Daily Archives: March 28, 2015

stigma isn’t just an insult

Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labelled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

While the Germanwings crash story generates more stigma against people with mental illnesses, it’s important to look at the meaning and ramifications of stigma, as well as some strategies to decrease it.


I work hard, constantly get stellar reviews, and hardly ever take a day off. I have always shown up earlier and left later than most, and am confident that despite the extra work it requires, I have never once let my mental health affect my job.
But I still feel like I can’t tell anyone.
Why I keep my bipolar disorder secret at work

Most research into the understanding of stigma has been focussed at the population level, but stigma is an essentially individual and interpersonal process.
Time for a cultural shift

“1in4 people, like me, have a mental health problem. Many more people have a problem with that.”
Stephen Fry on mental health stigma

Though he is a mental health advocate, Corrigan encourages the mentally ill to carefully consider whether they want to “come out” to others. Once you are out it is hard to get back in, so you should test the waters. “You might say to somebody, ‘Hey, did you see ER? Sally Field came out as bipolar. What did you think of that?’ If they say, ‘That’s just political correctness, I hate those people,’ then that is someone you should not tell.”
Avoiding the stigma

The latest survey also confirmed that social stigma continues to dictate many people’s attitudes toward mental illness – 44 percent believe people with manic depression are often violent, and another 25 percent think people who have mood disorders, or who have manic-depressive illness, are very different than others. (NAMI)

Your irritating mother-in-law? She may just be irritating.
Bipolar is not a new word for just darn unpleasant

“certain period of my life that my spirit was broke by repeated losses and disasters, which threatened, and indeed effected the utter ruin of my fortune … in this wretched state, the recollection of which makes me yet shudder, I hung my harp on the willow trees, except in some lucid intervals … ”
Robert Burns‘ suspected bipolar used to fight stigma

“Where does stigma stand now? Over the past 10 years we have found signs of progress in bringing bipolar disorder out of the shadows.”
Bipolar & stigma – let there be light

“She’s a psycho. You’ve got to get her out of here,” a supervisor said.
An open letter against the stigma of bipolar and depression

“Those ‘lithium psychos’ look at me with those eyes! Those eyes!”
Smothering the stigma


Bipolar babe stomping out stigma
Stigma fighters – real people living with mental illness.
Living With the Stigma of Mental Illness: One Woman’s Journey
I think he’s like bipolar or something.
How much did stigma harm Robin Williams?
Online Bipolar Assessment Quiz Creating Mental Health Stigma
Thriving professionals with bipolar
Facebook group: bipolar awareness – stop the stigma.
Bipolar Disorder Stigma, Suicide & Families: 58min webinar.

a posi+ive linkdump

Just because I’m sceptical doesn’t mean I’m right. It gets better, you got this etc etc. Ahem. Just to prove that I am still me, here is a video called the stigma of thinking positive. Now without further ado(n’t), here is the happy …

Here’s a great piece: Why a World Bipolar Day? Don’t forget it’s on the 30th.

Bipolar taught me that I’m a gift not a burden – a letter to bipolar.
bp magazine celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Stigmatized Schizophrenia gets a rebrand.
Beth Hart battled bipolar.
Bipolar has its upside, patients say.
The best things in my life from having bipolar – finding optimism.
This is what mental illness actually looks like. “Putting A Face on Mental Illness,” illustrates the humanity of mentally ill people—making them subjects, not objects of derision, scorn and misunderstanding.
Bill Oddie: my family values.


Life and work of Derek Hess examined in a new film.

“My hope is that the film inspires people to greatness through Derek’s life story. I also hope the film gives people with mental illness a bit of comfort in the fact that bipolar disorder is not a disease that has to make you a societal pariah, but rather a personal affliction that can be channeled as a gift, and can propel you into greatness. The film creates a strong link between creativity and bipolar disorder, I feel the film will help educate people on the effects of biploar disorder and how a diagnosis of the disease is not necessarily a weakness. But can be channeled into a gift and leveraged as a strength. Alleviating the stigma of mental illness through dynamic storytelling and a relatable subject.”
Nick Cavalier

The Harvard Bipolar Program leader, Dr. Sachs, says, “here’s your exercise program: go to the door, look at your watch. Walk 7.5 minutes in any direction, then turn around and walk home. Do that 5 days a week at least.” source

While it may sound surprising to put “bipolar” and “positive” in the same sentence, an analysis published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in February 2011 found that having bipolar disorder may enhance “certain specific psychological characteristics … that are generally viewed as valuable and beneficial morally or socially.” source

Why the Trans Community Needs to Ban the Word “Transtrender” for Good

The other day, I was called a “transtrender” by a trans woman who refused to acknowledge my gender identity because I have, up until this point, not hormonally transitioned.

