I’m one of those people that most in the online mental-health community hate. And by that, I mean hate vehemently.
I have a little wall plaque that says this on it, that I keep hanging on my closet door in my room. And I joke about my OCD constantly. I think that my friends and coworkers all just think I have it in the sense of the phrasing, “I’m so OCD, I had to organize my books in order today.” You know, the usual joking that makes one wince because they clearly have no clue what OCD really is. I don’t think any of them realize that I really do have OCD and on some days, even with medication, I really struggle to play at being normal so I won’t be bothered by them about my “weird habits”.
And lest anyone think I’m only making fun of one of my disorders, I will joke about my bipolar as well. I live in the larger Seattle area (people outside the area think it’s all Seattle, but it isn’t). It’s a pretty well-known local joke that the weather here is crazy, one minute it is rainy, then its sunny. So I’ll even joke about the weather reflecting my moods and how they change. Of course, friends will say the weather is “bipolar”. I usually just laugh them off, there isn’t a point to explaining it every time someone makes a crack comment. And sometimes I just don’t feel like trying to explain what bipolar really is.
It’s always put me off a bit about the vehement hatred towards these jokes.
Now, on the one hand I get just as annoyed when I see some idiot teenager who is online “lol-ing” it up about how they’re sooo bipolar, because they were upset they got into a fight with their boyfriend. Or the ones who joke when they post a photo of a restaurant tiled floor pattern with one tile out of order and then say they hate it, so that makes them OCD. I get annoyed as anyone else with this, because their playing light about it is something that takes away from everyone who really does suffer from these things. And teenagers are just generally idiots (gods, and I know I was just as bad as them a few years ago)–so their moronic posts and circling the wagons to protect their self-diagnoses of normal teenage emotions is just annoying.
On the other hand, for those who truly do suffer from mental illness, I do not see something wrong with them having a joke. For me, to make light at times of my OCD and bipolar–of exactly how much they affect my life–helps me keep myself in perspective and helps me stay positive about the fact that I am never going to be cured. I can cope, get help and manage my mental illnesses, but I’ll never be cured. There’s no hope of that. And to really think about that is rather depressing. So I joke about myself to lighten the mood for myself, and to make myself remember that the world does not end…that I can function and be a productive member of society, even if I am odd in certain ways.
And yet I’ve seen dozens of people lambast others with diagnoses, who are clearly not teenagers just playing for attention, for choosing to joke at times to help cope with what they deal with on a daily basis. I guess it just disheartens me, because I know how much a lighthearted joke on occasion helps me feel normal. It is so rare that I ever get to feel that way, that my little jests at myself help me feel like I belong to society at large. Especially considering how little my friends and family really understand what I have, sometimes these jokes help them to see that I’m not just “crazy”, I’ve still got normalcy to me.
I know I’m probably in the minority there, because I really do not mind the jokes, and I use them to make my life feel a bit happier.
I guess this has just been weighing on me for a while, and I wanted to put my thoughts out there.
I have to hope that I’m not the only person out there who genuinely has a mental illness and will at least occasionally joke about it as a coping mechanism.