While googling an image (I love how “googling” has turned into a verb) for my previous post I came across some that I thought you all might like to see.
I try to not write long posts because I know they can be time consuming but I’ve made an exception.
First of all, as a human being and as someone who works with children, I am horrified by the mass killing of innocent children and adults at Sandy Hook. I send all my love and support to families, friends, the community and anyone else who is being greatly effected by the tragedy.
As much as millions in the USA and around the world will want to know why Adam Lanza killed those children and teachers at Sandy Hook the odds of finding that out are small if not non-existent. When watching the news I can hear the frustration in reporters voices when they say that no one knows why. We thrive on “why”. Knowing why allows us to make sense of things, so we know what the next step will be. What do we do when we don’t know why?
Historically the answers seems to be to blame it on a mental illness. Every time a violent crime happens, mostly the ones where multiple people are murdered, I dread what the media is going to say about that person and rightly so. That person is then said to have a mental illness, usually schizophrenia. Many of us are familiar with the sinking feeling that follows after hearing someone with a mental illness committed a horrible violent crime. It’s not necessarily because we’re upset “one of our own” committed a crime but it is because we know that this stupid person now represent us. That person is now what the public sees as a mental illness.
I skimmed over an article last night in The Huffington Post called Let’s Talk About Mental Health, Not “Evil”. It was written by a social worker which from my personal and research experience does not mean that it’s going to be great. Always with good intention but not always great. What I got out of the blog article was that Sandy Hook is a great opening point for discussing mental health because the how world is listening. if we wait to long, the author says, then it will become irrelevant and we will not have made progress in de-stigmatizing and educating on mental illness.
I commented back with:
“I don’t know how I feel about this.
Everyone I know with a mental health issue, myself included, have been victims of violence, not the perpetrators. We always get lumped into the same category as these horrible killers and that’s not fair. If professionals can go out of their way to say that people with Aspergers are not dangerous I would like the same consideration.
We cannot assume that just because someone does something bad means that there is a mental illness. Having a mental illness doesn’t make you a bad person. There are so many great people who experience mental health issues. Why do the bad people have to represent the group?”
I feel that talking about mental illness after this crime would make it difficult for people to understand that Adam Lanza is in fact an anomaly (sounds strange to use that word in a mental health context) in the mental health community.
The kicker to all of this is that there is no proof that Adam Lanza actually was experiencing a mental illness it’s basically just been assumed that the odds are very high that he experienced one. Other communities be labelled as dangerous such as the Black and Muslim community. You must be dangerous because you are black! No! It’s ridiculous that it can be almost impossible for people to wrap their minds around the fact that it’s the PERSON NOT THE GROUP!
An article in the Toronto Star appeared a few days ago about Adam Lanza and him having Aspergers syndrome. This was one of the few times I had seen experts say that a group is not likely to be violent or commit crimes. What’s even more impressive is probably the speed at which this article was produced. Experts wanted it to be known that individuals with Aspergers are no less likely to commit a crime then those without the syndrome.
The same goes for those with mental illnesses, especially those with schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder (which appeared to be blamed the most). Where are the experts clarifying that the mental health community is no less likely to commit a crime than someone not experiencing a mental illness? Where are the experts to say that individuals experiencing a mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crime? I’m patiently awaiting that article.
What is comes down to is some people just suck. They are not good people and they do bad things. This DOES NOT mean they have a mental illness. I know too many people, including myself, living with various mental health issues, and who are amazing people, to believe for a second that having a mental illness is an indication of violence. On some level I believe that in order to accept that violent crimes are linked to a mental illness would be to believe that people are inherently good which I do not think at all. Some people are evil. Not ill, evil.
With so many different people in the world someone in a marginalized group is bound to commit a crime that horrifies us. In this case it really is a person who just so happens to have a mental illness. It’s not the illness or, and I will step out and say it, if it is the illness it is ONLY THAT PERSON’S EXPERIENCE OF THE ILLNESS!
If I bring this a little closer to home for a second. My friend was murdered January 1st 2008 at the age of 14. The idiot girl who organized and encouraged her murder was labelled in the media as having borderline personality disorder. Avid readers of my blog will know that is my diagnosis. While I believe her lawyers were scrapping for a way to get her sentence reduced, if I imagine for a second that this idiot girl had BPD then her and I would be the perfect example of how a disorder can appear differently in two people. I have never committed a violent crime and would never dream of ending someone’s life. I even work with children and as I said in a previous post, would not think twice about protecting them from harm.
IT IS THE PERSON!
Why couldn’t the positive actions of those experiencing a mental illness be what is seen by the public?
I hope people can see that the actions of one are just of that one person, not of the group.
(Side Question: If you experience Aspergers do you identify as that syndrome being a mental illness? Just curious because I did make them two separate things in this post so I want to make sure what is preferred.)
I stumbled across the ending of a show called Perception. It is about a neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Pierce who helps the FBI solve some of their most complex crimes. Dr. Pierce is also a man who experiences schizophrenia and paranoia.
A few days ago I read an article in The Huffington Post that discussed some of the issue the author had with the show and they are all valid and I agree with them.
I am excited to watch the show and see for myself what is going on!
