I hate Kanye, He’s Awesome

I have to jump on this bandwagon because I’m hearing a lot of opinions in the mental health social media community (that’s a thing now. Dear Lord.) about Kanye’s recent interview with David Letterman. The interview is on Netflix.

They talked about a few things. Clothes, art, and Kanye’s “church”. I don’t–I won’t comment on whatever all that is about.

Whatever.

When they first get into the mental health stuff, Letterman attempts to sum up Kanye’s bipolar diagnosis in an “easy” and “simple” way. He states “the synapses get fatigued and say ‘we’re not carrying this message anymore'”. I won’t ding Letterman for this, nor Kanye for agreeing with it because neither of them have probably ever read a neurology or psychology textbook in their life. But to make it clear, synapses aren’t getting fatigued. If we could tell you what was happening in any mental health condition, they wouldn’t exist anymore.

Kanye gets to a point where he needs to get something off of his chest. He says there’s a moment he experienced in his treatment that needs to be changed and if any of you have read even just one of my many posts, you’ll know that I smiled largely as I guessed what that experience was.

He explains that in the moment of one of his episodes, he feels hyper paranoid about everything, that everyone is an actor, everything is a conspiracy. I’d say that’s pretty similar to what many of us feel. He says, “you feel everyone wants to kill you and they handcuff you and drug you and put you in the bed and they separate you from everyone you know. Something I’m so happy I experienced myself so I can start by changing that moment.”

He’s talking about forced/coercive treatment, but also about the general vibe when you’re hospitalized. The last time I was taken against my will, no family was allowed to visit me until I was transferred to a different hospital an hour away where no one could come visit me anyway. While in the crisis unit, I continuously called my mother asking what the hospital staff were telling her, because they wouldn’t be honest with me and I didn’t trust anyone. I couldn’t. People were possessed and impostors and unreal and I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t feel that also extended to their family.

Kanye very openly, and rightfully so, regards this as “cruel and primitive” and I agree to an extent. Is it smart to have all ten family members crammed in the hospital with you while you’re crippled by voices and dread? Probably not. But if, for whatever reason, you have just one person you can even remotely trust for two halves of a second, blocking that contact with the outside world only pushes you further in your head. As Kanye said: “This is like a sprained brain, like having a sprained ankle. And if someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not going to push on him more.”

Then, the big controversy comes: the meds.

I figured his opinion wouldn’t be very popular.

He said he has been medication free for eight months. Some of the crowd claps. I would have. Wouldn’t you clap for your friend or parent who was able to come off their blood pressure medication? Do they run the risk of raising it with bad eating habits and lack of exercise just as Kanye runs the risk of being carried away by mania while refusing to take care of his mental health in other ways? Can’t your friend’s blood pressure rise again for no clear reason, just as Kanye’s mania can come unprovoked? Doesn’t your friend run the risk of death just as Kanye theoretically would were he to dip into a serious low? If everyone in the world wants to compare mental health to physical health, then compare it that way too.

But, Kanye is very clear he’s not advocating for everyone to go off their meds. How have people missed this? I have the quote right here, verbatim: “When we clap at the idea of not being on medication–my form of mental health I think is like the luxury version of it. There’s people who can’t function without medication. So I’m not advocating–I’m telling you MY specific story.”

It’s the same thing I tell others. All. The. Time. Yes, I’ve gone off and on meds. Yes, there were times the meds were extremely necessary. And there were times they were a detriment. And for ME, my PERSONAL DECISION was that I have always felt better off medication than on. And I needed to choose: be compliant with meds 100% or leave them alone 100%. It was the on again off again that was torturous.

So even with Kanye stating specifically his personal experience, we think we have the right to tell him what’s better for his body, basically stigmatizing our own. I’ve never once told a mental health peer to go off their meds. But I’ve been told thousands of times by peers to go back on meds. That’s like a religious fanatic: don’t tell me about your atheist or Muslim or Jewish views, but let me tell you about the love of Jesus Christ and why you should accept him into your heart because that’s what’s best for you, that’s what will save your soul.

It’s hard to feel accepted with a mental health diagnosis. It’s even harder when your own people are against you.

Letterman then goes on to explain his own experience with medication and the advances in medication targeting specific areas of the brain (which is just misinformation) and says that medication is what helped him see clearer. Kanye, at some point, reflects that it’s great for him that he found a medication with the least amount of side effects that works for him. That’s the only way to respond. That’s the way I often respond.

My point? Why does Letterman get praise for pushing the efficacy of medication he has proven he doesn’t understand the chemistry of, and Kanye get flack for choosing to go through his mental health journey in a different way? Because medication works for you? Because it’s saved your life and you want to save him too? What if he doesn’t need saving?

This ties into so many topics. Coercion, publication bias, and this idea that we know what’s best, that we have the right to force help on someone.

This isn’t a man in a coma who would never want to sign a DNR. This is a man who is conscious, albeit not in your reality. And that makes you uncomfortable–maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’ve seen how families can fall apart. Whatever it is. But the point is we must eradicate your discomfort by subduing his experience.

This is coming from someone who recognizes this need to help is innate and out of good intention.

This is also coming from someone who recognizes and has experienced the terror and pain that we go through. This is coming from someone who knows first hand that sitting in two week old dirty clothes, ratty hair, no food while listening and believing voices telling me I’m going to die soon, that I won’t be on this earth anymore, fucking sucks. This is coming from someone who absolutely appreciated the moment medication helped bring me from that. This is also coming from someone who recognizes medication isn’t always a life sentence.

This is coming from someone who understands that you can’t talk to your high blood pressure, but you can talk to your voices. I’d say that’s a pretty big wedge in the whole “mental health should be treated like physical health” argument.

But talking–that’s rarely encouraged in traditional psychiatry. A shame. A lot can come from it.

My point? Don’t stigmatize each other. Don’t act like we as a species have all the answers in the world. Don’t act like anyone really understands the mechanisms of any medication. And don’t thwart someone’s individuality because it clashes with your beliefs.

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.