May is Mental Health Awareness Month…. I decided to throw in a blog of what I loathe hearing on a regular ( I mean CONSTANTLY, as I can’t personally be hypersensitive or let things constantly set me off being said in passing, I’d never be able to survive being on social media or in our current society) basis or things I have to hear on a regular basis that is a major pet peeve, as someone who has a combination of medically, mentally and cognitively disabilities or to people who have loved ones with similar disabilities as mine.
Because I’m a little more aware of my barriers, I also know that while this will be helpful to a lot of people,we all vary in our perception of things. Meaning what is helpful to one could be harmful to another, so make sure you are sensitive to the actual circumstances, abilities and skill sets (or lack of them) of the person you are trying to communicate with. Because I’m considered “higher functioning” than most with similar diagnoses, is at very best a mixed blessing. Sometimes ignorance as it applies to myself and my life circumstances, would be actual bliss…..
#1. ” I AM SO busy,busy, BUSY!!!”…. It happens to be that most of my social media peers, as well as my “in real life” peers and people are actually BUSY. They are highly educated, have jobs, families, are going to school for career purposes, etc. It’s a fact of life we communicate with people to tell them we are up to and feel a connection and in fact a lot of us are busy. In my case though, I’m not “busy” with the same things that my peers and/or friends online and offline are. It doesn’t bother me to hear everything my friends are up to and or what they are busy with.
It does however quite OFFEND me, if you use “busy”, as an excuse to avoid communicating with me or seeing me. Because I’m aware that I have less responsibilities due to my current life circumstances, I usually keep things open ended and let others make the first move when it comes to making plans or initiating contact. If you make plans with me constantly and then break them because you are “SO BUSY!!!”, I’m just going to stop paying attention to you. I have a good sense of right and wrong. I am not going to engage in psychological warfare or get revenge. You are just going to not be relevant in my teeny tiny world, any longer. ESPECIALLY, if you knew me in my “other’ life as a “busy” single mom of 2, who worked full time for many years and managed a household and/or you’ve actually met my children when they lived with me and saw how happy we were at one time and I still managed to make time for you and YOUR issues. Or did nothing when my life and my children’s life was falling apart. I managed to forgive some of you. You could extend me the same courtesy.
I wouldn’t complain to someone who can’t have children or who’ve buried them, of how painful my circumstances are. I wouldn’t complain to someone who’s in a wheelchair or needs a mobility scooter of how painful walking, is. When people CONSTANTLY use busy and their life circumstances that I can’t do anymore, in a kind of “fling it in my face” way, such as the fact that their car insurance is so high, their kids clothing budget is “CRAZY” (not a good choice of a word to me, btw) and all they seem to do is “live in their freaking car, driving to_______”….. Those are problems I NO LONGER have and I miss them. I don’t compare life circumstances or think mine are any more relevant, I know better. Some people will not. Again this is about being sensitive to the person who you are trying to relate to.
#2 I AM NOT CONTAGIOUS….. You aren’t going to lose your abilities, all of a sudden develop Bipolar 2 Disorder, gain an enormous amount of weight, develop aphasia or constantly be in severe chronic pain, or any of my other health issues, if you communicate with me or spend time with me. Given the fact that my “disabilities” are circumstantial not congenital (well other then I probably was born with some of the seeds of my mental health issues, they just didn’t blow up until my late thirties, which is rare) and I was born to be prone to being eating disordered ( I started as a toddler using food as a coping mechanism) it’s not contagious.
While my current diagnoses have greatly effected my life, I am more than my diagnoses. I have the ability to say that as a medical and mental health activist. But I’m also not a clinically trained professional. Some people with different skill sets do not have that ability and because of their barriers, as long as they aren’t hurtful emotionally or physically, you cannot use that against them. For self preservation if someone who has mental health issues in your life is abusive or is greatly negatively effecting your quality of life and/or peace of mind and is not aware of it, get appropriate professional help for yourself or them, IMMEDIATELY.
#3 MY LIFE IS NOT EASY…. Most of people’s lives are NOT easy. Whether they have life altering circumstances like I did, that made me lose many abilities, that I used to have, but I don’t have any longer. Or they have their own personal life circumstances that they would NEVER tell you. I don’t begrudge the good things that my friends/peers have from hard work or even if they are lucky. Because I realize that not everyone is as open as I am about things. And I wasn’t always this way and I wasn’t raised to be this way.
