Some times it is just too damn hard. You look out the window, you read the paper, you listen to conversations going on around you and it is so difficult to see any good in the world. One thing happens, then another, then another, and before you know it you have convinced yourself that you are jinxed and/or no good. Some times it just sounds easier to quit. Continue reading
So the past week or so has been rife with odd goings on in the Sunshine State. These events, strange though they may seem have fairly mundane explanations, and heart-wrenching ones at that. Which is why some people find the meme regarding a zombie apocalypse in Florida to be so offensive. A friend of mine posted this on her Tumblr. Mental illness is no joking matter and it is a source of pain for entire families, my own included. Which is why I linked you to my friend’s page and not the original article at Jezebel. If you think people suffering and being left to do so by a neglectful community is funny than I think her response is an appropriate one.
Beyond that, though, is an entirely separate reason why this meme, and others like it bother me so much. It is the reason why Evangelical Christianity, and other end-of-the-world obsessed religions irk me as well. This preoccupation with the world coming to an end encourages rejecting real community responsibility.
“Why worry about the welfare of the planet if none of us is going to be here tomorrow?” This is the heart of the problem with these lines of thought even when they are expressed in mirth. Why carpool, why reuse our bottles, why conserve water, why feed the poor or finally, why make sure the mentally ill get adequate care? When we are so close to the center of entropy’s spiral, why care about anything besides our own immediate gratification, whether it is emotional, physical or spiritual?
Freed from the burden of worry over how we leave the world we can rest, content that it doesn’t matter. At the very least it is one less thing to be anxious about. Well, I want to be anxious. I want to be concerned with how I am leaving this world for the younger generations. I already have so many friends and family among them, and seeing that I am only about halfway through my journey on this world, I am likely to have many more before I am gone. I would be a poor friend indeed if I gave into the relief of oblivion and let them inherit an awful mess.
So before you contribute to the dissemination of this meme, ask yourself first how the people involved in these incidents (and similar ones) feel about your doing so, and second, what sort of behavior you are encouraging in yourself and others. I have no problem with humor, even (if you know me you’d know “especially”) morbid humor. I do have a problem with reflexively sharing a joke in poor taste without reflecting on what it means to the world at large. Humor is supposed to make us think (jesters gave kings a chance to consider another perspective without being challenged directly) so let’s all do so.
If you are depressed,
you are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
you are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
you are living in the present.
If you think this makes sense,
you have mental health privilege.
From an internet graphic meme, original source unknown
I have had my struggles with mental health issues. Depression has plagued me at least since my late teens. In my late 30′s I was diagnosed bi polar, though later two different therapists told me they disagreed with the diagnosis and said that my depression had more to do with not dealing properly with my status as a trans woman and other issues that have arisen over the years. I have many loved ones, friends of loved ones and loved ones of friends that have also had their struggles with mental illness. Through this all, even when I was at my own personal lowest, I felt myself outraged on behalf of other mentally ill people for two very simple reasons: how lightly it is treated by those who do not struggle with it and how everyone, including the mentally ill, can still act like mental illness is a moral defect.
Too often in mainstream entertainment we see gross caricatures of the mentally ill. They are the butt of jokes, a source of cheap drama, the malevolent psychopath preying on your children or the pet “project” of the protagonist so that the producers can show what a good person he or she is. “Crazy”, “psycho”, “has issues” or actual clinical terms are used at the drop of a hat in public dialogue to describe anyone we disagree with. In using the image of mental illness to demonize others, we continue the demonization of the mentally ill.
With rare exceptions the mentally ill did nothing to create their illness. Whether it is innate due to a chemical imbalance or life events wearing you down, no one did anything to put themselves on the path to poor mental health. Maybe they have done things counter to improving it once they were on that path. I know I have done this, but when you are living on mist shrouded, rocky coast you are not sure where to step.
Things have gotten better. While the knee jerk reaction of the public at large when dealing with individuals is still fear, shock and judgement, we treat the mentally ill as a group with more compassion. I just think that over a hundred years after Freud, and with our ability to disseminate information around the world instantaneously, this should no longer be a struggle at all. If I may be so bold, those of you who use the words “crazy” or “psycho” so casually, or who judge the mentally ill: stop. For those of you who do not do those things, please, call out those that do.