Tag Archives: society

We Are Not All Allie Brosh

I wish to preface this by stating I am a huge fan of Hyperbole and a Half, and have been since I first read her pants-pissingly funny and apt This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult. When she posted her Adventures in Depression back in October 2011, I nodded along the whole way, because I certainly could identify with her. I thought good thoughts her way, and hoped we’d hear recovery-based news.

So when I heard the day before yesterday she was transitioning to make a proper post yesterday, I sat up and waited in anticipation. It meant that she was alive, and hopefully, doing better. So when I sat down to Depression Part Two on the back of many enthusiastic friends spamming my Facebook feed about it, I hoped to be similarly charmed. Certainly, I nodded along to a point… and then I didn’t anymore. I looked back over at Facebook, and I looked back to the pictures of corn, and I looked back over at Facebook:

Person One: We are all Allie Brosh!
Person Two: We are all Allie Brosh!
Person Three: We are all Allie Brosh!

And so on. It didn’t sit right with me, because I couldn’t agree. I’ve been dealing with severe and increasingly severe depression since I was a young teenager, and I have never in my life had a corn moment. I’m currently in the middle (start?) of a depressive episode on the back of a month of mixed episode badness, and I felt even more depressed seeing that. Part of Bipolar II is knowing that one is likely to have increasingly severe depressive episodes until they either die, or off themselves. We are not all Allie Brosh. We have not all (and might never) have a corn moment.

And then I felt a bit angry — while I am definitely glad that people identify in a meaningful way, it makes me feel marginalized for not having the same experience. One thing that I have certainly not felt since getting involved with other mental health bloggers is marginalized; I feel that we do a fantastic job supporting each other and accepting that we all have our experiences, and that we certainly accept that and spread the love as we may. I certainly do not denigrate her experience — it is hers to share as she sees fit, and like us, it is wonderful if it makes folks feel better/less alone.

But the problem with where she stands is that people ARE rushing to treat her experience as -everyones’- experience, and that is simply not the case. And in that, I am wary of people trying to force her into being the role model for mental health/illness/depression. I’m probably not the only one who would be concerned by that combination. I know for me, it took a lot of hard work and effort and trying to make myself stand up and share my experience, and be able to say that my feelings are valid; I don’t want the crowd to take one person’s (whether it be mine or anyone else’s) experience and act as if it is the ‘the one’, the only one. I am sure that she would feel the same way if the roles were switched and she were in my shoes, because she is an intelligent, clever, hilarious person with a lot of good things to say and who says them very well. There is very obviously a brain working in that wonderful head.

So no, I don’t blame Allie Brosh for what is happening. I still think that she is a fantastic writer and doodler, and I admire her greatly and would happily give her hugs and chocolate and coffee (I might fight her for the Skittles though. Bitches love Skittles). Nor am I upset that people identify with her. Just remember that in your excitement, you’re telling other people that they’re wrong because their experience is different to yours (and a lot of them won’t have the spoons to tell you so). We are not all Allie Brosh, even if most of us love her too.

<3

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Preaching to the Choir (About Mental Illness)

I think that we are all very brave for standing up and sharing our experiences with having a mental illness. I think we are brave to put our lives out there so people can see they are not alone. Having said that? It’s pretty easy to do these things in a warm and supportive community bubble. We all know (give or take) what the rest of the group are going through, and even if we don’t have the magic bullet words of support, knowing that we’re all out there for each other goes a long way towards making sure each of us are able to take the next wobbly step on our journey upwards and onwards.

But it’s not so easy to stand up directly against people outside of the bubble. I know that we all see our fair share of people, of ‘friends’ posting ‘funny’ things slagging off mental illnesses. I had such an incident yesterday. A back-home friend from yesteryear posted something he thought was funny that I felt was insulting, and I told him so and why. I did it even knowing that it would leave my anxiety spiked through the roof, and my heart racing, and my paranoia going into overdrive about the vitriol that I was going to receive (my brain is always convinced that people are going to be hateful and nasty about anything I say. It makes me a bit defensive sometimes). It’s also painful for me because me in the post-self-medication days has no armor; there will always be a part of me that longs to be shit-faced drunk, which often feels like a warm ‘safe’ place to have opinions. I like having opinions. I like sharing them. I just have to pick and choose extra-carefully now because it’s always going to hurt me physically and mentally to do so.

