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Stigma and Ignorance

(32 Posts)
KissesBreakingWave Mon 04-Nov-13 21:04:45

Right, need some help with homework. Next week I'm compering (compere: from the French for 'loudmouth') a benefit gig in aid of Rethink, the mental health charity. Quite a varied bill of acts, small and intimate venue, and I'd like to tie it all together with the general theme of mental health.

And recently, in conversation with other folks with MH issues, I got to hear about some of the stigma that goes with it. And I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have my between-the-acts bits be getting some comedy out of the stupid, ignorant crap people come out with about mental health.

Thing is, I don't get much of it. I'm a big lad, busting out all over with White Male Privilege, and highly educated and articulate. People tend to watch what they say.

So, thinks I, to get some material I can mock, I thought I'd ask here:

What's the most idiotic, patronising or bigoted rubbish you've had said to you about your Mental Health Problems? I'll try out the sarcasm and mockery here for you general entertainment.

Brittapie Mon 04-Nov-13 21:10:13

"You don't look like you would have needed hospital!"

From a mental health nurse.

Worst thing was, I had my hair in pins under a scarf and dyed bright orange because I was going to a swing dance the next day dressed as a lion. I must have looked pretty odd...

KissesBreakingWave Mon 04-Nov-13 21:15:17

Right. Because everyone who needs hospitalisation for Mental Health issues looks exactly like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Also, you turned up for an appointment with a Mental Health Professional partway into dressing as a large predatory animal and weren't immediately ushered on to a ward why?

Brittapie Mon 04-Nov-13 21:16:21

"Don't take your meds, they are just big pharma trying to oppress your creativity!"

"I got depressed once, I just exercised and ate healthily and it went away, I was too strong to need meds"

"It's probably the meds making you ill"

"Everyone gets mood swings, we just have to get on with life, we don't get the luxury of sitting around doing nothing"

"How are you still allowed your children if you really are mentally ill?"

I have LOADS.

KissesBreakingWave Mon 04-Nov-13 21:25:15

If I was getting that, I'd be reversing the statistics on violent crime by and against the mentally ill single handed...

Shakey1500 Mon 04-Nov-13 21:37:33

Not so much bigoted et al however...

Whilst on a psychiatric ward (as a patient obviously), my Mum visited. I absolutely hated being there and felt that, whilst I knew I needed to be somewhere, that this place certainly wasn't it. Mum is old school and was convinced that it was the best place, the doctors knew what they were doing etc.

Cue a nurse walking passed and the following (short) conversation ensued..

Nurse- Everything ok? Feeling alright?
Me- No actually, I'm really not
Nurse- Good...good.

And off he went.

Same hospital, I was attacked by fellow patient. After complaining to the Nurses was asked "Have you had your meds?" the inference being that it couldn't possibly have happened and I must have imagined it angry

Break a leg for the gig smile

KissesBreakingWave Mon 04-Nov-13 21:55:02

Oh dear, yes. I get the 'have you had your meds?' one sometimes, too. Because apparently I can't be cheerful, enthusiastic and fired up about an idea, it's got to be an EPISODE.

Shakey1500 Mon 04-Nov-13 22:00:50

Also does the crap "music therapy" count towards patronising?

I mean seriously does anyone with an ounce of sense think that sat in a room shaking a margarine (not even proper butter shock ) tub filled with rice is going to have any single, solitary effect what-so-bloody-ever?

I kid ye not.

Brittapie Mon 04-Nov-13 22:16:47

Oh! If I express ANY plan for the future, at least two members of my family (and it used to be my husband too, but I divorced him...) will say:

"Just concentrate on getting better, there is no need to push yourself."

Like a) they think that one day I will magically stop having a long term severe mental illness, b) they think that a short stint of volunteering, or tidying up more, or cooking better food, or studying, or even getting a part time job is such a huge undertaking for poor old mental me, c) like I don't know my own limits, d) that I would even listen to them anyway, if I was losing it and E) YES THERE IS A NEED TO PUSH MYSELF A LITTLE BIT, if I'm not going to resign myself to a lifetime of daytime tv and basic literacy classes.

Brittapie Mon 04-Nov-13 22:21:32

It all seems to fall into two groups. The not believing in mental illness group and the being terrified of mental illness group.

