A colleague of mine a few years ago said, “Black people are criminalized and white people are psychiatrized.” It is true. The amount of times people of colour have been treated more harshly for committing similar or lesser crimes, or in some cases no crime at all, then white individuals is disgusting, oppressive and embarrassing to us all. We all need to stand together and not stand for this blatant racism.
Day 18: What do you wish people would understand in regards to mental illness and/or mental health?
I wish people would understand that it’s not a big deal. I don’t mean we shouldn’t address struggles, I just mean I would like to be able to not lie about why I can’t come in to work, I don’t want to be seen as some hero because I’m open about experiencing BPD, I don’t want treatment to be so different to kind! I just want the experience to be accepted and everyone move on. We make everything so difficult.
HealthyPlace posted an article today from FiercePharma about the black box warnings on antidepressants that state that children, youth and young adults are at an increased risk for suicidality (thoughts and behaviours) while on the drugs.
Here’s an example of the black box warning.
The article on FiercePharma reports that since the addition of black box warnings there have been an increase in suicides which is leading some to wonder if those who could potentially benefit from antidepressants are not taking them out of fear of experiencing suicidality.
While this is a valid concern I do not like how this brings up the idea that the black box warning on antidepressants should be removed. Many of you know that I do not like psychiatric drugs. I have experienced severe suicidality every time I have taken these drugs (this includes an attempt to end my life). I believe in being educated and that is what these warnings allow consumers to do; educate themselves on the potential risks of what they are putting into their body. Removing the black box warnings DOES NOT make the suicidality side effect disappear!
Of course, it sounds so backwards that a drug you would take to not kill yourself may make you feel that way anyway but it is up to the consumer, along with their doctor and others they chose to involve, to make a wise decision for themselves based off of all available information. If, even out of fear, a person chooses to not use antidepressants then they need to pursue other avenues of support (I know the availability and variety of these supports is a whole other issue) to keep potential or existing suicidal thoughts and behaviours at bay.
I believe these warnings also protect those who do experience the suicidality side effect from being seen as worse off then they actually are. When I first experienced suicidality in 2005 (despite the warnings but the example stands) my psychiatrist believed that my depression was getting worse, so he increased the dose. I became worse, eventually attempting to end my life. If the psychiatrist had listened to me, been familiar with the black box warning (he neglected to me or my family about it) and taken me off psych drugs when I first started feeling unwell then my attempt could have been avoided. My second time around with antidepressants, I was aware of the risk, I knew my potential reaction and when I started going downhill I stopped taking the drug.
The black box warning saves lives. If anything more research needs to go into why suicidality can occur and under what circumstances. I hope personalized medicine can help with this.
Educate yourself, weigh the pros and cons based on your situation and listen to your body.
What do you think about the black box warning? Should they stay or go?
I wrote about a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) some time ago but now I have the book from the library so I can learn more about it.
As I wrote in a past post:
“Elaine Aron is a researcher and author on the topic of highly sensitive persons and children. Sensitivity in her research is not just about emotions but perceptions as well. Around 15%-20% of the population is highly sensitive and biologists have learned that having this trait can be a survival mechanism: observing first then acting. HSP process things on a deeper level which allows them to be more aware but they can also be more easily overwhelmed. This personality trait has been misunderstood. HSP can be both introverts or extroverts and different cultures view this trait differently.”
The book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine Aron includes a test in the beginning to help you determine if you are a HSP. I have copied the test below for you to take as well!
Are You Highly Sensitive?
Answer True or False
- I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment- F
- Other people’s moods affect me- T
- I tend to be very sensitive to pain-T
- I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation- F
- I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine- T
- I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by- T
- I have a rich, complex inner life- T
- I am made uncomfortable by loud noises- F
- I am deeply moved by the arts or music- T
- I am conscientious- T
- I startle easily- F
- I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time- T
- When people are uncomfortable in a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lighting or the seating)- F
- I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once- T
- I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things- T
- I make it a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows- F
- I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me- T
- Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood- T
- Changes in my life shake me up- T
- I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art- F
- I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations- T
- When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise- F
- When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy- T
Score (total number of True answers): 15
12 or more True answers probably means you are a HSP but individuals may only have two true statements but they are extremely true! Therefore they could also see themselves as a HSP.
This book isn’t about diagnosing or giving yourself a label. It’s about understanding yourself and finding ways to be more comfortable in the world and not let things hold you back.
I’m excited to read this book!
Thank you Erika for writing/illustrating this piece. It speaks to some of the thoughts I have had about why I can’t end my life. Check out more from Erika at her site http://www.erikamoen.com/
*Spoilers for those who have not seen Sin City or Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
On Friday my partner and I went to see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. I enjoyed the movie and actually wasn’t bothered by the 3D but that is not why I want to talk about it.
There is a character named Nancy (played by Jessica Alba) who in the first Sin City lost the only man she’s ever loved, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), to suicide. Nancy, for majority of A Dame to Kill For is on a fast downward spiral which manifests in deep depression, alcohol abuse and visions on Hartigan. Nancy has been training to kill the man she believes is responsible for Hartigan feeling he needed to end his life, Senator Roark. Nancy has been unable to pull the trigger on the Senator until one night when she just can’t take it anymore. The scene shows Nancy backstage at the bar she dances at. Nancy smashes her head on the mirror, causing the mirror to break and her head to bleed. Nancy then takes a piece of the broken glass and cuts up her face. Next, Nancy is approached by Marv (Micky Rourke), an ex-con, who agrees to help Nancy kill the senator. As they leave the bar, on their way to the Senator’s home, Marv tells Nancy, with her black leather and stitched up face, “You look hot.” Nancy smiles.
Why do I find this important to mention? Because despite Nancy’s wounds and her pain Marv still thinks she is attractive. Many of us who self harm hide our bodies and ourselves from others because of the shame we feel about our wounds and scars. I know I have felt ugly for a long time because my body bears the marks of old and new pain. I have sometimes been told by others that I am less attractive because of my self harm scars. This does not help.
Telling a person who self harms that they are attractive does not mean that you are encouraging them to self harm. You are in fact building their self worth and demonstrating to them that you care and value them. When I have had partner’s tell me my scars are beautiful or encouraged my not to hide my body a little bit of the shame I have felt for years melts away. The way Marv was seeing Nancy for the beautiful young woman she is, it has been very healing to be with individuals who have not cringed at my scars or wounds. They know they are on me but they are not who I am.
Day 17: If you could get rid of your mental illness(es) would you? Why or why not?
I actually answered this question before in another post.
I stand by what I said in that post (read it for more). I would want a break. I don’t ever want my BPD to go away. I see so much value in some of the experiences and traits it has given me. Losing that makes me nervous because I don’t know what I would be like.