Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 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, November 26, 2017


I was confronted with infuriating ignorance during a meeting yesterday. This was a meeting of sober people. The person leading the meeting announced that one of our regular attendees was in the local mental health hospital. It's the same announcement I know was made when I was in the same hospital just a few short months ago. The announcement was made so others might pray for, visit, or send a card to the patient. These type of announcements are made whenever one of our members is sick or needs assistance. It was meant to inform.

Unfortunately, rather than stopping, the leader of the meeting went on to make several stupid "jokes" about the local mental health facility. For example, "I talked to the staff there, and they still let me out." Everybody laughed. Well, everybody except me.

I wasn't laughing, and the more he "joked" the angrier I got. He wouldn't have said any of the things he said if our friend was in the cancer unit. Nobody would have laughed if he had just announced our friend was sick with any illness other than mental illness. Why is it okay to laugh about a person being in a mental health inpatient unit? Why is an inpatient mental health unit funny? What's funny about it? Why didn't the others in the room, several of whom have co-occurring mental illnesses themselves, find the "jokes" at least distasteful? Was I overreacting?

Maybe I did overreact, but I'm so sick and tired of mental illness being the butt of jokes rather than a real health concern! How about some empathy, rather than chuckles, for our friend. A room full of people who have battled addiction should have known better!

I contemplated talking to the leader after the meeting, but I didn't. I think my feelings were too strong, and I'm not sure anything I said would have made any difference to this particular individual. I did talk to a close friend, who encouraged me to let it go, and to another individual, an individual who has also been hospitalized for mental illness. He was also offended but, like me, didn't say anything.

I tried to accept the leader's comments as pure ignorance and let go. Obviously, I've not been too successful at the letting go part of that equation. With time I'm sure I will let it go, but I'm curious what others, i.e. you, think. Am I being too sensitive? Should I have said something? And how do we combat this stigma and ignorance? Right now it feels overwhelming to me.


Wendy Love said...

I hear you and I agree with your position.
Just the other night I was with good friends around a dinner table, all who know about my personal struggles with bipolar. The host made a joke about a someone's behaviour being 'schizophrenic' and his wife corrected him and said 'more like bipolar' adding another round of giggles to the situation. The silly thing is that even their own granddaughter is bipolar.
I know these people well. They meant no harm by it at all. If I had corrected them they would have realized instantly what they had done and begged for forgiveness.
But the comment was made in the moment, there were others around and it seemed best to let it pass. But that is me, I am non-confrontational.
All that to say I understand how you feel.

Nathalie said...

I understand your frustration and indignation/ irritation, Etta. I agree with your point of view. Thr suffering that a person goes through when experiencing an episode of mental illness is nothing to joke about. It's excruciatingly painful. The person needs empathy and support, not to be the butt of jokes. When angry about stigma I fear I will make an angry outburst rather than speaking assertively and rationally. I wish I could rely on myself to speak out in such situations.......