Because I knew I wanted to talk about this after posting last night, I made myself go see what my friend’s response was. Well… let’s just say that it didn’t fly, and was rather abusive. It’s that old saw — if person X thinks it’s funny, then it’s funny and you’re somehow an asshole. In this case, it turned out said friend had his own mental health issues, and felt that I was out of bounds for being offended. So then, if we were black and I was offended because you as a black man posted something racist, would I be out of bounds? What if we were both Christians, and I felt your post was slagging off my faith? Oh, you say those aren’t the same things? I think they are, world at large. It’s the same rule I apply when moderating the kinship I’m an officer in over at The Lord of the Rings Online – if someone is offended, they are not wrong. Apologise, be mindful of offending your compatriots, or scoot off. Respecting other people is, amazingly, a good thing to do!

In the end, I told this friend that I was sorry he was feeling poorly, told him I wasn’t going to stand around for the abuse, unfriended him, and moved on. It breaks my heart how often I see this particular issue from friends and family Stateside — they get really worked up and angry at me for daring to be open about my mental health state and saying stigma doesn’t fly because either:

  1. They feel they cannot do the same, or
  2. They resent me ‘forcing’ them to come out into the open about their mental illness.

I do understand that admitting to mental illness is against the whole rugged individuality American culture is hung up on, I do. But who are you harming if you hide your illness away? Why, yourself — 1 in 4 people will have a mental illness in their life, so it’s not like you’re the odd one out if you have depression, or bipolar, or an anxiety disorder, or whatever permutation of mental illness one might call their own. Your illness isn’t going to magically go away if you tell someone else off for daring to stand up against stigma and stereotyping.

Anyways, I do hope he gets to feeling better, but as said — I’m not sticking around to find out. And as much as I go out of my way to love the ones who need it most (which is why I do my best to make the rounds and share my love and support with you guys <3), I know that part of taking care of me is not putting myself out there to be anyones’ whipping boy.

<3

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Waiting (Depression Rising?)

The international sign of depression... or something.

The international sign of depression… or something.

I hit the point last night that, I suspect, many of us will mental disorders dread — boredom of the ennui level. Yes, that point where all the things that one enjoys doing day in and day out suddenly pall. I don’t mind the rut phase of existing, mind, but hitting that point is always very worrisome for me. It is usually the precursor to depression of some stripe or another (but probably of the major episode kind).

I don’t want another major depressive episode, obviously — who of us actually does? With this mixed state, at least I’ve been able to nudge myself along and get some things done. And, I sincerely do think, I have done a good job managing it this time and not pushing myself too hard. I can sort of take perverse pleasure in the fact the episode has lasted nearly a month, rather than ultradian super-duper rapid cycling — it is progress of a sort. It doesn’t make much easier though. I might be able to do a better job of hunkering down when it’s more one way or the other rather than super-both, but it’s still brutal to get through.

I’m curious though — when y’all out there get to this point of knowing, do you feel like you’re pretty much predestined to screw up something and dive right into the bad? I’m clinging on, but little dinks like well-meaning folks who don’t understand bipolar/depression offering cheerful advice always seem to congregate around this point on the progression. Which, of course, is insanely draining because they mean well, but they don’t know why what they’re saying isn’t the best things to be saying, and you don’t want to come off crazy or ungrateful, etc (and of course, always worrying about actually expressing this point, ’cause of potential repercussions of well-meaning person reading it and getting upset, or getting overly apologetic, and… it cycles around and around and down). That’s always seems to be ‘the one’ that gets me. Or conversing with a friend and no matter what I say or type, it all comes out cack-handed and starts the spiral downward.

*makes self stop to take a deep breath*

So yeah, fun. Not! I think I’ll be trying to hide out in a book today to see if I can stave things off. I hope everyone else is doing alright, and that nobody or nothing is triggering anything bad for any of y’all out there.

<3

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What My Hobbies Don’t Make Me (A List of Sorts About Stereotypes)

  1. Just because I’ve been a video gamer my entire life, it doesn’t mean I’m some sort of murderer unable to integrate into society.
  2. Just because I’m a crocheter and a knitter, it doesn’t make me a grandmother. I’ve been doing one since childhood, and figured out the other as an adult.
  3. Just because I enjoy baking, it doesn’t mean that I’m some anti-feminist stuck in the 50s. I simply derive enjoyment from turning out tasty things by my own two hands.
  4. Just because I am an avid reader, it doesn’t mean that I have no grip on reality. Liking the stories in books is no different than liking the arcs of whatever is on television these days. It’s just a matter of preference.

I make this list both to share the hobbies I enjoy, and to make the point that most of us with mental illnesses make — just because I have bipolar (insert your flavour of disorder here), it doesn’t mean I’m some off-the-hook psychopath lying in wait to kill someone. I’m just another person doing their best to get through this maze of life, and having to do it with a little more weight on their shoulders.

