Mental illness and the stigma attached to it


I feel like going on a bit of rant. And it’s mainly about the stigma attached to Bipolar Disorder, along with other mental illnesses.

If you’re one of those people that instantly judges and discriminates against someone solely based on the fact that they’re diagnosed with a mental illness, then I would calmly request that you get your head out of your ass and do some research.
Now, I admit I may have originally thought of saying “fuck you” instead – but really, I am calm – mostly… maybe…

social-stigma

Danger!

You know what!? No, I’m not calm – I’m dangerous as hell. If you were here right now, I would probably be shoving heated, sharp metal rods into your eyeballs, skin you alive – along with countless other things to torture you; I would kill you slowly, eventually stopping your heart – then bring you back to life, and do it all over.

Not really.

Damn, that was almost some ..xxplosive hatred right there.
Maybe I was inspired by an episode of Stargate SG-1 and twisted it a bit. Ba’al’s gravity torture chamber, anyone? No? OK.

But seriously, I didn’t mean that. Maybe it was overkill – but it got your attention, didn’t it?
I was just leading up to this point…

  • A lot of people seem to think that everyone with a mental illness, especially bipolar disorder and/or schizophrenia are inherently dangerous. This in itself is not true.

I’d also like to point out that I’m actually a soft, caring, gentle, cute and innocent, real life teddy bear that likes to cuddle. 🙂

So who is dangerous?

There are plenty of people who are not mentally ill, who are dangerous – and have committed some of the worst, inhumane crimes known to man.

Anyone can be dangerous, depending on the circumstances. How people were brought up in life, and if they suffered from any type of trauma or abuse – plays a huge role in the building blocks for a dangerous personality. But I feel that the most dangerous type of person regardless of anything else, are the ones that have nothing to lose – because they’re not worried about consequences.

Mental illness itself does not make people dangerous.

  • “…the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses”
  • “The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is very small. . . only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill”
  • “People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime”
  • “People with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population”
  • The link between mental illness and violence is promoted by the entertainment and news media.
  • “Characters in prime time television portrayed as having a mental illness are depicted as the most dangerous of all demographic groups: 60 percent were shown to be involved in crime or violence”
  • “The vast majority of news stories on mental illness either focus on other negative characteristics related to people with the disorder (e.g., unpredictability and unsociability) or on medical treatments. Notably absent are positive stories that highlight recovery of many persons with even the most serious of mental illnesses”

— washington.edu Mental Health Reporting

“Mentally ill people are often wrongly portrayed as violent and that perpetuates the myths about all or the majority of patients being violent. In The Silence of the Lambs, for example, we have the portrayal of an unstable man who is extremely violent. In Psycho you have the sense of violence and the secret basement world, and generally odd people. There is also the danger and violence in Halloween where the man escapes from an asylum,” says Dr Van Velsen, who has produced the results of her research for World Mental Health Day, which takes place today.

Final Analysis with Richard Gere is another bad example, and so too is Copycat where the patient becomes obsessed with the forensic psychiatrist and tries to kill her.”

— independent.co.uk

I am not implying that mentally ill people cannot be dangerous. What I’m saying is that there’s just as much chance that someone who is not mentally will can be dangerous or violent. This is because I believe that simply having a mental illness does not implant the idea of violent acts into people. What implants those ideas or the feeling that it’s OK to be violent, is more about the upbringing; perhaps these people were abused, or had parents that were very strict and physical with them. It’s likely that something angered and/or hurt them in the past.

Again, this is just my opinion.

Now that we’ve hopefully got that out of the way. Let’s move on.

Crazy!

Just because someone has a mental illness, does mean that they’re crazy. People tend to react as if mostly anything they don’t understand, can’t relate to, and can’t imagine happening to themselves or in general – is crazy.

As cited above about the media promoting that mentally ill people are supposedly “dangerous” — the same applies for the media strongly influencing how people perceive us to be “crazy” as well. Movies and TV shows are especially guilty of doing this; they mock mental illness.

More reading:

Crazy, no. Different, to an extent.

People with mental illness are likely struggling every day, as I am. Sometimes the symptoms are overwhelming – to the point where we even consider suicide; they take a lot of energy to cope with, and often require medication – much like many physical illnesses.

With certain symptoms it’s nearly impossible for us not to act out differently.

But take this into consideration…
If you’re in extreme physical pain, it’s very difficult to hide it to the point where nobody would notice, isn’t it?
If your leg is broken, you probably wouldn’t be walking perfectly.
If you get frustrated over not being able to do the usual things that you want in life because of a physical issue, you might end up being bitter and act out because of it.

With mental illness, that same concept applies, to some extent.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that it’s exactly the same, because that would be foolish.
And there are certain issues that we have little – if any – control over, due to the fact that the problem is actually in our brain.

But I feel that we act differently because our brains are slightly broken – just like your leg.
We also get frustrated from prolonged, debilitating issues that may prevent us from having “normal” conversations, reacting well to change or certain/trigger situations, having difficulty completing goals, and so on.

My opinion about people who seem “crazy”

Please note: this is my opinion!

The people who have outbursts that would have them appear to be “crazy” – are mostly the people who have had traumatic experiences in their life, have put up a very tough fight for the whole life, and are probably at the point where they just don’t want to – or can’t – keep putting effort and energy required to (re)act in socially acceptable ways.
They’re trying to cope with their illness, past (trauma), possibly non-ideal living and/or financial situations, amongst countless other things that I can’t even pretend to know all of.

Basically, I believe they were far too hurt, became stressed beyond belief, and may have eventually given up on themselves.
I blame this partially on the stigma of mental illness itself, and how it affects us!
In all likelihood, they could benefit from therapy, emotional support, and major life changes – if they were willing to accept that help, and put the effort into making the changes that are necessary to improve as a person and become socially acceptable once again. But we also need to stop discriminating against people with mental illness, and support them instead.

We’re not that different…

We’re still people — people that are suffering. We didn’t ask for this, and it’s not our fault.
We’re suffering with something that people who haven’t experienced have a very difficult time understanding and accepting.
Most of you probably don’t put the effort into learning about what’s really going on with someone who’s mentally ill, so you just make assumptions. Hell, I won’t lie – even some people who are mentally ill themselves don’t put the effort into understanding their own situation.

So therefore…

Next time you see or talk to someone who is mentally ill, try to show (or at least try to feel) a little compassion – just as I hope you would when you see somebody in a wheelchair, rather than looking down upon them or worrying that they’re suddenly going to cut your head off.
I’m not saying you should go up to and embrace them, especially if you don’t know them – that would be crazy, and I would hope you wouldn’t do that to any strangers. 🙂

Maybe you’ll also be surprised how much you have in common with some people who are mentally ill.
And maybe – just maybe – you even know someone now who is mentally ill, and you aren’t aware of it!