Different Morals Does NOT Mean Mental Illness

This garbage really needs to stop.

ughHomophobia is not a mental illness. Approving of war is not a mental illness. Homophobia and war can cause mental illness as we have seen with the countless of LGBT individuals who have ended lives and the large number of soldiers who return home experience PTSD.

Saying that homophobia, or having controversial morals, in general, is caused by a mental illness doesn’t hold people or society and it’s systems accountable for the horrible discrimination many people experience.

People are going to be homophobic or pro-war regardless of their mental state! Just because we don’t agree with someones morals or don’t understand them, doesn’t mean that there is something mentally wrong with them! STOP USING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AS A SCAPEGOAT! THAT’S DISCIMININATION!

 

5 Ways We Can Show Our Supporters We Love Them

There are many lists about how our supporters can love us (it’s horrible that someone needs a guide on how to do this, but anyways) but I know from my own experience it can often feel like a one-way street with one always giving and the other always taking. We do have a responsibility to show our supports that we love them. They are human as well and need to feel loved and receive reminders that they are valued.

Here are 5 things I have done to show my supporters that I love them! (In some cases my supporters also have mental health/addiction issues so it’s extra important that I show them love!)

5 Ways We Can Show Our Supporters We

 

1. When a friend, family member or B, my partner, needs my support I am there to listen, offer advice or even send them worksheets or things to read that might be helpful for them.

2. I tell B I love him all the time and tell my friends and family thank you when they have listened to my concerns or done something nice and helped me.

3. I have bought B his favourite comic book in the past and for a friend who was feeling down I snail mailed her funny and inspiration quotes on little cards.

4. Every time I practice a DBT skill I am demonstrating to my supporters that I am working towards improving myself which can help improve our relationship. This is especially true with my partner, B. Practicing DBT skills allow me to have better conversations with him when I need something.

5. I do my best to respect the boundaries that B has set when I get upset. Sometimes the means he needs to walk away and I not follow and other times he wants me to stop swearing at him when I am upset. Respecting these boundaries he has set demonstrates my respect for him and allows him to protect his own mental wellbeing.

 

Relationships with our supporters need to be as equal as possible.Our supporters cannot always give to us; they can become burnt out.  There may be more moments are where we are taking instead of giving but it’s important to know that we always need to give to them when we can. We may find that by creating a more equal, supportive relationship our mental health improves. Giving to others, practicing our skills, and sharing our knowledge can help build confidence and will benefit relationships with others!

Mental Health Unawareness Week

On Thursday, I went to a local College’s mental health awareness week with a colleague. I believe it was the first mental health awareness week the College has ever had to I was eager to see what the results would be. The schedule looked great, but there could have been some improvements to the event which I detailed in a feedback email.

Anyways, I want to tell you about a particular incident I encountered that has me concerned. My colleague and I were called over to a table to decorate a free cookie OR do a mental health awareness crossword (yes…I found the trade off interesting). We sat down to do the crossword and I was stumped by some of the questions because they didn’t match up with the terminology or experiences I was familiar. I came to one clue that said, “Grandiosity is a symptom of what illness?” I knew that schizophrenia could have delusions of grandeur, but the answer was only 5 letters long so I asked for a clue. I told the volunteers (who were students of the College) that it’s not schizophrenia so I’m not sure what the answer it. One of the volunteers proceeded to explain schizophrenia to me as, “Someone who has multiple personalities and does crazy things.”  My colleague and I looked at this volunteer briefly, in shock at her explanation of schizophrenia, before explaining to her what schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder are. One of her fellow volunteers also explained that words like “crazy” shouldn’t be used to describe people as they are offensive and hurtful. This misinformed volunteer also went on to say that the majority of homeless people have schizophrenia which is not an accurate statement. Needless to say, I walked away from the event fairly put off.

It pained me greatly that someone wearing a “Mental Health Awareness Week Volunteer” name tag could unknowingly spread misinformation to students and visitors. If I and my colleague did not know about schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder then the above misinformation is what we would have walked away with. It scares me to think about how many students heard this misinformation and potentially how many students who experience schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder were told this. To then throw in the word “crazy” is the cherry on top. I recommended volunteer training for next year as a mental health awareness week cannot include harmful misinformation.

