Mental Illness – A Fad? Fashionable? A Reader Weighs In


I got my first response I wanted to delete.  Given the almighty-power bestowed upon me as Blog Master, I was offended by a dissenting view of mental illness and my story.  It was a long, wordy comment under SMILE (Part 1)

Standard Temp B&W

In order to (hopefully) ignite the flames of a fiery debate, I want to ask you, dear readers, to weigh in: Do you agree with his comment? For me, mental illness (however you define that) is not “fashionable” or “goth,” nor do I try to tug at the heart-strings and disturb my friend’s, lover’s, etc… sleep or well-being.

Most of us with mental illness have struggled, suffered on many levels.  Not only with our own brand of crazy, but with the people we love.  Either, we have family members who have issues (the old saying is true: apples don’t fall far from the trees, or some crap like that) or we gravitate towards people who have mental illness.  We are trying to gain understanding and acceptance.  People, no matter what their baggage might be, need the company of like-minds and shared experiences for survival.

SMILE is humorous and tragic at the same time.  I titled the piece after two things: Brian Wilson’s SMiLE and the fact that naming a story about depression “SMILE” is damn funny if you’ve ever been depressed. How many times have people just said, “Cheer up.  Smile.  Pull yourself up…. blah, blah, blah.”

So, fans and non-fans, readers and gawkers – what do you think?  Let the sparks fly high.


18 Responses to “Mental Illness – A Fad? Fashionable? A Reader Weighs In”

  1. Honestly, I haven’t read the comment yet. Give me time. Do I have a mental illness? Maybe. There is some personality disorder there. Not that I am trying to get attention by saying there is. I meet a lot of people that can be classified with a mental illness but they would rather believe everybody around them has a problem and not themselves.

  2. Just finished. I use blogs as a way to express myself to get out of depression. It doesn’t really matter if anyone reads it. I think the people around me get a little sick of hearing about it and me not getting any better.

  3. 3 BehindMyBooks

    I actually chose to reply directly to the individual in question, a comment that you’ll see–so I don’t know why I’m pointing it out here. But still.

    I think that the commenter shows a ludicrous ineptitude on his part and a complete lack of understanding of the topic he is attempting to comment on. He obviously has had a very small exposure to the world of mental illness, and has never really researched the topic scientifically.

    Mental Illness is a disease. You don’t tell a Cancer patient to just smile, or to stop being so selfish. You don’t remind them of how hard it is for their family. You heal them. Mental illness is harder to comprehend, but not less real.

    As a person who has been on both sides of the mental illness, I’ll say this, at times it is very possibly more difficult to be the supportive family member, but if you actually care about the people involved, its worth it, always.

    As for being fashionable. Bullshit. Not that there is no one who claims to have depression who isn’t just sad about a break up, etc, but for the most part, mental illness has become more discussed because of a proactive campaign to bring it out of the darkness and force the world to see us and understand (hopefully). 50 years ago, this was not the case. Today I can walk into a coffee shop and say, “I’m on meds for Bi-Polar” and most of that show will support me in that. That may be a bit of a stretch, but the growth in awareness is monumental and it isn’t an accident.

    Alright, I’ll stop my blabbering. I’m glad you didn’t delete his comment, the world should no that moronic imbeciles like that exist. Ugh.

    • Wow! I’m glad I didn’t delete it, either. I think this is a good discussion to have. When I was younger, I had NO idea what was “wrong” with me. I felt like a freak (I still am, of course) and everyone said I was being dramatic. Though it took me a dramatic event to finally get treated, I did finally get that help. Meds and insight and therapy have made my life get so much better. I still struggle and have my moments.

      Negative attitudes only perpetuate the myth that mental illness is all made up by a bunch of drama-attention queens. (Though to be fair, who doesn’t like attention, right?)

      • 5 BehindMyBooks

        Its funny, even when I was in Elementary school I can remember the kids making jokes about the huge Mental Hospital on the other side of town, and their parents going right along with it. Still, even as just a 4th grader I would just yell at all of them that they were obviously a bunch of uneducated ingrates and that people have diseases. I’ve obviously changed a lot in over the years.

        Its sad that the same discussion is still constantly being thrown around.

  4. GOD if mental illness is fashionable then I’m the new fucking black!! And I’ll take fucking pukey fuschia any day!!

    • 7 BehindMyBooks

      Just so you know, this comment quite literally made me laugh out loud. I may start using that as a catch phrase. “If Mental Illness is fashionable, then I’m the new fucking black!”