And like other people, I like doing things; while you don’t have to like them personally, I’d say to put the shoe on the other foot — how would you feel if someone assumed you were like x or y because you liked certain things? How would you like people deciding that you had to be a certain way because you were ‘normal’? Yeah, the shoe never fits comfortably on the other foot, but it does us good as people to reflect and remember the Golden Rule — to do unto others as you would have done unto you, and to always try to remember that some are struggling, and to love them to better love yourself.

And as I’m going far afield and starting to be a bit with the proselytizing (whups), I’ll wrap it back around to the first point — that while stereotypes exist, that doesn’t tell the truth of a person. And that it’s something to keep in mind, especially when society tries to pressure us into thinking that a person has to be ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ for looking like they fit into a stereotype. I’m sure we all have stories about how stereotyping has been detrimental, and I’d love to hear about it from others, to see what it’s like from a completely different pair of shoes.

Beyond that, happy Friday, and I hope that everyone will have a faboo weekend.

<3

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The Same Coin

Yesterday, I found out that Baroness Margaret Thatcher died while I was working on my post for here. I have no real opinion on her; I accept that she was incredibly divisive and that a lot of people were worse off because of her actions as Prime Minister. But I also don’t have all the facts, and I am too young (and too foreign) to have been affected by her policies (Reagan and Bush, on the other hand… ¬¬). While I knew that she was unpopular in some corners, I was not ready for the sheer flaming vitriol from some corners, or the appalling irony that the worst of it seemed to come from pot-smoking hippies (way to miss your own remit, folks).

When I was a teenager, I remember burning with loathing for a former friend who had cast me aside over trivial things. I couldn’t magically afford distinctly different Christmas cards for all my friends (her and another friend opened theirs at the same time to find them the same and weren’t impressed; I was 12 at the time), nor did I worship Bette Midler. I was furious and torn up and bitter to be cast aside so easily, and I didn’t know what to do with the emotions raging through me. My mother looked at me and calmly stated that love and hate were different faces of the same coin, and if I wanted to be quit of someone who had cast me off so discourtesy, why was I wasting so much energy on hatred? Why was I giving someone who was undeserving of my attentions as much energy as I would invest on a loved one? It didn’t make the bitter feelings fade, but it *did* give me food for thought. I still catch myself with a few people that I wish my heart would quit that my loathing was just the coin of my love being turned over, and that these things do take time to pass, but still… to try to not feed that poisonous flame. In fact, one of my acquaintances said this yesterday:

‘…yet they’re actually damaging all the living beings still here to catch the splashback from rage and hate. i just don’t have that in me anymore, even for the people i truly loathe… and i can’t abide seeing the collateral damage left by hate.’

And that is definitely part of the thing — by carrying hatred, it poisons not only the bearer, but those around them. And I think that, perhaps, for those of us with bipolar and a lack of filtering ability, it’s even more brutal to have someone’s ill feelings brutally forced upon our attentions. I’ve got enough troubles managing my own spiking jagged emotions that any other strong feelings forced upon me are an imposition! And it still horrifies me that my unmanaged bipolar meant I was splashing all over people. I know how painful expelled emotions can be on unwary people in the vicinity, and I can only take comfort (a very very minor, freezing cold comfort) that I tried my hardest to minimize the damage as best I could.

So that begs the question — is it selfish to expect people to behave better? Or is that just setting a standard for one’s own life and times that is a completely reasonable boundary to have? I’m definitely not saying that people aren’t ‘allowed’ to have negative feelings, but that I expect people in my life to have a more mature and less vitriolic approach to expressing their concerns (Here is a great example was posted by one of my G+ friends yesterday). It’s good manners, and while I admit that I’m not perfect in that regard either, I certainly cannot see any room whatsoever for the hateful behaviors I saw yesterday. While some might think it hip to hate on public figures, it doesn’t change the fact that woman was a mother, a wife, a friend, and a sickly failing old woman. Would you want someone to do the same to your grandmother? I certainly wouldn’t.

Anyways, I will continue to hold up standards for those that I interact with, because in setting my own territory, I need to take care of me. That it makes the world a less hateful and chaotic place, well… bonus.

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One is Not the Other

One thing that has been strongly reinforced to me in my journey of self-discovery is that all our experiences and feelings are unique unto ourselves. This has become especially relevant since finding out that I had bipolar, because it went a long ways towards helping me understand the chemistry and reasoning behind why I felt certain ways and at certain strengths.