Hearing constantly that “must be rough to have so much free time”. I didn’t gain my free time either by hard work and retiring early. I did NOT just wake up one day and thought, this “parenting thing” and “working thing” is just way too time and energy consuming and throw my children out and decide not to work any longer. I try to make the best out of my current life circumstances because NOTHING has ever come easy to me and I realize that could apply to people who have disabilities and who do NOT. Most of anything I did accomplish and I could’ve been proud of, happened before Facebook but I’m only 44.
The best expression I’ve heard to help articulate mental health issues but could be used for more than that. “People ask me why I always take the hardest path, they assume I see more than one path to take”. Again, I know most of my disabilities and barriers. But not everyone does. Whether they have diagnoses attached or not. Sadly, this could be said about anyone and anything, hindsight isn’t foresight. Some people can’t see the hurtful things they do or say because of their own barriers. I have major remorse for things I did or didn’t do or said and wish I wouldn’t have said but I can’t take back. Everyone does, to different degrees, though.
#4 MY BLOG IS MY WORK AND….. Even though it’s poorly written compared to most bloggers and professional writers and I don’t get paid for it, doesn’t make it any less important to me. And I’ve been told by a lot of people it’s helped others. I used to get in my car, drop my kids off of to daycare and go to a place of employment. It’s not a hobby just because I have so much free time (reread #1 & #3) . If you wouldn’t (and you shouldn’t) tell a friend who’s an artist that you could drop a can of paint and produce a finer work of art, please don’t minimize what I can do or what is important to me, given my current life circumstances or anyone’s.
This is both disability and non disability related. Be sensitive and respectful of people’s limitations and barriers. But keep an open non judgmental mind. Some will get what, when, who and why things are of importance to you. Some people won’t because they can’t. Some won’t because they don’t care. Choose carefully in what and who you invest time, money and energy in. At the same time, we all are full of surprises. I’ve had medical professionals describe me as someone who could be taught (but only temporarily retain) how to fly a 747 and perform a thoracic surgery, simutaneously. There are other times that if I can get out of bed (which I always do because even sleeping causes me enormous pain) and within the first 8 hours have a sip of water, it’s a good day. And it’s about as productive as I’m capable of.
#5 NOT EVERYONE WITH MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSES IS VIOLENT
I will write another blog about personal and public safety. However I get in my private email on occasion that people actually fear me or make assumptions of what I’m capable of. What I’m capable of and what I actually do or not do is a different story. If anyone pisses me off, I am pretty good at articulating that I think someone is a piece of crap and I’ll tell them that, if provoked. That’s it. I’m not going to wish them well however it’s not my right or desire to inflict any kind of harm on anyone. Especially in my case with being a hoarder at times and having a serious suicide attempt, I very unintentionally hurt my children, by neglect. I can make my peace with the time I did in the mental health system, ONLY , because of that. And this why I do the advocacy and activism I do.
I however have been accused of wanting to do things I’d never think about or do. I pretty much have owned in this blog, the more serious aspects of my own mental health issues. I’m NOT hiding anything else. What I’ve admitted is HUGE and HUMILIATING. I’ve received anonymous hate e-mail for example, accusing me of being a stalker. I can’t even fucking figure out how to edit my blog. I can’t believe that anyone would think that I’d have the capacity to figure out how to utilize web address identifying technology or even if I could that I’d actually use it. What am I going to do, stalk anyone via public transportation??? That’s their own issues talking. I’ve gotten over being offended.
While people who are violent have a form of serious mental illness, not everyone with serious mental health issues is capable of violent crime or irrational acts that pose a physical safety risk. Some pose no risk either physically or psychologically to others, they just have dysfunctional thought processes that impede them from fully being able to live their lives. Some people have awareness that they have their diagnoses, some do not.
So this is some of my biggest pet peeves of what people say or think about me. I wouldn’t mind hearing of what some of the biases you face whether you have diagnoses and/or disabilities or not.
Because when it comes down to it, we all are “differently abled”………..