    • I agree, a witty and wonderful comment from bipolaronfire. I shouldn’t expect anything less! I’d like to steal it, too……

  5. What? Is that person crazy?

    He (or she) contradicts himself. At one point that he admits that people who are mentally ill cannot help it but at another point he calls it fashionable, which implies that it’s a choice. He can’t have it both ways.

    Really, it looks to me that the comment is coming from a place of emotional pain on his part. He seems to have a particular person in mind. He says, “If that means someday someone leaves a suicide note behind blaming me for their problems, or lands themselves in the psych ward with slashed wrists because I refused to answer anymore of their “poor-me” time-wasting phone calls, so be it.” So he’s abandoned someone and apparently feeling some guilt about it. Actually, he really shouldn’t feel guilty. I once broke up with a live-in boyfriend because I literally couldn’t stand his manic phases. He refused medication and at some point I realized that I was going to go down along with him and that wouldn’t do either of us any good. Fortunately, he had a reasonably together family and I wasn’t worried that he’d kill himself. Still, I think of him sometimes and hope he didn’t wind up homeless. I doubt it because his brother and sister are both involved in his life and caring stable people, but it’s not impossible and when I think of him I worry. I just had to accept that I didn’t have the capacity to help him and not feel misplaced guilt over my powerlessness. That it was my last serious stab at a relationship doesn’t help me feel better about it.

    In a way, you can take it as a compliment to your writing. Clearly, he’s written off someone as “mentally ill.” He stereotypes this condition, which has the effect of depriving mentally ill people of their individuality and humanity. Only someone who has a dehumanized view of any group of people could engage in the horrifying “better off dead” argument he employs. Really, I haven’t heard anything like that outside of Scrooge in a A Christmas Carol. At best, it’s anti-social that he would write that in a comment on your blog. I mean, he basically said to you, because your a member of that group called “mentally ill”, that you are undeserving of help and should die. Does he have some hostility issues, or am I reading into it. Anyway, I suspect your memoir has put the individuality back into the suffering and has dredged up some uncomfortable emotions for him.

    Sorry if I’ve taxed your patience with this long comment, but his comment seems to have irked you so I thought it was worth a response. Really, he’s lashing out at someone else.

  6. Ambitionanonymous is clearly wrong about mental illness… however, I feel it’s just as clear that Ambitionanonymous is hurting immensely from being involved with someone with a mental illness – which is nobody’s fault, really. What happens when you’re involved with a mentally ill person, is it is very easy to become “codependent” which a problem that needs attention and help just as the mental illness does, imho. They have support groups for that called Al-Anon, or even just seeing a counselor can help immensely.
    -Been on both sides of the fence myself to some degree.

  7. PS – I read a book called Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie – changed my life.

  8. Interesting debate. Reading the comment I found myself observing that whilst the commenter said that they had helped a lot of people suffering from a mental illness, he appeared to be very angry about this – about the fact that he had put himself through something, and got little in return. Is that why we help? Because we expect something in return? I think that would mean you’d get off on the wrong foot – and then end up being resentful that your ‘advice’ was never followed. He seems angry with people with mental illness. I don’t have a mental illness, but to hear someone talk like that makes me think: this is like standing in front of someone in a wheelchair and yelling at them to get up and walk. I think he’s angry at time he invested, which he didn’t give freely and thus feels used.

  9. My take, after beginning to venture into the world of Huffington Post commentary, is that blogs can spark such great discussion. And are meant to, if not written just as therapy (and if they’re that, then why not just keep to ourselves?). But, lot of yahoos out there. Yahoo does not mean you disagree with me, but you disagree with me in a condescending, arrogant or otherwise brutish way. Some are smart, some ignorant. All are probably not worthy of a seat at the table. If they can present views in respectful way, I think the discourse is worth it. If they’re just bitter and looking for a place to spew it, I ignore and move on.

  10. Thanks candidkay. Some much needed advice for the new blogger, eh? I am open, very open, to discussions and dialogue. Sometimes, I even (ugh) admit I’m wrong. Often, my mind will be changed in some fashion. I want that openess here, on my site. Live and learn, live and learn I guess. Some people are just bullies and rude. Most, I hope, are willing to be more complex, like most of the people and their responses and posts I have found found on wordpress.

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