Thursday, December 2, 2010
One common theme in my life since I came out as "Crazy" to be not so politically correct is Stigma I get from friends and loved ones. I am aware that many times in my life, my behaviors, and actions have given for good reason people in my life to pause and think, "Well Steven is Bipolar so I expect him to be a fuck up". This is a tendency that a lot of people roll into when they have a friend or loved one living with a mental illness.
The people around us tend to think that we will go bat shit crazy at every and any moment of stress or crisis. While yes sometimes we do react to stressors differently than "Earth People", we do not always fall apart when someone over cooks our bacon, or tofu for you vegan freaks out there. I have and have had friends who will talk to me like I am egg rolling on the edge of the countertop just about to fall. I to have faced to assumption that my illnesses effects stops me from making any sound decisions in my life.
These behaviors from people around us can lead us to closet our illness and not talk openly about them. So many other people I know who live every day with a mental illness will always mention this one nag that grates on them worse than Nancy Grace on 5 cans of 4Loco. " Have you taken your meds?"
While I understand the worry and concern comes from a loving place, it usually seems like when ever we get excited about something or sad about something, someone, somewhere will ask us about our meds. Even when taking meds our moods may change, our illness may manifest in different ways, but it does not mean we are advancing in our illness or facing Thumper in the rabbithole.
Being open about Mental Illness brings on whole new sets of Stigma, and a lot of it comes from a loving place. Yes when I am manic I get sewing machine legs, I also get it when I am excited, or nervous. Same with my rapid talking. It comes and goes with my mood and will become pronounced when I am riding my Manic Unicorn to Fruitloopville.
If someone you know is living with a mental illness, yes look out for them, I appreciate it when it done for me. But try and resist the "Have you taken your meds" line of questioning. It is a pet peeve of most of us with a mental illness. Also to others out there try and not assume that because we live with a mental illness that our cognitive skills are less than yours. I am lucky to have amazing people in my life who see me not me with a illness. That is the most difficult thing for anyone who knows someone with a serious mental illness to do, is to see the person, not the person with a disease. I am also blessed to have a best friend who sees me as me.