Mental Illness: we need to stop making it a social stigma

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Goaliebot, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. Goaliebot

    Goaliebot All Makes and Models

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    I'm taking this discussion out of MTME's thread as it didn't belong there, but it started something that has always deeply bothered me about this forum.

    Mental illness is real and kills so many people, especially young people.

    This forum is populated with a heavy demographic of young people, and people who often have social difficulties, let's be honest.

    I would wager there is also a higher-than-average incidence of mental illness in this population than in the rest of society, but even if our fandom has the same rates as the rest of society, it's anywhere from 1 in 3 to 1 in 5, depending on the research.

    And yet I keep encountering a disturbing trend here to either:

    1) Claim many types of recognized mental illnesses don't exist (Aspergers, Depression, Anxiety Disorders).

    2) Claim professional help isn't needed for mental illnesses like depression.

    3) Opposite to #1 and #2 (but in a strange way actually fueling them), people who self diagnose incorrectly with mental illnesses like OCD and Aspergers. This actually makes #1 and #2 worse.


    But here are some facts you need to be aware of as you state things in front of all the people silently reading what you say in here:

    1) The stigma surrounding mental illness kills.

    People suffering from undiagnosed mental illness are already under significant social pressure to "shut up and deal with it" and "its all in your head". They are pushed away from seeking professional help.

    In an overwhelming majority of cases, this leads to destructive behavior (ruing their lives) and in far too many cases, suicidal tendencies.

    Stigma

    The social stigma associated with mental disorders is a widespread problem. Some people believe those with serious mental illnesses cannot recover, or are to blame for problems.[109] The US Surgeon General stated in 1999 that: "Powerful and pervasive, stigma prevents people from acknowledging their own mental health problems, much less disclosing them to others."[110]


    When you post things that foster or promote this stigma, you are pushing readers away from seeking professional help. If they have a mental illness like clinical depression or worse, you are effectively pushing them down a road towards suicide.

    2) While some mental illnesses are stupidly self-diagnosed and everyone claims to have them, that does not mean the illnesses themselves are not real and dangerous to those that actually have them.


    We all know it's cool on the net to claim you have Aspergers because you're socially awkward and/or want to post jerky things. These people are inevitably self-diagnosed or were badly diagnosed by a professional not doing their job properly. Here on the TF forums a lot of people claim to have OCD about collecting, though I'd say 9/10 of people on here who claim that are just bullcrapping and don't know what real OCD is (hint: real OCD is life-wrecking and miserable).

    But the fact that there are so many idiots out there self-diagnosing, AND/OR the fact that some professionals over-diagnose; these things don't magically make real Aspergers/OCD/depression not exist.

    They exist (just in much lower numbers) and need treatment.


    3) Real mental illness is not weakness.

    It's chemicals. It's no different than any other illness, it just exists in the brain instead of another organ.

    Real mental illness is not weakness. It isn't something strong people are immune to. It isn't something to be ashamed of.


    4) Genuine mental illness requires professional, medical attention.

    Just like any other significant illness. You can't pray it away. You can't "just get over it".

    You need to seek medical help, no different than if you had heart disease or any other chronic illness.

    Now, professional medical help does not necessarily mean medication. It means proper diagnosis by a qualified professional, and then you and your doctor/therapist/psychologist create a treatment plan that works for you.

    If medication doesn't work for you, you try other things.

    Many mental illness treatments, whether they involve medication or not, also require cognitive behavior therapy or related therapy.

    If you want to try to create and use an all-natural plan, that's fine too.

    This isn't about pumping people full of pills, it's about proper diagnosis and a treatment plan based on science and medical knowledge, not on what friends or family think.


    These last points are for those out there suffering from mental illness:

    1) Seek professional help. Talk to your doctor.
    If he doesn't help, get another one. Some doctors sadly still believe the stigmas (especially older doctors). DON'T LISTEN TO NON-PROFESSIONALS, like forum members or friends/family who believe the stigmas and will tell you it's all in your head, or that you're weak. I recognize the irony that I am writing this as some random non-professional on a forum, by the way. :) 

    If you are religious, do NOT confuse the two. Mental illness is as real as heart disease - you can't pray it away, it isn't the devil at work. Just as you'd see a doctor if you had any other illness, god wants you to seek proper help for these illnesses too. That's why he gave us doctors and knowledge to heal ourselves.

    2) Don't be a victim.

    Too many with mental illness let it take over and define them. Fight. Manage it. Treat it. Work with your doctor/therapist/etc to get it under control and live a full life with it under control. Do not give in to victim mentality and hide in a dark room with a computer and blame everything on your illness. Get it treated, learn behavior and thought modification techniques, and overcome it. Every day will be a struggle, but never give in to the darkness or solitude mental illness tries to force on you.

    And NEVER blame yourself for having it. It's chemicals.

    -------

    tl:dr version:

    Mental illness is real and dangerous to those who have it, because untreated it leads to destructive behavior and suicidal tendencies.

    Just because it's over-diagnosed or self-diagnosed by idiots doesn't mean it isn't still real in those who actually do have it.

