Living With Illness Does Not Negate One’s Humanity

A facebook friend recently shared an article, which  categorizes mental illness as an attention getting scheme.

I should’ve taken this warning at its word.   
But I clicked through. And in 9 easy steps mental health symptoms were  dismissed and those with mental illness were demeaned. 

If you dont call someone back, it’s not because phones give you anxiety. It’s because you’re an inconsiderate asshole

Really? Are you in my head? Are you my therapist? Have you sat with me and witnessed me having to talk to myself at length before being able to order a pizza in the days before online ordering? Have you helped me write up a script before making calls for work? Have you coached me through breathing after hanging up the phone when I’m physically and emotionally exhausted at the effort that single phone call just took?

If you don’t show up to a friend’s birthday party, it’s not because you are bad in social situations. It’s because you’re an inconsiderate asshole.

Really? It couldn’t be because I’d planned to attend, but all my spoons are used up by unexpected happenings at work or at home? It couldn’t be because I made it to the car and even started driving over, but then had to pull over because eleventy billion “what if” scenarios are playing in my mind and I can’t breathe?

Every time someone writes a powerful essay on whatever website about their struggle with upper-middle-class anxiety, you share it…you’re constantly reminding people that you are sick and brave and in a permanent struggle against the world.

You mean as opposed to sharing listicles like this one that shame those living that struggle? Perhaps it’s about destigmatizing a type of illness that is prevalent, but too often ignored and untreated. Perhaps it’s about saying, “Hey, if you feel like this you’re not alone and there are solutions” especially if the only solution some people can see is ending the struggle.

You list it in your bios.

While I don’t list all my diagnoses (physical or mental) in my bios I don’t begrudge those who do. Surviving depression is no less a badge of honor than surviving cancer. There is no way to include every aspect of yourself in a short bio, whether short is 140 characters or 140 pages. If someone is advocating for awareness, research, de stigmatization, or access to treatment for a certain illness then yes it makes sense to include their own diagnosis in their bio.

 One day, depression means you can’t get out of bed or tie your shoes or pay bills. The next, it means you want to stay home and watch movies. The next, it’s not that serious. Your definitions change all the time, depending on context and how “sick” you really want to look.

Nope. The definition of my illness doesn’t change, but its impact does. I have chronic migraines. That doesn’t mean I spend 24/7 in a dark room with an ice pack on my head and a heating pad on my neck. I do spend some days like that, but other days I pop some meds and power through. Some days I’m pain free and rejoice in it. Why is it so hard to believe the same is true of mental illness? And yes sometimes that means binge watching Netflix or reading trashy novels or really anything to distract my brain from whatever I’m perserverating on.

It should also be noted that sometimes it’s the very thing that’s supposed to help that is actually to blame for these low periods. Just changed meds or altered doses? Sorry I can’t kick it for a couple weeks. Just switched therapists or had a particularly heavy session? I’m calling out from work tomorrow and canceling dinner plans. You’ll have to deal with it.

Unless something really fun is coming up and you manage to get it together

Um, nope. See above. Sometimes I miss out on really great things and sometimes I can medicate well enough and plan well enough I can partake in the fun. But that planning mean I need to take it easy on days before and after, which inevitably means someone else is being told no, canceled on, or not called back.

If you think it’s still a “controversial” thing to announce to your Facebook friends that you struggle with bouts of anxiety, you’re either living under a rock or looking to be a martyr. It’s not controversial anymore. Everyone is open about their struggles with mental illness

No, actually everyone ISNT open about their mental here struggles. That’s why we’re so surprised when people die from depression or other mental illness via suicide. And yes it is still stigmatized, in part by lipsticks Luke this. Hell i was shamed by a boss, who was a social worker by education and experience, for taking anxiety medication. 

…don’t pretend like you’re being brave by saying you’re sad sometimes.

Talking about mental illness isnt about being seen as brave it’s about being real. And while we’re being real mental illness isn’t the same as being “sad sometimes”. People have feelings and and people get sad. What makes something a disorder is when it interferes in a person’s life. However, this listicle has decided that interference actually negates the illness and instead makes a person an attention seeking jerk.

Even though your relationships have clear patterns, you don’t accept that they might be your fault

Ok so in some cases that’s actually a symptom of the disease! (Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder). However, in other cases it’s a sign of overcoming the disease. See I spent way too much time blaming myself for EVERYTHING and it wasn’t until I got healthy (ok fine healthier) that I realized a lot of lost friendships were because of my illness. Not that those friends/significant others were malicious or awful people, but they couldn’t accept and handle my illness any better than I could and it resulted in severed ties. That’s not to say I’m always blameless, I’m not. However, being able to recognize the nuance is a major win. 

You constantly post baiting things so that people will ask what’s wrong. “It’s been a bad day. :(”

Or maybe it’s just been a bad day. Don’t want to know its been a bad day? Unfriend/unfollow. Sure vaguebooking is annoying, but it’s not reserved to those with mental illness and further some people enjoy a warning. My spouse for instance likes when he knows it’s been a bad day, then he knows to leave me alone til I’m ready to talk. I don’t need you to ask what’s wrong. In fact I probably don’t want to talk about it, but maybe post it for a few key friends who are in the know and get it without the need to further explain. Don’t think that’s a good use of my social media time? Again Unfriend/unfollow.

You’re not really trying to get better. Maybe you take medication. Maybe you’re in therapy. But when it comes to the behavior that you’re doing over and again, you’re not interested in doing the hard work that is required to overcome mentally ill behaviors. 

Ummm actually by definition going to therapy and taking meds is trying to get better. Is it instantaneous? Nope. In fact it gets worse before it gets better in most cases. It’s hard work and it comes with lots of side effects. Additionally there generally isn’t a “cure” symptoms will probably improve but never go away. And they may flare up again without warning. Meds that work for one person don’t for another and may even stop working for someone they previously helped. So while you sit over there judging the amount of effort others are putting in I’ll be over here as a newlywed with no sex drive. Gaining weight. And growing a beard. All while beating my soul to strangers repeatedly in order to find a therapist that’s a good fit. 

TL;DR: Alexis Caputo can bite me  listicles like this are not only ableist and hateful, they are actually harmful. They encourage people to question their illness to a point where instead of getting treatment they return to denial. And that leads to people dying. 

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