Mental Health Stigma

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I loathe Donald Trump and don’t want the man to be President. I’m in the process of publishing a list of 2016 reasons to oppose him. Trump’s followers have a tendency to ask for reasons why people don’t like them and they tend to dismiss them as having no basis in reality. They even suggest that Mr. Trump has been misunderstood by the media and by people who’ve watched his speeches live. This list will hopefully show that Donald Trump has been advocating for some pretty awful stuff throughout his career as a real-estate-developer-turned-reality-television-star-turned-presidential-candidate. His “gaffes” aren’t new, nor is his bigotry. And alleging a 43 year campaign by the media to smear him and ruin his chance at becoming President is a big clue that he is the one who is saying things that are not based in reality. 132. Opposed to a living wage, then for it, then opposed to it… I don’t even know if Trump knows how he feels about raising the minimum wage at this point. He can’t keep his story straight if asked twice within a twenty-four-to-forty-eight hour period. I wonder if he contemplates raising the minimum wage while sitting on his gold throne. 133. Blamed concept of climate change on China. He now claims his 2012 tweet about China creating a climate change hoax was a joke. You know, like his hacking joke and his “blood coming out of her whatever” joke. It’s a good thing that Donald didn’t go into stand-up comedy because his comedy career would deplete the world of its tomatoes. Anyway, the supposed joke is something that he’s referenced repeatedly, even before he joked about it. If it’s really a “joke”, and “it isn’t, then even he doesn’t get it. 134. Taxing Chinese exports. He wants to put a forty-five percent tariff on Chinese exports. In other news, the zombie form of George III is planning on suing Donald Trump for using his shtick of supporting outrageously high taxes. 135. His claim of beating China in trade deals. He backed it up by saying that he owns part of a Bank of American building that he got from China in a war. Actually, it was a result of a relationship between Hong Kong billionaires and Trump after they helped rescue him from having to file another bankruptcy on a property; when the property was sold without his support, Trump waged a legal battle with them. That chunk of the bank building he bragged about getting was something he had to settle for after he lost the legal battle. 136. Said US leaders would invite El Chapo to become a citizen. Someone in his family or his campaign needs to take his Twitter account away from him. 137. Calls himself the least racist. Considering his lack of understanding of how even the simplest things work, it’s unsurprising that he considers himself to not be a racist. 138. Bragged about a former employee calling him the least sexist boss she’d ever had. Apparently, he didn’t realize that she didn’t say that he wasn’t sexist, just that he was the least sexist. 139. Stacie J. While Trump wants to capitalize on his fame from The Apprentice in this election, it’s important to remember every single time he did something flat-out-wrong on that show. Case in point, his treatment of Stacie J. Other competitors portrayed her as mentally ill because she consulted a Magic 8-Ball toy before her team did their tasks. He called her a “loose cannon” and fired her, violating the Americans with Disability Act of 1990. He fired her simply for behaving in a way that was perceived as being due to mental illness. 140. Trump stigmatizing the mentally ill. This is a continuation of the Stacie J situation. Because of Stacie’s quirky behavior he said, “This comes from two people, Stacie, that don’t like each other at all. The first thing they’ve agreed on is that you’re crazy…Stacie, if you have a problem, I don’t want you running my companies.” This suggests that Trump refuses to hire or continue to employ mentally ill people. This is backed up by his use of ableist terms like “nut job”, “crazy” and “wacko” to demean Jeb Bush, Bernie Sanders, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Elizabeth Warren. He conflates mental illness with crime and said that gun-free zones that gun-free zones are “target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill.” A man who willingly tears down the mentally ill should not be in charge of a country where 25% of the population is believed to have a mental illness; and at least two-thirds are either unaware of it or are going untreated for it. 141. Painted himself as the hero of NYC in New York Times article in 1983. According to Trump, he alone is responsible for Grand Central being renovated and hotel jobs being saved. 142. Doesn’t like compromise. He told Life magazine in January 1989, “I’m not big on compromise. I understand compromise. Sometimes compromise is the right answer, but oftentimes compromise is the equivalent of defeat, and I don’t like being defeated.” 143. He suggested success/deal-making is genetic; that people who don’t succeed are afraid to or are “life’s losers”. In 1984, he told Lois Romano of the Washington Post, “Some people have an ability to negotiate. It’s an art you’re basically born with. You either have it or you don’t.” In The Art of the Deal, Trump said, “Most people think small, because most people are afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, afraid of winning.” He also said, “One of the problems when you become successful is that jealousy and envy inevitably follow. There are people—I categorize them as life’s losers—who get their sense of accomplishment and achievement from trying to stop others. As far as I’m concerned, if they had any real ability they wouldn’t be fighting me, they’d be doing something constructive themselves.” 144. […]

