Natasha Tracy Stigmatizes the Mentally Ill?
So I’m on Twitter today and someone says that Natasha Tracy stigmatizes the mentally ill (paraphrasing). Specifically, Bipolar Burble is “one of the most stigmatizing things I’ve ever seen.”
Now, in case you haven’t kept up with completely uncurrent events – Natasha Tracy also has a mental illness called bipolar disorder. And while I’m sure that some people don’t like the way I express that or my opinions on it, to say I’m stigmatizing to those with a mental illness is, well, redonkulous.
What Is Mental Illness Stigma?
Okay, as I’ve said before, mental illness stigma campaigns are not where we ought to be spending our time (see a talk I did on mental illness stigma here). Stigma is a fluffy concept about how others feel about those with a mental illness and we need to be focusing on how people with a mental illness are treated. It’s discrimination and prejudice that matters, not fluffy feelings, which, honestly, people have a right to no matter how much I may disagree with them.
That said, accusing me of stigmatizing people with mental illness is insulting. It suggests that I’m painting people with mental illness in a bad light and somehow making people feel negatively about those with a mental illness. That is utter poppycock.
Natasha Tracy, Stigma and Mental Illness
Let’s look at what I do on this blog and the others I have written. What I do is express what it’s like for me to have bipolar disorder – and this resonates with many people as many people with bipolar share experiences. I also express my opinions on mental illness and, often, bipolar disorder. Again, these opinions resonate for many – but, of course, not all.
And if expressing my experience with mental illness, bipolar, and my opinions on related topics spreads mental illness stigma, then guilty be I, I suppose.
But here’s the thing, I would never tell anyone that sharing personal experiences is stigmatizing to any group. Any genuine and honest experience is just that – a experience. The experience, in and of itself, is real, and it is not responsible for the feelings it may bring up in others. Hate me for my experiences? Well, that is your right but it’s not my fault.
The same goes for opinions. Look, if I say something horrible like [insert ethnicity] is the devil, I could understand people getting mad, but I would never say that. Moreover, even if I did, I still wouldn’t be responsible for stigmatizing a whole group of people. This is a country that has freedom of speech and that means I get to say whatever I want about whomever I want and if you react badly to it, it’s your problem, not mine.
(Of course, if I started spouting off hate speech, I would lose a significant number of a readers. That would be the consequence for my actions and I would have to deal with that.)
But, in short, I would never tell someone expressing their experience and views that they are responsible for stigmatizing a whole group of people – even if I really disagreed with him or her. Because people have the right to make up their own minds and just because I spout something hateful (which I don’t feel I do) that doesn’t mean that someone else has to take it on. People spout all kinds of hateful things about bipolar and mental illness all the time – that hasn’t changed my mind one whit.
So, to Twitter person I say this: stop blaming me for what you assume other people think after reading my work. That is not my problem – never has been. I don’t stigmatize anyone. I tell my persona truth. And if that doesn’t sit well with you, feel free to read someone else’s work that does.
Inset image by Live Life Happy.