Oh, by the way, the answer to the question was “mania”. From my understanding mania is NOT an illness but a symptom of a disorder, commonly Bipolar Disorder. Also, I have been told that mania feels more like a high. You don’t necessary think you’re hot shit when you’re manic (and grandiosity means having an unrealistic sense of superiority) you just feel like you can do everything and anything, no need for sleep, food, breaks. You just go. (Correct me if I’m wrong, please).

Disability in Film

I recently had the pleasure of meeting an amazing man named Tim. His disability positive views are refreshing and much needed in the disability dialogue. I encourage you to check out his website and blog!

Felicity Jones, Dr. Stephen Hawking, and Eddie Redmayne

I wanted to share a piece Tim wrote yesterday on his blog about disability in film. Very often, non-disabled actors play the roles of disabled characters, such as seen in this year’s Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne for his role as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything“. In his blog post, Tim explains his views on non-disabled actors playing disabled characters as well, he asks questions about to the film industry in regards to disability.

Below is an excerpt from Tim’s blog post, Disability in Film.

“Some have said that actors with disabilities may struggle in the highly competitive world of film and TV. Deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who has an Oscar and a decades-long show business  career to her name, is proof that this argument does not hold weight. Others have suggested that actors with disabilities would be limited in what they could do on screen (see Glee’s Kevin Mchale’s dancing dream sequence). But that excuse just rings of unimaginative storytelling. The fact is that if, in 2015, African American characters were being given to Caucasian actors without that lived experience, you can bet there would be an outcry. The film and television industries need to be less willing to lean on their excuses with regards to disability.” -Tim Rose, Disability Positive Consulting, Blog, Feb 22 2015

Please also check out The Rose Centre for Love, Sex, and Disability which was founded by Tim and his wife, Natalie.

What are your thoughts on disability in film?

DBT: DEAR MAN, GIVE, FAST (Part 3)

Part 1: DEAR MAN

Part 2: GIVE

The third set of DBT skills, I pulled on to have my conversation with B is called FAST. This is a skill to use to keep your self-respect. FAST can be used in combination with DEAR MAN and GIVE.

DBT- FAST

Here is how I filled out the FAST worksheet.

Describe how your request is Fair to yourself and to the other person:

It is fair because he is held accountable and my need is expressed.

Identify any potential sources of unjustified guilt/shame to avoid Apologies:

I don’t want to be seen as unsupportive or selfish.

Describe how you are following your Wise Mind so you can Stick to values:

I will try and be empathetic to his situation.

(Note: One of my identified interpersonal values in a previous assignment was that people deserve to be treated with empathy.)

Identify any uncomfortable facts you will need to share to be Truthful.

“I  can’t pay for you.”

 

At the end of the entire conversation, as I mentioned in past parts, I did cry. B threw me a curve ball and I didn’t know how to cope (crying doesn’t mean that I lost control, just it’s not what I wanted to happen). What I kept reminding myself through the cry was that I would not apologize for asking that my need be met. Usually, when I begin crying, that means I’m going to forfeit and do what I need to do to make the sadness stop. With FAST, I felt that I had made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I was asking something reasonable and that I deserved to be listened to. I felt confident which allowed me to respect my needs and carry on the conversation not apologizing.

DEAR MAN, GIVE, and FAST are three skills I know I will refer back to time and time again. They are my game plan. They take away the unknown which is so comforting and make calm and equitable conversations seem possible.

For worksheet click here.

For a detailed description of FAST click here.

Is FAST something you could see yourself using? Have you used FAST?

 

 

My White World of Reading

I came across an article on Facebook called, “I read only non-white authors for 12 months. What I learned surprised me“, and now I am going back through my books to see just how white washed my reading is.

2015: 6 books read, reading book 7—- All White authors.

2014: 56 books read—- 54 White authors, 2 authors of Colour 

2013: 65 book read—-60 White authors, 5 authors of colour (2 authors I read twice, comic book)

2012: 26 books read—-  23 White authors, 3 authors of Colour

Well, this has been eye opening. This isn’t done on purpose, but it brings to mind the question of who is being published? Who are we allowing to share their stories?

I will be more conscious going forward in who I read. When I think back on some of the authors of Colour I read their stories often left an impression on me.

Can any of you notice this in your reading?

 

BPD, Sexual Behaviour & Long-Term Relationships

I planned this post yesterday but need to step away, clear my head and get my emotions in check as I knew there was no way I could talk about this appalling discrimination otherwise. I will put up a trigger warning since I know I had a reaction to this so everyone, please be safe.