Because the only thing that determines your gender identity is, you know, hormones (sarcasm).

A “transtrender” refers to a person who identifies as transgender because they think it’s cool to do so. This particular trans reader insisted that I was not a “true” trans person, and that I claim this identity only because it’s the trendy thing to do.

This isn’t the first time my transness has been called into question, but there’s something particularly sinister about this word that made me angry.

Here’s the funny (and sad) thing about a trans person calling me a transtrender: They aren’t just hurting me. They’re hurting our community, and undermining our cause.

There’s a lot of problematic implications that go with the term “transtrender.” It implies, for example, that a person’s gender identity is for outsiders to decide. It suggests that there is only one way to transition. It marginalizes a significant number of trans folks who cannot access or do not want to medically transition. And further, it closets trans people who may feel fearful of rejection by the community.

It says to cis and trans people alike, “Your gender identity is for me to decide, not you. And if I don’t like what I see, I don’t have to acknowledge your truth.”

Hm. Sound familiar?

This is funny to me because this the exact same thing that we, as trans folks, are fighting against. We’ve had gender, incorrectly, imposed upon us from birth. Aren’t we fighting for the ability to live our truth and express our (a)gender without outsiders forcing us into roles without our consent?

“Transtrender” is a perfect example of the hypocrisy that I’ve encountered in the trans community from time to time. We don’t want others to dictate what our gender identities are, but we’ll ostracize other trans people and invalidate them because they don’t fit into our newer, shinier boxes. We don’t want to be misgendered, but we’ll misgender other trans people because their transition looks different from ours.

We don’t want to be told our identity is a phase, a trend, or a lie, but we’ll turn to our trans siblings and tell them all of those things without batting an eye.

If trans liberation is just a duplication of the oppression I was facing before – being told to express my gender on someone else’s terms, to someone else’s specifications – I’ll pass, thanks.

If trans liberation is putting each other down and invalidating our identities because we don’t want hormones, we don’t need hormones, we can’t afford hormones, or we aren’t ready for hormones – I’ll pass, thanks.

If trans liberation is letting outsiders tell us what our gender is, creating new restrictive boxes instead of getting rid of the boxes altogether – I’ll pass, thanks.

If trans liberation is creating hierarchies in our community, measuring someone’s worth on the basis of what (often inaccessible) medical interventions they’ve accrued – I’ll pass, thanks.

If trans liberation is conforming to a certain idea of what gender should look like – yeah, I’ll pass, thank you very much.

And if trans liberation means excluding some trans people and including others, finding new ways to marginalize people who don’t fit into our idea of what transition should look like – you can take your liberation and shove it.

The trans community doesn’t need gatekeepers who get to decide who is “trans enough” and who is not. We are all trans enough, and our truths are for us to declare and decide.

If we, as a community, are asking the world to respect our identities, it is hypocritical to disrespect the identities of others in our community. And if we, as a community, are asking for the freedom to express our (a)gender in whatever way feels authentic, we must respect the journeys that our other trans siblings are on, regardless of how similar or dissimilar to our own they might look.

I don’t owe it to anyone to explain my reasons for not yet taking testosterone. I don’t owe it to anyone to justify my reasons for not pursuing surgery at this time. My transition is not a show or an exhibition that exists for the pleasure and satisfaction of other people.

My body is not public property – it’s not a public spectacle for people to objectify and misgender. It’s not a blueprint for you to impose your outdated ideas of what a transition should look like. And it’s not a lump of clay that you get to mold into something that makes you feel more comfortable.

My body is mine. And further, my legitimacy and validity as a trans person is not contingent on what my body looks like on any given day.

“Transtrender” is a word no person in this community should ever use or condone. Someone should douse it in gasoline, set it on fire, and let it burn (metaphorically, of course).

It is used, violently, to invalidate and undermine the identities of trans people. And when we invalidate the identities of our siblings, we give cis people permission to do the same to all of us.

My trans liberation looks like this: A community that welcomes, respects, validates, and uplifts everyone who finds a home there. And a world that, regardless of our bodies and regardless of our journeys, lets us reclaim ownership of our identities and our bodies.

Because if we tell our trans siblings that their identities do not belong to them, we perpetuate a culture where the naming and claiming of our identities belongs to someone else.

And I promise you, that is not liberation. That is not progress.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s where we started.