    People who actually do have mental illness need professional medical help to form a treatment plan (that may or may not involve medicine, therapy, etc).

    People who actually do have mental illness who don't seek professional medical help are at a dangerously higher risk of suicide or other forms of self-destructive death.

    If you post things that push people who genuinely have mental illness into not seeking professional help, you are pushing them down a very destructive path. It is dangerous advice to give.
     
  2. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Can't say I agree with everything in here (in fact, I'd argue that many of the positions offered in the OP are social sigmas & rooted in propaganda in themselves if I cared to), but it was definitely a good read, and definitely something worth spending a little time thinking about before jumping to conclusions and believing the 1st thing you hear or otherwise come across in your travels.

    +rep
     
  3. MetalRyde

    MetalRyde is an a-hole with a heart.

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    while i knew there was something wrong with me so many years ago. i did nothing about it because my mother and sister claimed that i was just doing it for attention.

    like i was purposely (sarcasm) saying that i saw things, heard things, did things like eat half a bologna sandwish for one day, not eat anything the next thing and then eat the other half the day after for 10 months stright. i lost 78 pounds i refuse to eat 3 days because i heard voices tell me 'the food is poison' 'there's maggots in the food' (i would hallucinate maggots in my taco) 'you'll go to hell if you eat that' over and over and over and over again.

    mom and sis still claimed i was just doing it for attention and look how much weight i lost!

    my dad had enough of it after he caught me trying to cut my toe nails with a knife.

    after being diagnosed with depression, bipolar and schizophrenia. i was given medication and therapy.
    and everything changed for the better. i was eating again. i went back to my hobbies, felt like me again.

    my dad was happy. mom and sis said 'see? it was just a phase, he's ok now'. bitches, both of them.
     
  4. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

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    As someone who has actually been diagnosed with depression, and who has friends with various autism diagnoses, I can say I know what it's like to have real conditions dismissed or belittled by others. However, I can also say that I think self-diagnosis has been a bigger problem around here. More importantly, I can say that mental illness is not something to trot out in public as a free pass for bad behavior. If I overreact to someone here because of my depressive tendencies, that's still my issue, and if they call me out for acting like I have PMS, I'm not going to try to make them the bad guy for attacking the mentally ill.

    I will say I'd like to see people treat Daitarn Red a lot better though.
     
  5. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    You'd go to a doctor if you had problems with your heart. You'd take drugs for your heart and you wouldn't think anything of it. People wouldn't judge you if you were seeing a cardiologist or taking heart medication. Why should mental health be any different?
     
  6. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Well, its quite different because unlike many other health related problems (such as heart or body related things), mental issues are rarely as black & white, arguably to the point of where their diagnoses border more into beliefs than undisputed facts & science. It might not be as far on the other side as lets say Religion or sexually are (as much as I hate to use words that don't exist on TFW, they kinda illustrate the extreme that I'm going for here), but the brain is something that we're quite far away from understanding completely, so its no wonder this in itself continues to be a point of discussion. This extends into the issue of misdiagnoses, which only gets worse when so many of us are lead to believe that we're sick because we're not identical to another.


    @ Flamepanther: Oh definitely, and I really get the feeling that some of the people who make it a point to reply to him with snarky comments are doing so because they see him as an easy target or whatever, rather than because they're legitimately baffled or even offended by his seemingly off the wall comments.
     
  7. Dremare

    Dremare Had an Epiphany

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    I was diagnosed with Asperger's by three different doctors, so it makes me furious when people self-diagnose themselves with it, and use it as an excuse to be assholes. It really does.
     
  8. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

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    Absolutely agree.

    On the other hand, if some guy said "you guys should be nice to me and always let me have my way because WebMD says I'm dying of cancer and AIDS," you'd laugh him out of town.
     
  9. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Well, pretty much everyone has Assbergers or some self professed form of it these days (don't think there's really grounds for disputing this, just as everyone supposedly had ADD/ADHD in the 90's), so I usually just make it a point to be decent to everyone & go from there. If I happen to offend people through my honesty & punctuation then so be it (no amount of jugging my words or disclaimers will make us foolproof_, but the days where I actually get a kick out of scoring "one up" on somebody have long since passed, and hopefully the internet itself will follow suit before all of us need to surrender our PIDs & report to the Principle Office.

    (I'm sure at least one person will get that reference haha)
     
  10. Goaliebot

    Goaliebot All Makes and Models

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    It's a good point, folks, and one I tried to integrate into my first post there -> the self-diagnosers are making things much worse. Not only do they use it as an excuse to act badly, but the worst is they build the stigma of real mental illness because people get so sick of dealing with the self-diagnosed nitwits that they start to resent everyone who claims to have mental illness and worse, believe the mental illnesses don't exist.

    We need to maintain the line. Mental illnesses like Aspergers and Depression are real and dangerous, but YES there is a stupid number of people on the 'net pretending to have them. But the diseases are real and we can't fall into the trap of letting these self-diagnosing nitwits make us forget that.
     