From http://kazza.id.au

In the last week, I’ve had to think specifically about frustration and anxiety as relates to my bipolar brain, and how it relates to others in general. As you loyal reading folk know, I’ve been mulling over a dilemma of sorts this past week, and it’s gotten me to points of wahgarbling near-rage from not being able to express how I was feeling and why I needed people to step back. I’m sure we all have moments where we’re so frustrated at trying to make words make sense that we go off the deep end, but that was the default for a large swathe of my life. It has only been the past year that I’ve felt… cogent. Which is great, because it means I’m able to (for the most part) train myself out of descending into throwing rage-poop. It’s not something I wanted to do, and being able to stop the potential train-wreck feels wonderful. It’s not made my fear of offending go away; I still cringe at any single notification, whether it be a private message, an email, a comment, or a messenger messenger. I pray that response goes away some year, but I’m not sure it ever will.

One of the ‘good’ things (as I am one to take good from bad and make the most of my experiences) is that I can recognize it when friends are hitting that same wall. It stops me from being hurt when I shouldn’t be, and generally has gone a long way in helping me not lash out at people who probably are bemused to watch their own train of reason derail in an inglorious burning fashion. It feels good to not rise up; after all, bad breeds bad, good breeds good, and I desire to make the world a brighter place on the whole. And if I’m wrong and someone is just trying to be a troll, well… don’t feed ‘em, ha ha. But I do prefer to believe that people on the whole desire to be good and do good, and I’m happy to not make their discomfort worse in situations like that. I know how it feels for people to think that you’re just trying to start a fight, or who the crap knows what.

Whatever the case, I do my best to remember that most wise mantra of the 1980s — be excellent to each other. It truly is the way to go.

<3

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Mulling

I’ve been stumbling around trying to find writing inspiration this morning, but there’s not been anything extraordinary standing out. What has shown itself over and over again is just how demonized mental illnesses like bipolar and schizophrenia are in some quarters. A lot of pieces popping up were out of the United States especially, and they either suggested that the mentally ill were some sort of burdensome problem, while others grudgingly admitted that there needed to be better mental health provision on the whole. And then there were that handful that were panic attacking about how many mothers were on psychiatric drugs and zergrush whhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. *snorts* Probably because, like me, they looked at their ability to cope and decided that they needed a little help to be a better parent? Mommy can’t exactly drink to drown out the intrusive thoughts anymore, after all.

I think what I might do is do a bit of (re)reading on bipolar//bipolar 2. I’m not sure what else I can find that might be informative and new to me, but there’s this little scritchle in the back of mind that tells me that doing a refresher/some research might be ideal before the next wave of depression finds its way back to me. Then another part of my brain tells me to not dwell on it and to enjoy the now (whatever that might be). Iunno, the longer time goes by that I cannot class as hypomanic or obviously depressed, the less I trust it and the harder it is to identify what’s what. I guess it doesn’t surprise me — after all, I know I can’t exactly trust my brain. Maybe some day I’ll be able to trust it around the bipolar, but that day definitely hasn’t come yet.

For now though, back to the meditative grind that is work.

<3

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Purpose

I was muttering a bit about purpose the other day. It gives lives meaning and all of that. And yet, I continue to have no specific purpose to my life, other than making it through another day. It’s sort of a weird thing for me, insomuch as I am completely lacking in desire to have some grandiose end goal in my life. I consider my job something to pay the bills rather than supposedly fulfilling some need or want of status. I rarely concern myself with status, as it strikes me as a rather silly game played by children with no self-worth (I know, that’s way cold of me). And while I acknowledge that purpose brings fulfillment to lives, I certainly don’t beat myself up about the lack of it in me — I’m doing my best to move past my old self-flagellating ways.

So yes, there’s a bit of a conflict and a conundrum and a paradox in all of that… like in pretty much everything else. I acknowledge that a life with purpose is likely to provide more fulfillment. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now — I am happier when I can be doing something. It shuts up the mind, and well, ticks the boxes of purpose (however minor). I acknowledge that having some big end goal can give people immense pleasure to and through achieving their goal… though the pessimist in me tends to have a large ‘Why bother?’ in knowing the dissatisfaction that can come after obtaining something lofty and desired. There’s also a big part of me that feeds the ‘Why bother?’ in having technically done so much already in my life; when you’ve got a laundry list that most people are impressed by, it tends to make everything else out there look boring and pointless to aim for.