Sam Dylan Finch is a queer activist and feminist writer, based in the SF Bay. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community. When he isn’t writing, he’s probably eating takeout and dancing to Taylor Swift.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr

I Don’t Have A Perforated Uterus And Other Stories From My Womb

I don’t have a perforated uterus. My IUD did not fall out. I’m not pregnant. There isn’t a hunk of levonorgestrel-laced plastic trashing my entrails and burrowing through my abdominal wall. Theses occurrences are extremely rare and I know that now and I knew it two nights ago when I went on a fishing expedition looking for the part of my IUD that chills outside of my cervix that I’m supposed to be able to feel. I couldn’t find it. And I had a tummy ache. Like a really bad one. So, naturally, I assumed I wouldn’t survive the night and would hemorrhage to death in my sleep, the thought of which did not prompt me to go to an emergency room because by that point I was already stoned and being stoned in the ER sounded really, really boring. Clearly, my decision making skills are top notch. And people still occasionally give me shit about the fact that I never want to be a parent. Like people who actually know me.

I’ve never been pregnant, as far as I know. If I ever have been pregnant, the thing peaced out before I knew it was even there, but that scenario seems pretty unlikely, not just because it’s unlikely for anyone, but because, from the get go, I’ve always been super on top of my contraception. I have never wanted to be pregnant. And I decided I didn’t want kids once I was old enough to understand that not everybody will or should be a parent one day. I think I was about 15 when I made that decision for real.

There are a lot of reasons I don’t want children, only one of which is related to my bipolar. But that’s worth talking about because it’s an issue that a lot of women face. Many women with bipolar want and have children. Many other women are advised not to. Assuming you’re working with a competent doctor and are willing to shoulder the extra burdens mentally ill pregnant women face, you can have bipolar and a kid. Lots of people have done it. Shame on any doctor who dashes the hopes of a would-be mom solely because she has a mood disorder.

But I do wonder what it’s like. I mean, I’m a biological female with a female gender identity and, now and then, I wonder what it’s like to be pregnant. I wonder what it’s like to give birth. These are experiences many women hold dear, and part of me is curious to understand, fundamentally, why. But curiosity is not a good enough reason to get knocked up, so my curiosities will remain curiosities forever because, once you’re done glowing or beaming or whatever pregnant chicks are supposed to do, you have to take care of this (temporarily super helpless) human being for the rest of your life and I don’t want that for myself, nor do I want it for the unlucky hypothetical I’d be squeezing out. Over the last several months, I’ve been trying to acquaint myself with my weaknesses so I can address them rather than ignore them, and what that exercise has done, among other things, is reinforce my understanding that I would not make a suitable parent. I’d go so far as to deem it unethical for me to raise a child. Babysitting is one thing, but being responsible for a kid’s well-being, moral and emotional development, education and physical health from birth until self-sufficiency is not something of which I feel I’m capable or even willing to do.

But, like I said, some women do do it. I’m pretty interested to know about those experiences. How’d you deal with your meds? All my meds are Category C which, as far as I know, falls under the umbrella of: these have the potential to harm your unborn kid pretty seriously, but you might have no choice but to take them, so roll the dice. As far as exposing a kid to my moods and my self-destructive behaviors once it’s born, that just seems really unfair. I mean, I feel bad for a lot of the adults who have to put up with some of the wackier shit I do, I wouldn’t want to force a developing child to see me be me on a daily basis and have to explain repeatedly why I act the way I do. I’m simply not up to the task.

But maybe you are. Are you? Did you do it? Tell me what it was like in the comments. No two experiences (with pregnancy or with bipolar) are exactly alike and I spent most of yesterday thinking about my baby-making equipment, so it’s got me thinking about it. Share!


Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, contraception, hypochondria, IUD, marijuana, mental illness, no children, parenting, pregnancy, reproductive health, weaknesses, women

The problem isn’t if the Germanwings pilot had a mental illness, it’s why he hid it

Finally – something worth reading on the subject of the Germanwings crash and mental illness.

(Excerpts from article & link at the end.)

“Even if we had more information, without having a detailed case history or hearing from a psychologist who examined him, we can’t make any assumptions about what happened or what was going on with this individual,” Ballard says.

Mental illness is common. (For instance, more than 350 million people worldwide experience depression.) But there is no evidence linking it to homicidal actions or tendencies. Only 3% to 5% of “violent acts” are committed by those with mental illness.

In fact, people with severe mental illness are more than 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.

Ballard says accidents or issues related to pilot mental illness are “exceptionally rare.”

