Romancing the Stone

So, I don’t even know how to start this post except by saying WHAT THE HELL? Now, if that’s not a great first sentence to pull you in, I don’t know what is.

Did you know, my sweet peeps, that it is now ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ to be mentally ill? OK. I’m going to pause a minute to let you take that in………la dee dah……la dee dah…..(pretend this is Jeopardy music 🎵). Yes my dears, it’s ‘in’ to be mentally ill. In fact, it’s become something that is not only sensationalized, but romanticized in so many ways in our society right now, particularly on social media.

It’s sad to me that to belong, too many younger people are now embracing the idea that they themselves have some type of mental disorder. Depression, anxiety, bipolar (🙄), a personality disorder, etc. These disorders have become ‘tragically beautiful’ or, at the very least, trivialize what mental illness really is. Regardless, mental illnesses are being sensationalized for attention and grasshoppers, that’s not right.

Look on Twitter…there’s this hashtag: #IGetDepressedWhen and here’s a couple of goodies – “I get depressed when my battery low” , or “I get depressed when I know summers almost over”, or “I get depressed when there’s no bacon for lunch.” Hmmmmm. I gotta be honest here. I’ve been struggling with depression as part of being bipolar for the great majority of my 40 years on earth (heh? OK, 50?), and I can honestly say, without reservation, that I’ve never ever been thrown into a depressive episode because I’m having a PBJ for lunch instead of bacon. Never.

Here’s a ‘quote’ I found: “She can paint a pretty picture but the story has a twist. Her paintbrush is a razor and her canvas is a wrist.” (Seriously…are you kidding me?) And another: “I think suicidal people are just angels who want to go home.” One more: “I’m jealous of people with enough self-control to be anorexic.” What the hell??? 😡

Let’s give these folks the reality of mental illness. Suicide is not a Shakespearean tragedy where the person was gracefully lifted from their pain while looking beautiful in their peaceful death. Not by a fucking (sorry, ma) long shot. Suicide is guns or pills or razors or ropes and it’s bloody and ugly and messy and scary and heartbreaking and irreversible. These people are never going to take a breath again…never have a chance of life again…never going to realize that what they went through could have gotten better to where suicide wasn’t the only option they could see. Plus, it’s hell on earth for the one’s that are left. The person didn’t commit suicide and then see how dramatically it played out on social media or how it became the basis for a Netflix show. They killed themselves. They are dead. And no matter what their situation or pain or illness, it’s nothing but a tragedy for both the victim and the survivors. Period.

And self-harm? Those of you that know me are aware that have I cut myself in the past and have 16 scars on my legs, arm, belly and boob. Two of my scars are over 4″ long and will be angry red welts forever. These scars are not beautiful. My body was not a ‘canvas’ I was decorating. The razor in my hand was not a paintbrush. There is nothing glamorous about what I did. I cut myself because I was having a mental breakdown that put me in such a depression that my mind told me it was the only thing I could do to release some of the pain. When I see my scars everyday, I don’t see a victory or a tragic piece of art. And I definitely don’t see them as being sexy as this quote says: “Call me crazy but I think emo girls/guys with self harm scars are sexy because it shows how much they have been through but never actually gave up.” And no, if any man ever looked at them and saw them as being arousing, I would run. Quickly.

And there are people who wish they were anorexic? Really? Well, as luck would have it, I have experience with this gem of a mental illness as well. There has not been a moment in my life from the time I was a freshman in high school (just a few years ago…) that I haven’t thought about how many calories are in a bite of food every time I eat something. Every. Single. Time. I can’t eat something because it tastes good. I can’t eat something out of pleasure. I can’t eat something not ‘necessary’ without feeling a lot of guilt and that I’m ‘bad’ for wanting it. I’ve known countless times what it’s like to be so weak from not eating that you can barely go from one task to another, and I don’t know how many birthday cakes, cookies, and other goodies people have made me over the years that I’ve trashed the moment they leave. You don’t recover from anorexia…you work every single solitary day to keep it in check, knowing that if you veer off a healthy course, you will succomb to the illness again. That is not having self-control, peeps…it’s actually quite the opposite.

You know, not only is this glamourization of mental illness a dangerous thing, it makes me wonder why anyone would want to be associated with something so stigmatizing in the first place. Maybe it’s giving the person attention or empathy or validation they are so desperately looking for. And if this is the only way that can happen in their lives, that’s something that needs to be addressed. Are there that many people not receiving the love and support they need without having to go to such lengths? Are there that many people shouting out: “See me” because they don’t feel ‘seen’ any other way? Are we living in a world where we are so into ourselves that we can’t see others crying for help unless the cry is so dramatic it can’t be missed? How sad this is.