  11. ABH1979

    ABH1979 Anonymous Bucket Head Moderator TFW2005 Supporter

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    Yeah, mental illness is a problem, but I just want to beat up psychos and freaks in the Batman Arkham Asylum/City games. Please don't take that away from me.
     
  12. Goaliebot

    Goaliebot All Makes and Models

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    Psycho-killers are still fair game :p 

    I actually finally just bought both those games (Arkham Asylum and Arkham City) - I understand I'm in for a real treat!
     
  13. ABH1979

    ABH1979 Anonymous Bucket Head Moderator TFW2005 Supporter

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    Yeah, I feel that way too, but I've actually seen real articles (not just online forum/blog posts) that really rip into the Arkham games and Batman comics, for the way the these (villainous) mental illness patients are beaten and abused.

    To those types I would say #1. It's not real. #2. When you become outraged over everything, you get less support. Try to tackle the real life issues, first.
     
  14. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

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    You did cover that, but I think it goes beyond what you said, somewhat. The self-diagnosers et al aren't just making a bad situation worse. Rather, I think they're a primary cause of the stigma in the first place. When people go around treating mental illness as an excuse for their actions, it's only natural that others will think of mental illness as exactly that: an excuse people make.

    That goes for people with a legitimate illness as well, but I've met very few people with actual conditions who like to wave them around and draw attention to them. This also means that when when someone starts preaching about their mental health, it's easy to guess that they're a self-diagnoser and usually be right. That probably accounts for a portion of the ridicule they get in response.
     
  15. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Well in regards to the misconceptions, I sadly don't see it ending very soon. For the bodily functions, there are gonna be variations, but most of them aren't going to be seen or even have a profound effect on how we are socially. This leaves less wiggle room in terms of whether or not we're in need of medicine, and thus we have less room for error when it comes to diagnosing people with broken legs who've just slept wrong.

    However for the mind, this runs & presents who we are as people in every aspect, and its above all else what makes us individuals. It's what sets us apart from every other species, every other person within our species, and its ultimately what makes us unique & able to evolve while retaining who we are. Not saying there isn't a line between being healthy & sick, but this line is definitely not easy to trace on paper, especially when it comes to what to trace it with & where it's going. Again, not trying to knock anything or really hammer a certain opinion into anyone's caboose, but I don't think the complexity of our helm can be up for debate.

    ... so yeah, this is really where the saying "different folks, different strokes" is hellapplicable, and not just for our taste in adult entertainment either. :D 
     
  16. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

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    Yeah, but to make use of your last quip there, you don't just reach out and stroke someone else who didn't ask for it. Some people do try to tell others that their diagnosed condition doesn't actually exist. In turn, people who have had this idea drilled into them often refuse to seek help, not because they think they don't need it, but becuase of what others think.
     
  17. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Yep. Contrary to some people's full metal belief, going for a reach around isn't always a good thing either, regardless of intent.
     
  18. Goaliebot

    Goaliebot All Makes and Models

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    It may well be the current primary, good point. Historically the other 2 causes were 1) pure old-timey backwards thinking and 2) misguided religious applications (I'm not attacking religion, just the mentality of using it to say mental illness isn't real that some types do).

    So those two are at play - the former is often what people absorb from their parents/grandparents on the topic**, and the latter is of course generally confined to only some pockets of religious folks.

    But you may well be right that today the self-diagnosed idiots have taken the #1 spot from those older two causes.

    [** You'd be amazed at how many young guys I know who were dismissive or disbelieving of mental illness and it turned out they were simply repeating what their own dads had always said on the topic, and of course their dads were repeating what their dads had said, etc.]
     
  19. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

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    Oh, I'm not dismissing that those are still around quite a lot. It's just that they seem to be weakening with each generation they pass to. I think the turning point in which cause is primary came when people started getting sentenced to anger management courses instead of jail time, etc. I remember hearing a lot of debates throughout the '80s and '90s about the clinicalization of criminal behavior and the decline of personal responsibility. It went along with rants about warning labels and frivolous lawsuits.
     
  20. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    This ties into another misconception surrounding mental health: that we don't understand it or somehow incorrectly understand it. While yes, mental health issues can be more complex and difficult to treat than other physical illnesses, many, such as depression, are well-studied and well understood from a scientific and physiological perspective. That medications can carry seemingly contradictory side-effects or that certain mixtures of medications must be tailored to individual patients to work properly is not unique to mental health issues, as many conditions and medication programs can carry the same problems, including immunological diseases to neurodegenerative disorders.

    What we need to do is "reboot" how we think about things like depression and mental illness, and recognize them as a medical condition, such that we can study them and treat them as such, and remove much of the stigma that still exists, which prevents people from seeking treatment or has a detrimental effect on their recovery. In terms of self-diagnosis and overdiagnosis, this again ties into mental illness as a medical condition, as most people wouldn't take a person who self-diagnosed themselves with a heart murmor or hepatitis seriously. And you wouldn't listen to someone other than a doctor telling you that you were fine if you felt you weren't.
     

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