The tail end of the episode that I caught was Dr. Pierce challenging his class about normality. He ended with suggesting that in their quest to help people with neurological diseases (his words) are they not possibly taking away what makes that person unique and who they are? It was great!
I don’t like the hierarchy that has developed in mental health.
I’m not talking between professionals and clients/patients but between the disorders.
While I believe that many, if not all, of the mental disorders listed in the current DSM are “normal” human behaviour (the sense of many people feel these things or we are supposed to have these different brain functions) that has been turned “abnormal”, within the current context, of the DSM containing illegitimate disorders, it makes me angry that there could be a hierarchy in mental disorders.
Some disorders are believed to be worse than others. This is completely subjective since we can only experience what happens to us. I have heard some say that schizophrenia is one of the worst mental illnesses to have. Saying this does two things:
1. It can be disheartening for those experiencing schizophrenia to know that they are believed to have the “worst” illness. This can be internalized and could have horrible impacts on their treatment.
2. It makes all other disorders that complicate people lives illegitimate. We ignore how horrible things can get for other people diagnosed with different disorders once we begin to believe that depression is “not as bad” as schizophrenia.
Even within the so-called “worst” mental disorders there are different experiences. We do not all experience the disorder the same. Probably most of the time the only thing we share is the same label but the symptoms will always be different from person to person.
We can only speak to our own experiences. I have always hated what I call “comparing pain”. We all feel things differently, perceive differently, think differently and in truth we all live in our own realities because of this uniqueness. Therefore, no one is worse off, no one is better off. You can only decide within yourself what is your worse and what is your better.
There is then the problem of “realness”. There is a hierarchy according to which disorders are believed to be more real. This is the one that deeply offends me because my “disorder” often comes under attack.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has been called the “catch-all diagnosis”. If the psychiatrists can’t find a disorder to put you then they’ll put you in BPD. Some have said that BPD is just being human, that everyone is essentially borderline. People have basically said to me, when I have told them I was diagnosed with BPD, that my disorder did not actually exist.
(Remember keeping within the context of the DSM and all these illnesses being 100% real)
I became angry when I hear these things because I can’t help but think, “Why my disorder and not yours? What makes your disorder so special?”
It’s a very devaluing experience to have others tell you that there is nothing wrong with you when you feel so wrong all the time, ESPECIALLY when it comes from others within the mental health community, people who are supposed to be your allies. What makes depression more real then BPD? What makes another personality disorder more real than BPD?
I may face this issue more with the new diagnosis of borderline traits. This is essentially saying I have personality flaws, not a disorder, just some flaws that are seriously not good but not disordered. I’m fine with this diagnosis, I’m very happy about it, but it could push me into some trouble since we all carry traits of some mental illness at one point or another. This does not mean that my experience should be ignored or devalued.
Overall, the facts are that I have rage issues. They emotionally and physically hurt my body, disrupt my relationship, hold me back in seeking higher positions in employment, and I’m tired of it! I am constantly on guard, ready to attack, always living in chaos, unable to relax. What’s actually important is that I get support in changing behaviours that are upsetting me. The label can be important for getting that help but it shouldn’t determine what we are capable of or how real we are being.
I guess what I’m asking people to do is to stop judging. This isn’t a competition, This isn’t real vs. fake. This is about people going through horrible things and trying to improve their lives.
Some of us have choice and some of us like to think we have choice. When interacting with the mental health system we need to tread carefully and sometimes look out for ourselves because our doctors may not do that for us.
No one tried to stop me when I decided to stop taking medication. My parents had seen what it was doing to me and respected that I had my own idea of what would work for me.
The story of Eric is an amazing one of a young man trying to make his own medical decisions but in a system that doesn’t respect him.
People with mental health issues are people to. We deserve the same human rights.
Thought: I mean this in mental health. We are all familiar with discrimination and oppression based on your mental health status but each illness experiences its own oppression within the mental health system. How we treat someone with depression is not how we’re treating someone with psychopathy. It feels to me that if your illness causes the typical negative traits such as anger, manipulation, low empathy etc then you’ll read medical headlines such as:
“How to Deal With a Narcissist” (
“How Psychopaths Chose Their Victims” (
“Stop Walking On Eggshells” (
I’m concluding that unless you have a mood disorder then the mental health system is going to shit on you. There is not enough understanding about other disorder in general (depression, bipolar and anxiety have been taking center stage for a long time) and it’s harmful and hurtful that when attention is paid to another disorder that it is all about the pain other put on them! Psychopathy, narcissism and borderline are legitimate DSM diagnoses are they not? If yes, they should be treated with the same empathy as the mood disorders! For narcissism, there is even a support group for individuals who have experienced abuse at the hands of partners, family or friends who have this personality disorder (
)!!! I have experienced much of the same idea with BPD. I’m not considered in pain, I’m considered a bitch.
Schizophrenia has also been pushed to fringe but I am seeing a lot of awareness around this disorder as of late that is making me hopeful.
Stop and think about what it’s like to be the people experiencing the disorders that we don’t talk about. The disorders that many outside it need to “survive”. I can’t leave my brain. I’m stuck with my rages, impulses, negative views no matter what. Stop telling people how to escape me and start supporting how I can become a better person. The people who have the “mean” disorders experience pain too.
(a longer thought lol)