I also, in the interest of fairness, do occasionally pause to reflect on this from the viewpoint of being mentally ‘ill’. Am I jealous of neurotypical people and their lesser barriers to achievement? I honestly believe that to be a no; I have some supposedly impressive achievements in my past and present. Nor do I resent them for having it ‘easier’; we all have our hang-ups and issues in our lives, and as ‘bad’ as Bipolar II might seem to many, it is what I am used to dealing with. I know that I am a strong person, and because I have my ‘label’, I can and have been doing my best to unfold my stories and experiences. I might make it look easy to some, but shizz… it’s not. I’m stubborn and picked up a good life philosophy at an early age, and I do my best to know me so I can work with me. But it also means that I have to make due with less doing to preserve what I have, and that can be admittedly frustrating.

None of this changes the base conflict though – I acknowledge purpose to be good, and would not mind having more to my life. Maybe something will make itself apparent to my cheerfully fatalist self in time. All I can do is continue trying to keep on keeping on, and see what makes sense when the time comes for it to make sense. Maybe something will occur to me that will provide succor over a period of time, rather than something that gets ticked off the non-existent tickylist (like winning NaNoWriMo). Though I will say there is absolutely no desire for ideas or suggestions; that would only give me undue stress. I can myself tell myself to learn another language or pick up another instrument or any number of banal things that oh… I’ve already done. So we’ll see, and I’ll guess I’ll make due with doing the little things as I can, and enjoy the small amount of pleasure they bring with them.

<3

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Like a Virus?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to explain to my driving instructor why telling me to calm down and slow down is counter-productive. While he is obviously neurotypical and means well, it is still rather annoying! Of course I know I should do things slower, but try telling my brain to cooperate with that when the default mode is more anxious than not! Finally today, I made a real breakthrough. I was explaining that places where I screw up, my brain shuts down and that is why I don’t respond in a timely and useful manner. He laughed and compared it to a computer virus, and I concurred. If one is going to make any sort of connection about dysfunctionality, that is worth celebrating to me.

I’ll add that even though the mistakes I made today were of a level where I wanted to cry (thanks brain, you’re a pal :p), he assured me that I’m still on track for my test next week. Fingers crossed he’s right, ha ha. I’m mainly feeling good about it… but I’ll feel even better when it’s done and I don’t have to worry about fekakkin’ manual transmissions again. *grins*

I’m also, on a related note, pleased to see a public movement here to end mental health discrimination:

http://time-to-change.org.uk/

I will concede that here in the UK, we have the advantage of very forthright celebrities talking about their mental health issues; while he’s not perfect, Stephen Fry being out with his cyclothymia means more people are willing to discuss and ask questions about the bipolar disorders. I would have been upfront and honest about it were I still in the States as well, but it is definitely ‘easier’ against a social backdrop more geared towards acceptance (instead of say, painting us as the real problem with guns… when no. *rolls eyes*). Something like one in four people will experience some sort of mental health issue in their lives, so why should anyone have to hide what is fairly common? I do understand that it’s hard to understand just how differently some of our brains work, but at least if we have and use the freedom to talk about it… then maybe we can make understanding the norm. I definitely don’t expect it to require special treatment towards me (and I am sure anyone with a mental health disorder would feel the same), but a little understanding all the way around is definitely a fantastic way to make society a better place.

Anyhoos.

<3

 

Paranoia

I do my best to disguise it, but I am incredibly paranoid. I try to be mindful of what I can use as a weapon wherever I am, I do my best to look imposing in spite of my tiny female stature, and my brain is very good at convincing itself that I am going to be killed or raped by merely being outside. The logical part of my brain knows that’s total bollocks and that the chances of me being assaulted or kidnapped or murdered are slim to nil.

However, it leads me to a conundrum of sanity tonight — do I go out, or stay in? Because my little one is going to bed earlier, my fortnightly outing situation means I can either go for half an hour and get a lift home, or maybe manage to find a lift home from other attendees… or take a cab. The former is ridiculous, the middle is improbable (everyone else lives in completely different directions from me!), or do I take a cab and pray that the driver isn’t a murderer or rapist or opportunist out to try their luck on a smallish female person? The latter is the obvious choice, but I suspect you can all pick up the bullcrap my brain is flooding my body with, thoughts and chemicals and all. It will (hopefully!) only be an issue twice because I should have my British driving licence soon… which means that I can spend lesser times freaking out about getting killed or raped walking to my car (’cause yanno, town centre places having parking lots? Ha ha, ha ha… ha… no). Thanks brain, you continue to be quite a pal.

Obviously, I’m going to do my best to ignore the nagging and the body flooded with freaked out to actually attempt to have the meagre social life I need to get by in life. But damn… it’s going to be hard. I can hope that the first positive experience will help me fight my brain’s desire to be panicked… but we shall see. I’m not going to let it win without a fight, yanno?

<3