One of the things I’ve noticed about working with people in the mental health community is that most of us are instantly tolerant of the mistakes of others ‘like us’. There’s a lot of outpouring of support, for example, for Charlie Sheen. One of the critical problems with this though is that now, anything we talk about to do with bipolar disorder or anything else – for now at least – will also get lumped into feeds for people watching Mr Sheen’s very public mental breakdown.
Let’s be clear about this – I have personally been saying that I didn’t want to ‘bandwagon’ onto the Charlie Sheen ‘stuff’ because it’s cynical at best to grab traffic from someone else’s misery. It’s also not a cricism of anyone else that has talked about CS on thier blogs, because, lets be honest, smarter minds than me are watching him and have more profound things to say.
What I did want to touch on wasn’t his mental health status (because until he’s diagnosed, he could be detoxing or coming off of some altered mental health state) but how people self sabotage. I’ve seen a lot of it recently – it might be the pressures of the world right now, or it might be that it’s just more evident right now because the ‘hornet’s nest’ has been kicked over with all of the true and false information kicking around, about manic depression and other mental health issues, but what I’m seeing right now is a LOT of reactionary conversations and information that’s entirely contrary to what’s actually evidence led, especially in terms of treatment.
Many of you will know, especially by looking at the archives, that I’m very careful not to advise for or against meds, but instead to advise that you do your own research. I advocate that very strongly actually. Having done both sides of the fence in the last year, it’s important to let people know that both are valid, and depends more on your situation than the opinions of others. While medical opinion shouldn’t be entirely discounted, I’m sure that we’ve all met a professional whose opinion we questioned, doctor or otherwise (for example I don’t buy into much of what Dr Phil said or used to say – simply because tough love isn’t always the answer) so advocating that we make sure that we know exactly what the doctor or other health practiconer is recommending is sensible.
There’s two types of self sabotage – and Mr Sheen seems to be involved in the very public version of one of them – alienation of our support structures and surroundings. It’s of critical importance to understand that these issues are very serious for anyone with mental health issues of any kind – if you lose or alienate anyone that’s around to help you, that’s one less person to turn to when you need support, right?
There’s another kind of self sabotage – where you believe everything you read, or get angry with people for providing an overwhelming amount of information, then weigh all of that, internally, equally. It’s true, as I’ve said earlier in this post that there are some really smart minds out there, who say some deeply profound things, but it’s also true that there are people, like me, with no formal qualifications that write what we know. Some of those people don’t even read first, they just let thier fingers run
Not everyone in the mental health community is going to agree with information (and there are a couple of doozies that I’ve got to rebut on here in the next week, because it seems every ‘mental health expert’ with an opinion has come out of the woodwork!) so it’s important to try and limit any of the behaviours that might land us in trouble. Remember – keep reading and researching!
Kai is a writer, author and avid reader. A mental health advocate, Ludosport athlete and coder. She’s the mother of two young adults, owned by two cats, and lives with her beloved in the Cotswolds.