Please note that this post could trigger off strong emotional reactions. Please take care of yourself and either don’t proceed or if after reading you feel crappy please contact your local services or jump online for online support.
If in Australia, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
My Dearest Reader,**
As most of you are probably aware, Miley Cyrus has been making a prig of herself. Seriously, her comments about Sinead O’Connor’s mental health made me rage more than usual. I was at a conference recently about Outrage in the disability sector. I have read some pretty horrible stories about abuse in the disability sector recently and Ms Cyrus’ comments were last straw. Ms O’Connor’s open letter was honest without being harsh and no one could argue that she was not reasonable through out this whole thing. I am fucking OUTRAGED that Ms Cyrus’ behaviour is considered acceptable. Ms O’Connor is right in her assertion that had Ms Cyrus’ comments been about thing else (race, religion, politics), Ms Cyrus would have been publicly bitched slapped for her transgressions. <breath Pinky> As a person living with mental illness I was fucking insulted.
I almost posted this on Facebook; I thought twice as this has never worked out well for me. Someone ALWAYS thinks it’s about them and I am not in the mood to defend my position. Things will be said, mainly by me, that will be regretted. I don’t need that kind of agro at the moment. So to you, Dear Reader, I offer up my outrage.
As most of you know, I have struggled with mental illness most of my life. I was once ashamed and silent. Over the last 5 years I have learnt to speak up and push back. At times this has lead to bullying and harassment as well as well intended people being well…you know, well intended <awkward>.
What Ms O’Connor expresses here is absolutely true. Silence kills. This is why I am an out and proud mental. This is why I will be honest about my experience. I do sugar coat it most of the time. It’s not like I give brutal detail. This is why when you* try to stigmatise me and shove me into a box, I will tell you to “Go fuck yourself”. I will not accept other peoples “discomfort” as an excuse to patronise me or to treat me as if I am “slow” or “special”. I’m not stupid, I have distorted thinking patterns and even if I did have a learning disability of that nature, don’t talk to me like that. I will agree that some of the things I have done and probably will continue to do in one way or another, are very fucking stupid/special. However, they are mine to learn from and not for anyone else to judge.
For those whom are uncomfortable with my discussions around my mental health, try living it. Try having to talk yourself through the most basic tasks, such as: checking the mail, calling a stranger, and asking for help. For one second, use the empathetic part of your brain (it’s in the front of your brain). Further, maybe if you had a bit more knowledge and I mean real knowledge, not your self help men are from mars bullshit. I’m talking a real understanding of the experiences of people (and yes we are people) living with a mental illness.
For me personally, my mental health status is only one part ( sometimes a big part ) of what makes me that strange creature I am. I also have other parts of my personality like my ability to make obscure references and Doctor Who quotes. There is also my love of history, my love of music and poetry and my love of 1920 – 1930’s fashion and my love shoes. I also am a bit of comedy geek and a politics nerd. To really fight stigma we need to start thinking, as a community, with a little more mindfulness. I am not at all suggesting that we should all have a group hug, but just a little courtesy, a little bit of thinking about others and what their story maybe. My questions to you would be, “What do you really know about the homeless man you walk past everyday?” If the answer is nothing, I would encourage you to find out or at least buy the man a coffee. I try to make a point of talking to homeless people, they are our greatest shame. What kind of place to we live in where there are people without a place to go? We’re shit is what we are.
I applaud Ms O’Conner for being a truly empathetic human being. When I learnt of Ms Cyrus’ comments I wanted to slap the little bitch. However, thankfully Ms O’Conner is far more gracious than I.
So if you are suffering in silence, afraid to speak out because of fear of the unknown, fear of the truth, or fear of the stigma, don’t worry, I would gladly punch anyone in the face on your behalf. Speak up, speak to anyone, please because you’re valuable.
*not ‘you’ but as in the general you. This post isn’t about any one person but a culmination of experience.
**Names have been change to protect the innocent.
*** This post is dedicated to all my friends who have battled mental illness both here and those who have gone.