I can’t imagine ‘pretending’ to have a mental illness…I wish to heaven I could experience what it’s like not to be mentally ill. It’s hard for me to understand why you would want to invent, and then share, a ‘mental illness’ because in reality, admitting you have one causes you to lose friends, opportunities, respect, and the list goes on. There are so many people that treat me differently now that I’ve ‘come-out.’ Some people/acquaintances/colleagues just stay away (which is fine…), others use it against me, while many just ignore it and pretend it simply doesn’t exist (“but you look normal”), plus I know it’s affected a couple of men from asking me out. Revealing a mental illness does not bring you the type of attention you think it might…trust me on this.

I talk about being bipolar for one reason, and one reason only, and this was voiced by a friend yesterday: “Well, you’re one of the people I look up too. You were one of the first people I knew to be extremely transparent about your mental health and that’s had an impact on me. It’s so important to destigmatize mental illness.” This is why I share it, my sweet peeps. I don’t share it for attention or sympathy or for ‘likes’. I share because I want people to know that mental illness sucks balls, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that should have to be hid. It’s a reality that too many people live with and we need to come together and make sure it’s treated like any other illness with support and understanding given to all who suffer from it.

Kristi xoxo

Author: Kristi

Just a bipolar Professor working to end the stigma of mental illness.

7 thoughts on “Romancing the Stone”

  1. Once again, I cannot tell you how much I love your posts. Well, I could, but people would think that we should probably get a room or something. Anyway, this is awesome. I have not seen this trend, I tend to think of Twitter as a cesspool, but I’ve seen so many young people who embrace this – and honestly, I think it’s because they think it gives them a pass to behave badly. “It’s not my fault I was a rotten little shit to you, I suffer from depression!” Or, “I can’t take this test, my anxieties!” I may be harsh, hell, I most likely am, but I grew up in a time when you sucked it up and did what you had to do. And you, my friend, do that every single day from what I see. I don’t mean to diminish your struggles for one second, I admire you for being able to function in this world with what you have to deal with. Oh, shit, that sounds awful and I hope you know what I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Miss Suzie, I know exactly what you mean. I got my masters, been a professor for 25 years and mommied, and never once used bipolar as an excuse for wanting leeway because of it. Those with mental illness need to know so many of us can have a productive life… You don’t have to live at the mercy of it always!!! And, I want to be your neighbor and bestie… Like right now… Especially so you can see the awesome plants I bought today and then sit in my yard and drink some margaritas!!! ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OH EMMM GEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Margaritas are my favorite drink in the entire d universe and maybe beyond! Okay, you need to move to PA and buy the place across from me so we can sit on the porch and watch the deer run around the fields and grow stuff and get tipsy and do magic in the moonlight in my field!

        Like

  2. I was not aware of this disturbing trend. I guess the roots go back a long way. People have always romanticised mental illness and suicide in artists and writers like Vincent van Gogh and Sylvia Plath. It’s a disturbing thing to be trending on Twitter though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree…they really have. And it’s bad since these younger kids on social media see this and believe they need to be in this ‘special’ mentally ill group too…it’s like copycat suicide. Thank you for your comment, Luftmentsch… ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My God I can’t even tell you how mad that stuff makes me. My former Yoga teacher told me we’re all bipolar. The last thing I heard from an ex friend was right after watching A Beautiful Mind and being told “See?” Just ignore it.”The look of alarm on his face when I explained, somewhat forcefully, that Bipolar 1 and Paranoid Schizophrenia were completely different things, that special agent Ed Harris could be ignored but the little guy whispering in my ear, all accusations and reproach, was ME and he can’t lie to me.
    I receive all of my non mental health medical care at the VA medical center. I get great care but everyone who sees me has access to my whole chart so I get lots of unsolicited advice, mostly inane and stupid. At this point I’m at the “Where did you get your board certification to practice psychiatry?” stage, but not for long. I’ve been told I need Jesus but they have no idea how great an ecstasy of religious fervor you can have in the midst of a manic episode. The most recent, courtesy of my primary care doctor’s PA, was “Go for a walk”. No problem that can’t be oversimplified out of existence.
    But even this, being doubted or misunderstood or the butt of jokes, bipolar is an easy target, isn’t as sickening as being envied by the ignorant for having something in my life I would give anything to be rid of. I have hurt my wife (Emotionally)more times than I can count and the guilt and self reproach of it eats at me every day. But she is a woman of strong character and she knows what kind of man I really am. If you want to envy me something, envy me that. Good post, Kristi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow…this is such an excellent comment and you said what so so so many need to hear! You are amazing to be dealing with so much and your wife sounds like a blessing. xoxo 🙂

      Like

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