Monday, 30 May 2011

Have You Ever Called Someone Crazy?

I have chosen Eminem's "Beautiful" just for the lyrics.    
 In the spirit of Mental Health week (which was last week) I thought I’d write about the stigma surrounding mental disorders, as I’ve had many conversations with friends this week about this and it hits close to home. There have been some beliefs that mental illness is a choice rather than an inherent condition, which is a load of crap. This belief leads to many people trying to deal with their illness alone as they feel ashamed and like failures because they can't get out of their slump. While there is a definite personal responsibility in choosing to better your life and receive treatment after you've recognized the issue (i.e. counseling, medication), one does not choose this type of life. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 18 and I certainly did not choose that. First of all, being labeled with some sort of medical term is a personal challenge in itself to accept, as you are suddenly stuffed into a box, shaken around and dumped out as a bunch of symptoms and behaviours. I don’t want to be stuffed into a box!!! I’m claustrophobic!!!! Pft. Any sort of personality traits, feelings, reactions, or situations you go through is said to be the disorders problem and that makes you feel like you’ve lost all individuality in this world. It’s actually quite frustrating and is why many people don’t like to get diagnosed at all (for any sort of mental illness) because they then become a label. Nowadays as well, labels and medication are being thrown at people who go into the doctor’s office with a few symptoms, before even getting a proper assessment. My friend was telling me the other day that her physician prescribed her an anti-depressant because she came in crying one day. That’s pretty scary. And regarding ADD and ADHD, children are taking Adderall, Biphentin or Ritalin like they are freaking vitamins. Maybe they are not focusing or are hyper because they are five years old and have energy and don’t understand what the hell you are saying and get bored?! How about that? Or maybe all those drugs are causing mental disorders because their brain chemistry is being altered and their brain cells are being destroyed due to the misdiagnosis!
   Nevertheless, anxiety and bouts of depression have been prevalent in my life for quite some time (which comes with ADHD), and several family members have suffered through varying forms of mental illness. I flip flopped on my acceptance of the disorder as I didn't want to believe that I was somewhat defective or seen as crazy or even stupid. I didn't want people to go aww or see me as some kind of case. I chose to discuss this topic because there are so many marred perceptions within our society regarding mental disorders. Images of people with straight jackets in psychiatric wards surrounded by padded walls or people that talk to themselves have been popular within movies, or television when they are trying to portray a mentally ill patient. This obviously does happen, but it isn’t all of what mental illness is about.  Most people probably don’t even know that they are sitting next to someone at work who suffers from addictions, depression, manic-depression, anxiety, OCD, or maybe even Schizophrenia.  Although more and more people are opening up about their struggles (even celebrities), there is still a fair bit of judgment and lack of compassion that keeps people from sharing their experiences. The society we live in makes it hard to be different in ANY sort of way, whether you are of a different race, have a physical disability, or want to sing songs that aren’t within social ideals, so living with a condition that may not be seen as “normal” in societal standards is seen as being weak, shameful and embarrassing for some.  I mean, who wants to be judged by anyone or be perceived as “crazy” by numerous people??  This angers me as who gives anyone the right to judge another when they haven’t lived in their shoes? I have been very fortunate to have many supportive people around me that I can talk too, and my experiences in life have enabled me to become a shoulder to lean on for people who have not been so lucky. I have friends come to me professing their relief and happiness that they have found someone to open up to about their struggles. They have stated they feel like they are alone with this disorder or are misunderstood. That saddens me as no one should feel the need to hide such a major part of themselves, or feel alienated or ashamed. This goes for any situation in life really, from people that are being abused to people who have three nipples – no one should have to defend who they are and what they are going through. It’s the hiding and trying to deal with illness alone that creates the larger issues in life and can worsen the condition you have.
    So with all this said, let’s get rid of the stigma people! There is just no need for it.  We will all have to deal with shit in our lives, and mental illness is just someone’s shit.  What's needed is more compassion and more education to change around the perceptions. This is just my opinion though :)
Hope everyone has a great weekend :) xo

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully written!

    It's hard to live with a diagnosis, especially when it's one in which many people think you should just grow up or get over it. Unofficially, my doctor is pretty sure I also have ADHD, but I didn't see the point of being assessed, since I already get "special treatment" for being visually impaired.

    But, my sister was diagnosed with ADHD and also deals with periods of depression which leave me at a loss for how to help her.

    I think the world would be such a better place if everyone just accepted one another for their differences, rather than judging and making a big deal about needing to adapt.