascinating, and worthy of celebration.

And just because we can celebrate it, doesn’t mean that’s invalidating the struggle. If anything, it helps prove that struggles can make you stronger.

Does that mean I agree with this woman, this Emily? No. I don’t disagree with her either. If she feels free and content with herself by posting these things, fine. I wouldn’t do it, but I’m not her.

If you want something to talk about for #MayMentalHealthCultMindsetMonth, why not talk about the diversity of how our brains react to this life we live? Because that’s essentially what’s happening: life is a traumatic experience in itself and we all have different ways of dealing with that. If you want to believe that makes you defective, be my guest. Seems kind of self-defeating if you ask me.

I think I’ll go put on a party hat and grab some Whiskey Sours for Thoth and I.

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Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness month.

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I believe there are also weeks out of the year dedicated to such a thing, am I right? Well, you all know I’ve got to put my two cents in on the subject because my mouth is huge.

This is when all of us suddenly get a burst of confidence and we blog about it, we “Tweet” about it, we “Facebook” about it, we Instagram pictures of our medications with “#noshame” and we take group pictures with NAMI shirts and celebrate our uniqueness and remind the world who we are, what we stand for, and what we have to go through each day.

Come June, about 80% of us die off.

I’ve said it once on this blog and I’ll say it again: as someone who has struggled with mental issues for the majority of my life I’m a little offended that people think a hashtag, a brief campaign, or a picture is enough to represent a daily fight. 

I am all for spreading awareness and understanding. I am not for spreading awareness and understanding one month out of the year. I’m not for spreading it one week out of the year or a day out of the year.

socialbranding-534x280Social media is a powerful force. It can spread love or hatred, happiness or despair, anger or calmness. It is also a host of one-hit post wonders.

Awareness of mental health and mental disorders has absolutely nothing to do with your pretty hair, your make-up, and your Ativan prescription while you sit in your car with your cell phone camera angled slightly so the sunlight bounces off your skin and makes you look inhumanely radiant.

I agree you shouldn’t be ashamed if you have to or feel that you have to take medication to help manage your symptoms. I agree you have a right to prove to everyone that you’re not ashamed. I do not agree that a picture and a caption is the only way you can make people aware of mental disorders. I do not agree that a post on Facebook that’s heartfelt, gets you a lot of likes, and makes people think “wow, he’s such a caring individual, I’m so sorry for his struggles” is the only way to make people aware of mental disorders.

Because people in the every day world don’t stigmatize those of us who are perceived as “well”, they don’t stigmatize those of us who are supporting ourselves, going to school, and “overcoming” our “problems”. Because it’s not always obvious with those of us who are able to manage our symptoms that we even struggle.

rob-tinfoil-hat-compressedThey stigmatize those of us wandering around on the street muttering under our breath about the CIA tracking them with the chip planted underneath their skin right next to their temple. They stigmatize those of us who can’t get out of bed for months regardless of treatment, who gulp down forty Xanax or slash vertically down both wrists. Those of us who fall into a pit of immeasurable despair after, just recently, thinking we had come up with an algorithm for the cure for cancer by linking words in newspaper clippings and spending all day and all night putting it all together and emailing university departments for their help.

Because when you post a picture of you and your medication with a caption of smiling emoji and a hashtag “#noshame”,  you’re making everyone aware of what they’re most comfortable seeing: people succeeding over great adversity.

The problem is, those people don’t know about he adversity you went through to get there.

So it’s all good and well to post positivity. It’s all good and well to boost your confidence and show how proud you are of your accomplishments: by all means, continue to do so.

But do me a favor, do yourself a favor, and do all your brothers and sisters in the mental health community a favor by not forgetting where you came from and what you went through to be where you are. Don’t forget about those of us on the street, those of us locked up in jail, those of us battling addictions to combat the untreated depression, the mood swings, the psychosis, the voices. 

Don’t just show, educate.

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Help people understand the difference between “feeling anxious” and having an anxiety disorder.

Help people understand the difference between being “totally paranoid about that creepy neighbor guy, like, O.M.G” and experiencing paranoia.

Help people understand the difference between laziness and depression.

Help people understand the difference between being ridiculously tidy and having an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Help people understand the difference between “being moody” and bipolar disorder (for God’s sake, educate some doctors on it while you’re at it). 

The reality of the matter is, although we all span the globe and the majority of us have never met each other, we’re all a family. We’re not a family united against the “normies” or the “neurotypicals”, we’re a family united in our struggle.

The first thing I was told at my new job ( Yes, I’m officially a team member at this place as of today) told me was “we’re a family here”.

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And that was the only line I was waiting to here. It’s not something you’ll hear with sincerity when walking into a mental institution. It’s not something you’ll hear with sincerity when walking into a state rehabilitation clinic. But it’s something you should hear with sincerity.

With only six available beds, and the program being run by staff all with mental health struggles, I knew this was a place that focused on the health of the people, not how fast they could get them in and get them out, not how fast they could find a medication combination for them. It’s about giving them the skills they need to live a productive life.

This place is small. It’s also few and far between.

I am a mental health advocate; always have been, always will be, every day, all day. If you really care to know, “label wise”, I struggle with GAD, Social anxiety disorder, Major depression, Dissociation (fugue states, e.t.c.) and, more officially than I’ve let anyone know on this website for personal reasons, schizotypal personality disorder.

But no matter how successful I become (or unsuccessful), I won’t forget about those of us who don’t yet have the support, the ability or skill-set to pull themselves out of whatever hole they are in.

That’s what awareness is about. It’s not about your #noshame pictures with your fucking medication, I’m so sorry to say. In fact, it’s not about you at all. It’s about all of us, all of our struggles, and the truth of them. Not the nice side of it. Not the media’s view on it.

And it’s certainly not something that can be done in a month with nicely printed shirts. Sorry you wasted $25.99.  

So, if you want to make use of this short, 31 day month dedicated to mental health, go out and educate someone. Help someone. Offer your support, your understanding.

You want to “break the silence, break the stigma”? Try doing it a little more often than one month out of the year.