Pivoting To Mental Health Awareness

Daily writing prompt
How do you balance work and home life?

The perfect analogy of the stigma toward those with mental illness is when Rep. Lauren Boebert recently voiced outrage that Sen. John Fetterman wore a hoodie and shorts to a press conference. Fetterman was recently hospitalized for clinical depression. America doesn’t care if you feel good; looking good is all that matters. Maybe she’d have been less upset if he’d also had an AR-15 slung over his shoulder.

I loathe Mental Health Awareness Month because it means so many of you still don’t get it, even though one in five Americans lives with a mental illness. For women it’s over one in four, or around 27% (SAMSHA via NIMH).

Less than half of those with mental illness receive mental health services, and stigma is part of the reason. Women are more likely to receive services than men, though that’s not necessarily a good thing. A 1997 study by BJ Floyd found that between 30-50% of women on average are misdiagnosed with depression and may actually be suffering from physical ailments such as brain tumors, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or Vitamin D deficiency.

I have a whole laundry list of misdiagnoses. You wonder why I’d want to find out if I have ASD? Because all these behaviors I’ve been harassed about my whole life are actually normal for someone with ASD. To know there’s nothing “wrong” with me would give me a measure of peace I’ve longed for and deserve. And I would love to be able to tell the lot of ya to piss off.

Another reason why I hate Mental Health Awareness Month is it brings out the fake “I care” posts on social media. Every time a high-profile person dies by suicide, people copy and paste someone else’s post saying if you’re hurting, they’ll be there to listen, though they couldn’t be bothered to comment on a post that flat-out says the writer is hurting. Yeah, we see you and we know you’re full of shit.

America has politicized mental illness. It’s a thing now that whenever there’s a mass shooting, politicians blame it on mental illness. Statistically speaking, those with mental illness are more likely to kill themselves than others. Those with schizophrenia have a higher likelihood of committing homicide than those of us with other types of mental illness, but they seem to prefer knives because it’s more personal.

America has criminalized mental illness. President Biden has signaled he supports mandatory sentencing minimums for fentanyl. People who are addicted to drugs are sick, and putting them in jail does not stop the sale of illegal drugs because the demand for opioids begins with a legal prescription in a doctor’s office.

Did you know the largest mental health institutions in the US are the Los Angeles County Jail, the Cook County Jail in Chicago, and Rikers Island in New York?

Mental illness is racist. Every crime committed by a white person is due to mental illness, while none committed by persons of color are.

Mental illness is sexist. Men who seek mental health treatment are weak, and women who have ANY type of problem are experiencing hysteria and need an antidepressant and to get laid.

It’s bigoted. Every LGBTQ+ person is mentally ill, especially the trans folks, yet politicians and religious types think they know more than mental health professionals about what trans people need.

Mental health care is classist. Elite providers don’t accept insurance to maintain an affluent clientele. The poor and uninsured get the next therapist with an opening at the community mental health center and pay for services on a sliding fee scale. Those with insurance must dance within the boundaries of coverage and can get sucker punched at any time.

After my psychiatrist prescribed Trintellix for me for over three years, my insurance company asked if I still needed a drug used to treat clinical depression since I’d had two rounds of TMS. My psychiatrist didn’t respond. My insurance company declined to continue covering the cost of the drug. How did I learn of all this? I went to pick up my refill and was told the cost had gone up 900%. I asked why and the pharmacy tech read me the system notes. I couldn’t afford the meds at full cost so I started weaning myself off all the drugs I’d been taking. I’ve been off meds for over two months now.

So what does all this have to do with balancing work and home life? How in the hell do you expect me to balance anything with all the crap I put up with just to survive? It ain’t happening, so how about cutting me and my fellow suffers some slack.

Save your fake concern. You ain’t fooling nobody.

If you can help, offer. Be transparent in your limitations. Ask honest questions about our needs and listen to what we tell you. Don’t ever assume you know what we need, unless you want us to call you out as a condescending twat.

In the workplace, be respectful. There’s nothing wrong with asking, “how can I help?” That question works well with everyone no matter the situation, so add it to your toolkit.

And for the love of Ivy please stop perpetuating all these myths about what healthy people look like. We don’t all weigh some arbitrary number somebody pulled out of their ass a long time ago. We don’t all drink enough water each day to drown a small mammal. We don’t smile and constantly puke toxic positivity. Some of us actually have a voodoo doll of you, you condescending twat. Those unexplained pains you feel? Now you know!

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12 thoughts on “Pivoting To Mental Health Awareness

  1. That someone like Lauren Boebert thinks she has the right to comment on anyone is sick!

    Your healthcare system is a nightmare and they want to make ours a copy of it.

    It must be hard coming off the meds that were helping.

  2. I appreciate this blog so much. I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety since 2007 and that came after many traumatic events that showed no signs until after I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Most people wouldn’t even think I have depression even though I have very clear signs and I don’t ask for help, but I really really don’t want the help. Nothing makes it worse than someone who can’t really relate trying to help with something they’ve never dealt with. Because once the help fails you feel bad because by the time they figured out they can’t help, they already don’t want to help because depression becomes somewhat contagious. I’m an optimist even though I have severe depression. That’s because I don’t believe in suicide but I also know there is an end to this life eventually. Life is hard, death is easy. I was taught you get nowhere by taking the easy route.

  3. You knocked this one out of the park, Jen. Mental illness in this country is so negatively portrayed, it’s a wonder anyone at all acknowledges having it. I’m so glad and grateful I was able to get the help I needed, and it’s a damn shame that not everyone can. I’m sorry that includes you, due to costs.

  4. There are so many misunderstandings and misinformation, and people keep adding to it every day. Unfortunately I think a lot of it is for self-gratification in order to make someone look better or feel better about themself. But instead of using status or platform to educate and/or help someone with a mental illness, many people use it to fill their own pockets. Many people would rather use “mental illness” as an excuse or an attack than understand it or those who struggle with it.

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