Recently I wrote about why people with a mental illness shouldn’t be denied access to guns. My argument is, essentially, that it is a violation of their rights to judge the mentally ill based on a medical diagnosis and, in this society, we judge people based on what they do and not their medical conditions.
Some of the commenters on this post brought up the fact that with access to weapons, a person with a mental illness may be more likely to commit suicide. For example, about half of all people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide and certainly, an attempted suicide with a gun is very likely to be a completed suicide.
However, this doesn’t change my opinion one bit. While I have written and written about suicide and suicide attempts and I have said that, as a society, we should aim for zero suicides, that does not mean that we should violate people’s rights to do it.
Ah psychiatric medication. I know; it’s really what we all love to hate in mental illness. Psychiatric medication can fix you up or pull you down and many of us have experienced both these things.
But there are more risky psychiatric medications and less risky psychiatric medications, in my estimation anyway. And one of the major ways to judge risk is based on history.
Today marks the launch of HealthPlace’s new campaign that encourages people to Stand Up for Mental Health. You can learn all the details about the Stand Up for Mental Health Campaign here.
What Does it Mean to Stand Up for Mental Health?
So what does it mean to stand up for mental health? Well, basically it means making mental health issues and mental illness visible. It means talking about mental illness. It means talking about people who have mental illness. It means showing your support for others. It means not being ashamed of your mental illness.
I’m a mental illness advocate, but quite frankly, if I wasn’t, I could be an anti-gun advocate. I’m not a fan of guns. Not in the least. Pieces of metal designed to kill strike me as being archaic and barbaric and speak to the basest nature of humanity and are not particularly enlightened. This is not to suggest I would ban guns (if anyone cares) but there are types of guns I would ban and laws I would enact to limit access to weapons.
So now that you know my political leanings I say this: you cannot take away a person’s (legal) access to guns just because they have a mental illness. It’s wrong and it fundamentally violates their rights.
OK, I understand that a suicide attempt is not a suicide attempt if the end desire is not death, but stick with me here, I have a point.
Believe it or not, I get a lot of searches on this site by people searching for ways to attempt suicide and not die (their words). And while many people may find this unbelievable, I don’t actually think it’s all that uncommon. I think many people make suicide attempts that are less about death and more about screaming for help.
A large part of what I do as a writer is explain to people what it feels like to have bipolar disorder. I explain and I explain and I explain what it is to have a sick brain. I explain and I explain and I explain what it feels like. What it lives like. Honestly, it’s a tall order at the best of times.
But now, after the holidays, after family, after time away, I am way too tired to tell you what it feels like to be bipolar.
The holidays are here. I know; it seems like they shouldn’t be; but all the inflatable snowmen, tacky garland and lit icicles cannot be denied – it’s holiday time.
Many of us dread the holidays, and even those who don’t can find it difficult to stay even-keeled throughout. Mood shifts are all too common this time of year and many people spend the New Year looking for ways to get back from mania (or hypomania) or depression.
So here’s my guide to staying sane, or at least dealing with bipolar, during the holidays.
Why Depressed People Don’t Kill Themselves
Many people with bipolar depression are suicidal. Not all, of course, but many. Most people with bipolar depression, in fact, most people who are suicidal, do not kill themselves though. In fact, you can live with suicidality for years without ever killing yourself or even attempting to kill yourself.
And while people stay alive for many reasons, I have my own reasons for not killing myself.
Yup, it’s the gift-giving season. I’m buying some gifts that I can’t afford and others that I don’t like. Ah, the holidays.
But the question is, are there gifts that are actually appropriate for someone with bipolar disorder?
Actually, yes, there are.
As I’ve said many times, people view me as a high-functioning bipolar. And to a large extent, this is true. I do many things every day that many people with bipolar disorder can’t do because of their illness. I do battle with my bipolar demons and win more than some others. But here’s the thing: I still find bipolar disorder, and life, to a large extent completely overwhelming and I feel paralyzed by it.
Recently I wrote about the phenomenon of “earworms” which (if you ask me) is a type of obsessive thought. It’s when music gets stuck in your head. It’s something that everyone experiences, and it’s annoying but I suspect that earworms are a type of obsessive thought that occurs in those with bipolar disorder more than for other people. (There isn’t evidence of this, but there is evidence that those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) get more earworms and bipolar disorder may be linked to OCD.)