It takes a lot to offend me.
Everyone knows I love the f-word.
So clearly off color language doesn’t bother me.
While I don’t think name calling is a good thing, I’m not really bothered by that either.
Call me a bitch if you want. Call me an asshole.
While you’re at it, go for the big one and call me a C U Next Tuesday.
I don’t give a flying fuck.
As far as I’m concerned, it takes one to know one.
But there is something that bothers me. A lot. And it’s not okay.
Mental illness is not a joke.
Today I read an insult thrown by a so-called adult on Facebook.
You may want to consider visiting a mental health professional.
It was not said in jest. It was not said by one friend to another.
It was a pot shot and it was meant to be hurtful.
The thing is, I’m not sure it was all that hurtful to the person at whom it was aimed.
But it was hurtful to me. I’m sure it was hurtful to anyone who has ever struggled with mental illness or anyone who has a family member who has ever struggled with mental illness.
And those comments are hurtful to society.
Because we, as a society, do not take mental illness seriously.
Or we are embarrassed by it. Ashamed.
And we don’t talk about it.
I don’t get this.
I’m no doctor or statistician.
But I would wager large amounts of money that more people are affected by mental illness than any other illness on the planet.
I don’t really know anyone who hasn’t had a personal experience with some sort of mental illness.
So I don’t understand why people are still so hesitant to talk about their battles with depression or borderline personality disorder or bipolarism or whatever.
Mental illness doesn’t affect a specific section of the population.
Rich people, poor people, skinny people, fat people, black people, white people, old people, young people, and a whole shitload of famous people struggle with mental illness.
We are all affected by it yet none of us really talk about it!
And I believe this has a lot to do with ignorant comments like that one I read on Facebook today.
Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of.
I’ve been very open about my own battles with it.
In the last twenty years I have been in three different psych wards in three different hospitals.
I have OD’d on drugs and attempted suicide on more than one occasion.
I have spent many weeks unable to be a productive member of society.
This has not been by choice.
It’s not fun, and it’s no way to live.
I have spent thousands of hours with dozens of therapists and social workers and licensed nurse practitioners and psychiatrists.
I’d say that today though, I’m in depression remission.
I worked my ass off to get my brain healthy. And I know the warning signs now.
I do all the things I need to do so I never end up in the hospital again.
People do not choose to have a mental illness.
It happens. Shit happens.
Sometimes your head starts out wired the wrong way.
Other times some crazy shit happens to you throughout the course of your life and it just does a number on your brain.
It’s not really any different than cancer.
Most people who have cancer aren’t born with it.
It develops. Over time. Although there are many cases of cancer that do develop because you did some really dumb stuff. Avoidable cases of cancer.
You can smoke a pack or two a day and get lung cancer because of it.
You can spend your twenties in a tanning bed and get skin cancer as a result.
But no one makes light of cancer no matter how you get it.
Because cancer is a legitimate illness, right?
And it can be fatal.
Um, so can depression.
People diagnosed with cancer don’t keep it a secret.
Even if they smoked themselves into oblivion and got lung cancer as a result, they don’t keep it a secret because they are ashamed. They go to a doctor and get treatment.
And people feel badly for them. But they don’t belittle them.
When ignorant idiots try to insult people by implying they have a mental illness, they are perpetuating the problems surrounding mental illness in this country.
People don’t get the help they need because of comments like that. And some of those people eventually kill themselves because of comments like that.
I’m not talking about people who are in a level-headed phase of life. In depression remission.
I’m talking about people who are in the throes of mental illness.
People who are depressed, or riddled with anxiety, or battling an eating disorder or whatever it is that is preventing them from thinking rationally.
Mental illness isn’t a joke. It’s quite serious, actually.
And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
But comments like the one I saw on Facebook today?
Well those sure as hell are.