We don’t know, and may never know, why Lubitz hid his condition or whether that played a role in the crash. Yet, we do know that stigma surrounding mental illness is pervasive and may have kept Lubitz from reporting his struggles.

Some conditions that can impair judgment disqualify a pilot, including an established medical history of severe personality disorder; psychosis involving delusions, hallucinations or disorganized behavior; or bipolar disorder.

Unfortunately, the speculation about the role of Lubitz’s condition may now put intense pressure on pilots worldwide to conceal their experiences with a mental disorder.

No doubt many who experience mental illness are familiar with this feeling. Each time a mass murder takes place, public judgment quickly focuses on disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression.

The reaction is so immediate and so intense that it leaves no room for a more nuanced or complicated understanding of how mental illness actually affects a person. Nor does it recognize that most people are successfully treated for their conditions. Instead, Ballard says, the “disease, disorder, dysfunction” of mental illness appear to offer a plausible explanation for an unthinkable tragedy.
No matter what investigators discover about Lubitz’s psychiatric condition, this solemn occasion is an opportunity to rethink the way we talk about tragedy and mental illness so that it reflects more than just an obsession with a diagnosis.

“We need to create an environment,” says Ballard, “where we can have conversations about health that include the whole person — mental and physical.”


Germanwings 9525: More news


Well they found out that the German airline copilot was having vision problems as well as unspecified psychiatric problems. Both of which he had hidden from the airlines. And he locked the Captain out of the cockpit, and according to French authorities, purposely crashed the plane into the Alps. Still nothing definitive, but the pieces are being put together and it looks like he did crash the plane on purpose. Dismayed and upset beyond belief over this. Why did he not get the help he needed? If he was going to a psychiatrist and had voiced any of his plans, why were the aviation authorities not notified? Or perhaps he didn’t say anything to anyone. He had a girlfriend, did she know anything? How can such a disaster be prevented? Mental illness questionnaires for pilots and co pilots? He was 27 years old, he had his whole life ahead of him, he was apparently a good pilot who loved flying. What would make someone like that do something like this? And taking 149 people with him, that is the most unconscionable part for me. I mean to end your own life is horrendous enough, but to take 149 people to their death with you? I don’t understand. Mental illness is difficult enough to tolerate on a personal level, but when it happens like this in a horrible public way and to people who are innocent bystanders, it is very hard to accept. And of course, then, people’s fear of mentally ill people increases. And so the stigma increases leading to less honesty and possibly even treatment for the mentally ill.

We take medications, we go to psychiatrists. Sometimes these very medications can make people psychotic (out of touch with reality, not a good thing), sometimes the doctors can put us on wrong medications or the wrong doses. Sometimes the doctors can be sexually, physically, verbally abusive or harassing towards their patients. Yes these are among the difficulties of having a mental illness. But none of these explains or excuses what happened with the Germanwings airliner. That was bad, just plain bad. I hope there is some way found that can prevent these sorts of things. I hope there are better treatments and screenings also found so these things can be prevented. I hope that stigma is also banished. This would make it easier for people to be truthful about their mental illness, and not hide or not get treatment.

Just some of my thoughts, I’m having trouble with this awful thing that happened.


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This Is How You Freak Out Someone With Mental Issues

 ..…….Send a Bipolar Type I with psychotic features, PTSD, Panic Attacks, Anxiety with and without Agoraphobia a cessation of disability benefits because some bureaucratic idiot determined you had improved medically and were physically able to work. For crying out loud, people at the SSA, I did not file for disability for medical/physical reasons. I applied […]

Manic Depressive Mommy

***Yes,I know,it hasn’t been called manic depression in years. It is now bipolar disorder and NOT a mood disorder. Frankly,the DSM would rewrite traffic laws every year so that green lights mean slow down, red means go, and yellow means stop. They confuse and muddle everything. Proof is how borderline pretty much mimics bipolar in their diagnostic manual. Pfff. Manic depressive is a better description.
*****And no,this post is not just for bipolar moms.I can’t speak as a dad because ya know, I’m not one and won’t be arrogant enough to encompass their experience as a replica of my own. The gist is the same. Parenting with mental illness presents a whole new set of challenges.

Perhaps the MOST infuriating thing I’ve read all week is “mentally ill people should not have kids.”
It’s an ignorant statement.
Look at Dahmer and Bundy. They had normal upbringings and still…prolific serial killers no one even suspected. Could their parents have predicted they’d be psycho/sociopaths and avoided reproduction? Hardly.
Is it difficult to be a parent with a mental illness?
Hells yeah.
But probably not for the reasons most would think.
Is it possible a mentally ill person could fall victim to a dangerous aspect of their disorder thus rendering them an ineffective or dangerous parent?
Same goes for people without mental illness. Some people are shit parents. And some, try as they might, just can’t handle it. It’s not exclusive to mental illness.