Potentially triggering content: Discussion on sex, sexual assault and discrimination towards BPD

Potentially triggering content: Discussion on sex, sexual assault and discrimination towards BPD diagnosed individuals

I read a blog post that included an article about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and why it can be difficult to have a relationship with them. I didn’t disagree with anything in the article. I know that my inability to emotionally regulate make relationships hard. I know that my need to not be alone and avoid being alone causes chaos. What really got me was two comments left by men who had “Dr.” in their name.

The first commenter shared about his wife (diagnosed BPD). She was unhappy in their relationship and would often threaten divorce. Everything he was reading about BPD said that individuals with this diagnosis could not be in long-term relationships so he went to speak with an “expert” on the topic. This “expert” told this man that the only way his wife could be in a long-term relationship with him was if she had “sexual freedom”. Sexual freedom, according to this “expert”, meant that this man should allow his wife to sleep with whoever she pleases because it will give her power, lessen her jealously and make her happy. This is how this couple now lives in their relationship (he is not allowed to sleep with anyone though, power to them if this is working for them).

The second commenter echoed the first and said that people with BPD cannot be in long-term relationships unless it is an open relationship.

I am horrified at these statements. These are my thoughts:

1.  BPD individuals do often display sexual impulsivity and have many sexual partners. It is a stereotype though to think that it is because of this that they are incapable of living happily in a monogamous long-term relationship! It is simply untrue and I have experienced that in my own life.

2. The idea that sexual freedom means allowing your partner to cheat is disgusting. Sexual freedom, at least to me, does mean being able to sleep with who you want, yes, but not willy-nilly, as a way to cope with emotional chaos. Sexual freedom means expressing yourself, being safe from STI’s, having protection from pregnancy, having sex free from discrimination, and exploring what turns you on. Cheating on your spouse IS NOT sexual freedom!

3. This stupid theory of needing to cheat in order to be in a long-term relationship DOES NOT come close to addressing the underlying emotional issues often associated with the sexual behaviour. Sex can be a way of coping, a way of hurting yourself and if you have a history of sexual violence it is a whole other complicated and sensitive matter. To follow this theory is to believe that there is no pain behind what is sometimes extremely impulsive behaviour.

4. This idiotic theory uses BPD as a scapegoat. If you are in a bad relationship and one person in it experiences BPD then it must be their fault and they need to be fixed (I have been there, done that and it blows!). Chalking up unhappiness in your partner who experiences BPD as needing to sleep with other people absolves you from actually supporting your partner and looking at your role in the relationship. You blame them when maybe you are doing something wrong that makes them feel they need to look outside of their relationship with you.

5. It hurts me down to my core that this is “expert” advice. I can’t imagine how many lives this type of inaccurate information destroys, who many people desperately want help and do not receive it because of garbage “science” and stereotypes.

6. Maybe for some couples and open relationship is what works for them. I am totally fine with that! I have known people who are very happy in an open relationship. But, to use it as a “treatment” is wrong. I find it especially wrong that it is not a two-way street, only one partner gets to sleep with others, which to me is not open at all.

When we look at the real facts about sexual behaviour and those experiencing BPD there are trends, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. Women (there have been no studies a BPD men and sexual behaviour) who experience BPD generally have greater sexual impulsivity as indicated by:

  • higher levels of sexual preoccupation
  • earlier sexual exposure
  • more casual sexual relationships
  • a greater number of different sexual partners (although what is “greater” is not said)
  • promiscuity (what that “scientifically” means….who picks this number?!?!)
  • homosexual experiences (can you actually count that? Sexuality is fluid)

Women with BPD are also more likely to have been victims of sexual assault.

Please view the full review here. (This report was sent to me by a peer and social worker who I trust)

If there is one message I could pass on to you out of all of this it’s that THE HEALTHIER YOU ARE, THE HEALTHIER YOUR LIFE WILL BE! 

From my own experience, certain impulsive behaviours (like the ones listed above) lessened the more I worked on my emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal communication. It’s easier to be in long-term relationships when I felt safe, emotionally healthy and had supports. I hope no one ever listens to “advice” these “experts” give (no mental health professional I have worked with has ever suggested I enter an open relationship and I can tell you it would NOT have helped) and realize that unless an open relationship is something you truly want, you can find happiness by working on yourself and ensuring you are with a supportive partner.