Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Loony Tunes"

Loony Tunes, and he didn't mean the cartoon...
Those words were uttered by someone I know meant no harm during an AA meeting this morning. So why have those words bugged me for the rest of the day? I'll tell you why.
Think of any other biological, treatable, medical illness that carries more stigma than mental illness. Today, we are much more likely to know when a friend or co-worker is hospitalized for alcoholism or drug abuse than if they were hospitalized for mental illness. Even among alcoholics, mental illness is seen as "less than". For some reason, alcoholics can fully embrace defining alcoholism as an illness. But depression, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia; those are character defects. I could point out that if I never lifted a drink to my lips, I never would have become an alcoholic. With or without drinking, I would still have mental illness.
My mental illness developed without any action on my part. It developed because it is a biological, treatable, brain disease!! In fact, you would think my healthy lifestyle prior to the onset of my illness should have protected me! I shouldn't have gotten depression! But that's like saying someone shouldn't get cancer. They are both non-discriminatory illnesses.
At least with alcoholism, I can point to an external cause...drinking! No drink= No alcoholism! But depression? No cause other than screwed-up brain chemistry.
Why is it okay to use derogatory terms to speak about people with mental illness? Why, even among alcoholics, do those of us with mental illness feel the need to whisper when speaking of it? Why, whenever I mention my mental illness in a meeting, do several other alcoholics "confide" in me about their own closeted mental illness struggles?
We can yell loud and proud about our drinking problems. But our mental illness still crushes us with shame and for good reason. If we dare be open about it, we may be reprimanded, as I was after one meeting. I was scolded for discussing my struggle with fatigue and the resultant difficulty connecting with others, which ultimately put me at higher risk for relapse. Can you imagine that woman scolding me if my fatigue had been caused by a brain tumor rather than by my brain chemistry??? NEVER! Never in a million years!

Crazy. Nuts. Psycho. Stupid. Lazy. Weird. Weirdo. Loony. Loony tunes. Bonkers. Warped. Not playing with a full deck. Fried. Gay. Retarded. Idiot. Schizo. Schizoid. Mental. Sick. Sicko. Wacked. Wack-job. Psychotic. Loco. Maniac. Mad. Insane. Fruit. Fruitcake. Bent. Off. Off his rocker. Braindead. Loopy. Looped. Slow.

Think about it. How many derogatory labels are used daily to describe people with cancer? Or diabetes? Or heart disease? Can you come up with two? One? Think about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You forgot to add
"waste of space"
someone just "mooching off the govt"
"welfare mother"

Oh Etta! I've been looking for you for YEARS! Thank goodness I found your blog!