2016 Reasons to Oppose Trump: Reasons #132-158

Dear Amanda Lauren, It still disgusts me that you were so cruel in your @xojanedotcom piece about someone you once considered your friend. Not just to her, but to her family, to her true friends, to people with schizoaffective disorder, to the mental health community in general, and to the people who have friends or family with mental health issues. To claim that you were doing it to boost awareness is frightening. You didn’t boost awareness of anyone or anything except yourself or your hunger for fame. You clearly crave drama. Your other pieces seem to indicate this, as did, let’s not mince words, cyberstalking your former friend. You didn’t need to see what was being said about you. You chose to either because something in you felt more alive with this young woman as your adversary or you felt like her hate justified some level of hatred you have for yourself. The Internet allows people to give into self-destructive urges like that. You should work on that because it will not only be potentially harmful to your career, but it will push away people who make up your support system. You should apologize to everyone harmed by your words, especially the family of your friend. I hope they didn’t read your piece, but if they did, then I can only imagine how that impacted them. Did you even think about them? Did you bother to ask permission to memorialize their loved one as a lost cause? Or were you too busy concentrating on the fame and drama this kind of story might get you? Whatever your reason, it was the wrong thing to do. You should be ashamed not of sharing your name but of hurting people so viciously. You shouldn’t try advocating on behalf of people who have chronic illnesses who you see as being undeserving of life because they’re sick. Your words were not wanted and your advocacy is unneeded. Apologize. Learn from your mistakes and don’t do this again. The attention you got was not worth it. from Destigmatize Me via IFTTT

Dear Amanda Lauren

“You know how I don’t like to describe people or the things they do as evil? What she wrote was truly evil.” That was how I described Amanda Lauren’s essay describing an ex-friend’s life with schizoaffective disorder and that friend’s death to my mother. I had already ranted to my father and complained on social media. I couldn’t tell my mom that this total stranger was happy her mentally ill friend was dead. I knew that if I told her that that I would break down. Each time I’ve thought about what was written, I’ve had to stop myself from crying or screaming or begging to be taken to the hospital because my mind starts going down the all too familiar path of my-friends-and-family-would-probably-be-happy-if-I-died-too. It was probably a path that “Leah” was familiar with as well. There was always something about her that wasn’t quite right. Lauren’s essay is narcissistic drivel at best. Her friend wasn’t living up to a standard that she expected of her, so she wrote her off. She could justify this lack of understanding by saying her friend failed her.  “Leah” didn’t clean her house, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” didn’t have steady relationships, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” was a cam girl, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” had delusions, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” pursued her crush and failed in a job Lauren secured for her, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” had body image issues, so she was undeserving of respect.  It didn’t stop at her friend’s failures. The friend’s parents also failed her. Because “Leah”‘s parents didn’t magically cure their daughter of an incurable disease, they failed their daughter and failed Lauren because now she had to deal with their daughter’s erratic behavior. Every struggle “Leah” went through was actually harder on Lauren because the world is apparently all about her.1 Lauren’s lack of compassion was horrid, but her choice to use a platform like xoJane during Mental Health Awareness Month to publish a tale highlighting her ignorance was almost worse. This is a month when mental health patients, caregivers, advocates, and healthcare providers try to educate others. It’s a month to become more considerate of the day-to-day struggles for mentally ill people. Lauren and xoJane could have explained what schizoaffective disorder is, how it impacts people who have the issue, and why they behave the way that they do. They could have explored the actual suffering of “Leah” and not focused on the self-involvement of Lauren.  I can’t understand how a parent would let their child go on like this. Clearly, she was suffering and severely ill. If her disease were physical, would they have let her deteriorate to that point? Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic illness. It is sometimes considered a spectrum disorder because it involves overlapping symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. It is not as well understood as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression because it isn’t studied as often and is less common; it is seen in 0.3% of the population compared to 1.1%, 2.6%, and 6.7% for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, respectively. It isn’t well recognized by doctors or therapists; a lot of patients with it are diagnosed with a mood disorder or with schizophrenia first. It impacts men and women at the same rate, but, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, men typically develop it earlier than women. It can be treated, in most cases, by self-management, medication, and therapy, but people who have it are at risk for substance use disorders, suicide, attention deficit disorder, and anxiety disorders. Schizoaffective disorder is caused by genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, stress, and drug use. There are two types of schizoaffective disorder: bipolar and depressive. If the person has mixed or manic episodes, they have the bipolar type; otherwise, it’s the depressive. Unlike other situations, it’s actually better to have the bipolar type. Having it is less likely to result in suicide than having the depressive type. It is considered by some mental health professionals to be more severe than mood disorders, but less severe than schizophrenia.  Because it is classified alongside schizophrenia as a psychotic disorder, it is more difficult to find providers willing to treat it. And treatments may be harmful to patients. Or they may not work.  In my case, I have had many therapists “pass me off” to colleagues. I have tried multiple antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. I’ve had many that didn’t work. Most have caused weight gain, including two that caused gains of fifty pounds or more. I’ve had seizures as a result of one medication. I’ve had a variety of less severe reactions to others. I even developed a temporary medicine-induced case of hyperthyroidism. Eventually I was switched to a high dose of an antidepressant, somewhat regular therapy, and self-management.  I will always have this disorder. My parents can’t make it go away. Medicine can’t either.  But I can cut people like Amanda Lauren out of my life. She thought “Leah” was toxic because of her issues, but, from my perspective, it was Lauren who was toxic. Yes, there were negative behaviors exhibited by “Leah”, but she was only behaving that way because of her illness. What was Lauren’s excuse? Why was she so petty, so judgmental? And why did she feel the need to cast herself in the role of victim? Why does she feel no shame in her words?  I don’t understand how one person can be so selfish, petty, and cruel. As those are personality traits that can be traced back to parenting, I wonder why her parents let her attitude deteriorate to this point. Shouldn’t they have done something before their child became this remorseless beacon of hate? Photo credit: Cameron Bathory via / CC BY Updated: May 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm: Changed link to essay to one from as the Google cache link has updated to the “apology” by Jane […]

Defined Parameters