Recently I noticed that I have been reluctant to offend people, particularly on Facebook. I keep my opinions to myself, especially on social and political matters, and dread being “unfriended” or starting (or continuing) a “flame war.”
This is not just a matter that relates to my bipolar disorder, though it is certainly that too. I have written a number of times about how having bipolar disorder and the behaviors it has brought out in me have cost me friends, even ones that I thought were “forever-friends.” These losses have affected me greatly, at times pushing my anxiety and depression buttons nearly as far as they can go.
Just as I have toned down my comments on subjects such as liberal vs. conservative issues, I have also let pass by posts in bipolar support groups and mental health memes on people’s general Facebook timelines that I’ve disagreed with. Oh, when I see a particularly incorrect or egregiously stigmatizing remark, I’ve been known to smack the person on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, but often in a soft, “In my experience, you may not be correct” manner.
There are also conflicts within the bipolar world that I have strong opinions about but have not jumped into, for fear of offending someone. And I have to ask myself, what would be the consequences of offending someone in such a discussion?
Yes, I might be unfriended. More likely I would be ignored. Or (virtually) yelled at. In other words, if I offend someone with my opinions, they may in turn offend me with their opinions. And while that’s not a productive state of affairs, it’s hardly the end of the world. In an ideal world, I might cause someone to question or consider or engage in fruitful discussion. Not likely, but possible.
So, if I am trying to overcome my fear of offending people with my positions on guns, abortion, health care, climate change and the like, what am I to do about my opinions regarding bipolar disorder and mental health in general?
Well, first of all, I can state where I’m coming from: straight, white, female, married, childless, bipolar type 2, 60 years old, diagnosed for years and on any number of medications for years as well. Not much controversial there. That’s just facts about me and hard to deny.
But here are some things I believe that I know are sometimes subject to differences of opinion. And for what it’s worth, here’s my take on them.
- Psychotropic medications are good things. Yes, they can be overprescribed or improperly prescribed, but when dispensed and used correctly, they help.
- The Scientologists are way off base. Mental illness exists, and so do treatments for it.
- “Natural” or “holistic” treatments for mental illness are not enough to replace medication and talk therapy.
- Sunshine, exercise, and positive affirmations are good things, but also are not enough to replace medication and talk therapy. They do good for a number of people, less for others, and not much at all for some.
- We’ve got to change the popular dialogue about mental illness and violence. We must not let it go unchallenged. For that matter, we must change the popular dialogue about mental health in general.
- While it’s a good thing if those with mental illness take their medications properly, it is absolutely their right to refuse treatment.
- Health care (and insurance plans) should cover mental health care at the same levels as physical health. (Okay, that one’s not really controversial among the mental health community.)
- Emergency responders including police should all receive training in dealing with mental health issues, but they probably won’t.
- Most people don’t/won’t/can’t understand mental illness until it touches their own life in some way, and maybe not even then.
- Education about mental health issues should begin in grade school.
There. If you disagree with any of those statements or feel that I am an idiot for stating them, so be it.
Oh, and while we’re at it, persons with a mental health diagnosis should not automatically be prevented from owning guns, but people with domestic violence convictions should be.
Comments on: "Ten Opinions That May Offend Someone" (5)
None of your 10 opinions offends me. Sometimes I post things on social media so that ‘friends/followers’ self-weed themselves out. So I like this post. On another topic. Wondering about something I heard on a news program the other day about the Las Vegas shooter. I believe a mental health professional was saying something like there was no evidence that the shooter had been diagnosed with a mental health issue. But that most likely he had a personality disorder, like sociopath and/or psychopath. She was making a specific distinction. Which I thought was interesting, since I’m not as educated about the distinction as I’d like to be. Maybe you could blog about that sometime, if it’s something you feel comfortable with.
I have blogged around the topic, to the effect that it’s a bad idea to diagnose someone you’ve never met, based solely on public words or actions (http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-yQ), and I’ve been meaning to write about the “lone wolf” shooter/bomber/terrorist. Personality disorders are mental health issues, but not in the same way as bipolar or schizophrenia. However, many bipolars are also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I’d need to do some more research on it, and I might.
Yes! 🙌🏼 to so many of these. For my husband that has not personally encountered mental health issues, the depression comes from lack of exercise. I stopped my exercise routines though, because depression made my limbs heavy and lured me to bed at all possible moments. For me, sunshine and social hours don’t help. And exercise benefits can only be met (for me) once my medication and talk therapy is effective. There isn’t a great way to explain being mentally tethered to a bed, but it’s there.
So true. I’m in my bed right now. I went to London for a waifs and strays Christmas thing, and to see one of my partners. I spent about half of the WandS party hiding in my friend’s workshop, obsessively reading news on my phone. I hadn’t seen any of the people there for at least a year, and despite being a peripheral person in that circle of friends, I really like them. I just couldn’t deal (anxiety very high).
Went back to friend’s house (hadn’t seen them in many months either) and hid in guest room. The next day I went to my partner’s place and hid in their bed. Yesterday I travelled home and as soon as I got here I got into bed. Over 15 hours now, and I’ve only eft it to pee. Over 15 hours now, no sleep, but BED.
I’ve been in my bed for days now, and not just because it’s cold here!