mental illness issues
I have been through lots of therapy and lots of therapists in my life and my contention is that therapy can’t be used to actually treat uncontrolled, serious mental illnesses. Now, don’t get me wrong, therapy can be supportive to a person with an uncontrolled, serious mental illness and therapy can be useful to a person with an uncontrolled, serious mental illness (such as in the case where the therapist tracks your bipolar symptoms and report changes to your doctor) but therapy cannot be used to actually treat a serious and uncontrolled mental illness.
I need a break from bipolar. Like, seriously. You know when people say they need a vacation? These people have no idea what it really is to need a vacation. When you have a chronic illness, you suddenly understand what real, daily pressure is and how much you need to get away from it – if only you could. I wish I could get a break from bipolar.
I call myself crazy. I do. I’ve written about it before. I also say, “I am bipolar,” so shoot me. It’s not that I say these things pejoratively, I don’t, I say them because they’re correct usages of the English language and they are accurate. Other people have a problem with this. But you know what, their problem is not my problem. If I want to call myself crazy, or bipolar, or a redhead that’s my business, not yours.
This piece carries a heavy trigger warning. Please be careful.
My suicide attempt story is like many other suicide attempt stories, I’d imagine. It beings with an unrelenting mental illness (bipolar disorder), goes on to include painful events outside of my control and ends in an attempt on my life. But I like to think of my suicide attempt story as a story of survival – even when my own brain was trying to kill me.
Have you ever attempted suicide because of a mental illness? Have you ever gone to the emergency room (ER) because of a suicide attempt related to a mental illness? If you have, then you probably know, the mentally ill who attempt suicide are second-class patients in the ER. Doctors seem to, distinctly, not like people who attempt suicide. The same goes with people who self-harm. These people are second-class patients as well. But why are the mentally ill who attempt suicide second-class patients?
If you search the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you will see that anger is not a symptom of bipolar disorder. If you search the International Classification of Diseases manual (maintained by the World Health Organization) you will see that anger is not a symptom of bipolar disorder. It doesn’t appear to be recognized, or even proposed, that a symptom of bipolar disorder is anger.
The trouble with this seems to be that many people do experience anger, irritation and aggression as symptoms of their bipolar disorder. I am one of those people.
One of the least helpful things you can say to someone who self-harms is, “well, just stop cutting.” Believe me, for most people who cut, if it were that easy, they would have done it already. People struggle with ending self-harm not because they don’t want to but because they use self-harm as a coping skill and you can’t just take away someone’s only or best coping skill. They won’t know what else to do without it. So saying, “just stop cutting” to a self-harmer is like saying, “just stop crying” or “just stop talking to your friends” or “just stop drinking” – if that’s the coping skill the person uses to deal with pain, telling them to “just stop it” doesn’t work.
Is there really a question as to when to give in and let someone commit suicide? According to some commenters and a recent email I received, there sure is.
This morning, I received an email saying that I was “promoting torture” by telling people not to commit suicide. According to the emailer:
I’m not clear on why this blog makes people feel that ending one’s suffering is not an option…and in fact is a wrong thing to do….?
Don’t we all have choices? If we’ve done all we can and life is absolute hell, then why convince people to continue to live such lives?!
So the question is, is there really a time when you should give in and just let someone commit suicide?
This weeks is mental health week in Canada – not mental illness week. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being.”
This is true. We all do have mental health. And mental health is important. But what we need in society is mental illness week not mental health week.
Antipsychiatry, as a movement, matters and I would say that fighting antipsychiatry, as a movement, also matters.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to stick my head in the sand and just “live and let live.” I’m a live and let live kind of gal. It’s the way I handle most things and in terms of people who are critical of psychiatry (not antipsychiatrists; moderate, rational people) that’s how I feel about them. Criticism, in the end, is often healthy as it help to make an institution better.
But antipsychiatry? That’s another thing entirely. That’s a concept that needs to be fought. Actively.
There is this concept of “bipolar pride” or “borderline pride” or “mad pride” or “whatever-mental-illness pride.” I see it on people’s avatars, Facebook pages and whatnot. For some reason, people want to declare their bipolar and say they’re proud of it? I, for one, and not “proud” of bipolar and do not exhibit bipolar pride in any way.
Mental health mobile applications (apps for your phone, generally) can do things like track your mood, track your sleep and are targeted at different populations like people with posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. But there are gaps in the marketplace, things that are not currently being addressed by mental health mobile applications. So my question is for you, if you could have any mental health mobile application, what would it be?