Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Mental Health, Stigma, and Useless Stories

I haven't written a post here for quite some time.

It's not that I'd suddenly found a 'cure' or some other helpful method of coping with my Bipolar, it's just that, well, life is life, and I have four young children, and a million other things to do, and you know, sometimes, just sometimes, I simply don't feel like writing about the arguments in my head.

People that know me in real life, and know me well, know when I'm coping and when I'm not. Recently, it's been a whole lot more of the latter, rather than the former.

I like to read as much as I can about my condition, it helps me to try to understand what I am going through, from an 'outside' perspective. Almost like I'm looking in to my head and not actually experiencing the confusion, which, of course, I am. This is also why I love reading about other people's experiences of Bipolar II disorder. It helps me feel safe, and reassured, if you know what I mean? It's like someone out there in the big wide world is reaching out to me and saying,
"It's OK, it happens to me too"
There is an online community called Black Dog Tribe (BDT), spearheaded by Ruby Wax, which is trying it's hardest to reduce the stigma around all types of mental health issues, which is long overdue.

I have gained a wealth of knowledge from Black Dog Tribe, this past year, and have read many heart wrenching real life stories from featured bloggers, who, like me, suffer daily with depression and mood disorders.

However, today, while perusing Facebook, I came across BDT's feed, which gave various links to articles on their website, the one that grabbed my attention straight away read:
        "Catherine Zeta-Jones Speaks out about her          battle with Bipolar"

I am not a celeb fan, I don't have any favourites, or read up on anyone, unless there is a particular story in the news that is of interest to me, like the one in question, which you can read here.

Zeta-Jones talks about being a role model and hopes that this article will help with the stigma surrounding mental health, yet I read nothing in this particular article that doesn't almost seem to glamorise the condition.

The article is also not completely relevant, as it talks about her home life with her husband and two children and her hobbies, like knitting and gardening, and the fact that  "I love clothes and, yes, we go out, but it’s not like I’m walking around all day in a negligee with fluffy mules.”

At the "height of her illness"  her 'battle' was, according to this report, with Googling her name to find negative comments, so to remedy this, she simply went "cold turkey" and didn't go online, claiming she felt "liberated"

This is all well and good, but this is sending out absolutely no help whatsoever for the people she is supposed to be a role model for. She is merely stating a medical fact that the press had already found out about her.

Now, please don't get me wrong, I am not condemning the woman, but this article is poorly written, and is of no use to anyone suffering from manic depression. It does nothing to help with the stigma around mental health. In fact, I find it almost insulting.

I have often been told to "snap out of it" or "look on the bright side" or "take a happy pill and smile" if I could switch off the struggle in my head and go cold turkey, like Zeta-Jones did with Google, then a large proportion of my illness would be cured!

It is news stories like these that encourage the people who have little or no understanding of mental heath issues to continue to be ignorant and flippant. Surely this is exactly what Black Dog Tribe is trying to overcome, not promote..?