So I'm either lounging about, seeming really energetic and outgoing for someone that is apparently ill - I seem to have more energy than even normal people sometimes! Or possibly being made to take pills I don't need by nasty big pharma.

Or I should be either in hospital or sat indoors full of sedatives,maybe going to the odd support group, and resigned to that for the rest of my life.

Brittapie Mon 04-Nov-13 22:29:28

The best ones are when they manage to fit in both groups.

"I suffer from mental illness"

"Oh, I got depressed once. You should try eating more green leafy veg and getting fresh air. The pills just make you more ill and there is no need to not work."

I have bipolar disorder

"Oh, I think I have that! Sometimes I feel quite sad, but then other times I'm cheerful. I just make sure to cut down on coffee and I'm fine, I don't need my brain controlling"

"Actually, if I stopped the pills or tried to live a completely normal life I would probably end up manic, hallucinating and in hospital fairly quickly"

"PANIC!!!"

KissesBreakingWave Mon 04-Nov-13 22:37:59

I sometimes get the fear one. But then I'm over six foot, work out a lot (helps with the depressive phases) and have a big facial scar and usually a beard.

I probably didn't help myself any in the days when I cut about with a buzz-cut hair...

ArtemisiaofCaria Mon 04-Nov-13 23:11:18

Yes, the worst for me is when people say that psychopharmaceuticals are made up, don't work, by quacks for the gullible. My own family are ashamed that I have to take meds. NOT ashamed of my illness, of the medication for the illness.

KissesBreakingWave Tue 05-Nov-13 00:57:03

Well, that 'big pharma conspiracy' business is a thing I can rant about for hours.

Picture me with bared teeth. It's the same shape as a smile.

AdmiralData Tue 12-Nov-13 15:37:20

My lovely lovely (verily I cannot say this enough) grandfather in law (after I explained that my excessive sweating was caused by 'bad nerves') said 'Oh you would never tell from looking at you'. That actually cheered me up because I tend to think that people think I 'look mental'. I am contemplating doing my hair a la Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.

KissesBreakingWave Tue 12-Nov-13 23:52:54

Yeah, nobody thinks I look mental either. Jack Nicholson has a lot to answer for.

Juneywoony Wed 13-Nov-13 17:59:30

On a psych unit when I was 18 (I did look young for my age then) another patients visitor literally pointed at me and said "what is that little girl doing in here and what has she possibly got to be depressed about"

Yer I was having a whale of a time, especially enjoying the ECT twice weekly ffs! Still pisses me off 18 years later, wish I could have thought of some great retort but I was too god dam ill

SaucyJack Wed 13-Nov-13 21:32:43

"Didn't that hurt?!"

Yes, dickhead, that was the point.

Juneywoony Thu 14-Nov-13 07:25:08

Another that happened just recently.

I was explaining to somebody that I have bipolar.

Person: " But you have a lovely husband and two beautiful kids you should be happy"

Me: "Hmmm yes I know but would you still say that to me if I had Diabetes, would the fact I had a lovely husband and kids stop me from having diabetes?

Person: Blank stare

KissesBreakingWave Thu 14-Nov-13 09:19:51

grin - nice comeback!

MaryShelley Thu 14-Nov-13 09:26:52

I was off work last yr for 4 weeks with anxiety and depression - all very secretive and little mention made.

had 2 weeks off recently with an injured foot - flowers were delivered!

Brittapie Thu 14-Nov-13 16:19:01

"I bet it's quite nice being bipolar - you must get loads done!"

Yes. Loads of pacing, wriggling, bouncing, babbling, walking (often in completely inappropriate clothing, and for miles), inappropriate behaviour, spending money, seeing things, jumping at every little sound that is and isn't there, writing down and staying up late into the night planning ideas that are later revealed to be bizarre shite, pointless showing off, dressing like an idiot and doing a million things at once, badly. grin

LEMisafucker Thu 14-Nov-13 16:44:13

Have a look on "time to talk" on facebook, its a whole site devoted to blowing open the whole stigma of MH. I lost a job due to anxiety and lack of support.

KissesBreakingWave Fri 15-Nov-13 12:15:32

Thanks for all your stories, folks. Used a few of them, got some laughs, and the gig raised £106 for rethink and got a fair few people to take some of their literature with them.

To my brother by his GP upon making a joke 'you can't be depressed you made a joke'.

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