My biggest thorn in the paw is that my illness does affect my daughter. She’s missed birthday parties, school events, and a lot of other normal rites of childhood because Mommy was in bad shape.
She’s also experienced manic episodes with mommy in which I let 12 kids play at our house and we had water gun fights and silly string wars and every kid in the neighborhood thought I was amazing.
She’s seen both ends of the spectrum and in between.
I don’t feel good when she asks, “Why are you sad,Mommy?”
I mean, I don’t cry in front of her short of a pet’s death. I guess even kids can sense when someone’s smiles are fake.
What can you do to explain depression to anyone? I don’t know why I am sad. Wish I did.
And the shifts between happy funball mommy and paranoid pajama mom are confusing for her, I am sure. It’s like I’m two different people.
The wonderful thing about kids is…As long as you’re not abusive…They accept you and forgive. They don’t judge you for being less than perfect.

I think perhaps the absolute WORST part of my multi diagnosis that affects my mothering most is…Anxiety disorder.
Incessant noise. I have always been sensitive to it, it puts me on edge, makes me irritable, and I literally cover my ears at times because it’s excrutiating.
It’s annoying enough to non mentally ill parents when a kid insists on yapping constantly or bouncing a ball off a wall ten thousand times.
Amplify that by a trillion.
THAT is where my parenting is affected most.
I am already on edge with traffic sounds, people yelling, children terrorizing the streets, lawnmowers, et al.
I can always find a place or way to dull that.
But a child…Especially a strong willed needy one like mine with no concept of indoor voice so your eardrums are in a perpetual state of cringing…
Yeah, that’s the hardest part. Grueling at times.
And I am starting to think it’s that strain that’s got me so exhausted by the end of the day. I only have so much to give and this child…Only child syndrome. All attention must be on her at all times. And if you dare to ask for five minutes of peace, she will go out of her way to have a fit, create a scene, and get that five minutes of attention one way or another.
DO NOT get me wrong. I love my daughter. She is why I keep fighting these disorders so hard. She is smart and funny and rubs my tummy and sings “Soft Kitty” to me when I have cramps. She’s an awesome kid.
She is also high spirited. My friend raised three daughters as a single dad and he even finds my child overbearing and hard to handle in large doses. So while my disorder may multiply things for me, it isn’t just me.
They’re so much easier as newborns and early toddlers.
Once they get that personality of their own and start indulging their sociopathic natures because they haven’t been socially conditioned otherwise…That’s the tough part.
I am supposed to teach this child what is acceptable.
She fights me at every turn.
I am getting better at consistent parenting.
But an ever changing mind frame and the anxiety that rarely dies down….
It’s a challenge times a thousand.

I don’t see how this makes me a less adequate parent than any other. Parenting is a tough gig.
My kid gets to school everyday. She has food, clean clothes, shelter, toys. She gets playdates, goes to Sunday School (provided they come get her and bring her back, cos ya know mommy’s panic disorder doesn’t do crowds.) We read. She’s already learning to write in cursive because she saw me do it and got curious. She knows she is lived and is pretty much (to my chagrin) glued to my elbow every minute she is awake.
So if I can churn out a healthy happy kid who adores me..
Remind me again why mentally ill people shouldn’t have kids?

She’s made me a better person. Taught me what real love is. No strings attached. Total devotion.
Sometimes she makes me want to go hide in the closet with noise canceling headphones.
I know non mentally ill parents who feel the same way.

Parenting, like life, is a mixed bad of the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful.
I don’t think mentally ill people are any less worthy of having kids than people who are just…well, shitty.
My kid’s sperm donor walked out almost four years ago, hasn’t contributed to her existence at all, hasn’t asked to see her. Yet he’s got a job in management and everyone thinks he’s this saint while I am the bad guy. (Yeah, he sells it that good.)
Personally, I think he’s the one who shouldn’t have had kids. This is his third he’s basically stopped supporting or seeing. He’s not mentally ill.
I’ve been here the last six years, meeting my child’s needs however I can, to the best of my ability. In spite of my illnesses.

Personally, I think we should all be born sterile, then have to go get a shot to have kids when we are ready.
Any asshole can make a baby.
It takes a good person to be a real parent.