A Morphing Post about Writing and Mental Illness

I initially sat down today to write this long overdue post about how I Heart Writing.  I’ve finally got back into the writing lark after spending far, far, far, far, far (exponential amounts of the word far are assumed) too much time studying to become a financial planner.  I was going to write about how I must be suffering some form of either Bipolar Disorder, or Dissociative Identity Disorder because I feel like two completely separate people when I’m doing the work stuff and when I’m writing.  It is not merely a matter of saying that I like my recreational activities more than I like work, because that can be said for the vast majority of us, but I truly feel like a different person.  I don’t feel giddy when I’m at work, or studying stuff for work.  I feel repressed and pent up because I deal with money and it makes me think of how close I am to impecuniousness (OK, that’s not quite true, I just wanted to use that word).  It does get to one sometimes when having to deal with other people’s money.  (I do like the company I work for though, please do not consider this a diatribe against them).  Work is draining.  It leads to burnout, stress, and downright depression at times (though perhaps not depression that would meet any clinical diagnosis).  

Writing is another beast all together.  I may curse myself for spending the better part of six hours writing and rewriting the same three lines, but I feel elated when it is done.   I curse and groan at my own writing style, or typos and other errors that I see when I am rereading, but even then, I still get pumped.  And there is nothing that I have ever experienced like the rush that comes with a new idea.  Upon reflection that new idea might be complete garbage, and I might think myself completely crazy for having thought it so great, but I still would not trade the feeling for anything.  

So that is what I was initially going to write.  As I started, though, I realized that this was not really the time to be treating psychological disorders in such a cavalier way.  It has been less than a week since Robin Williams’s suicide, a death brought about, at least in part, by his own battle with depression.  So instead of making light of the matter, I have a few serious things to say.

There needs to be a serious and significant change to the treatment and discussion surrounding mental health issues.  

I have  never been able to understand what is it about a psychological disorder that makes people so ashamed to admit they are suffering.  Why, after al these years, is there a stigma still associated with it?  Is it perhaps a hold over from Freud’s psychoanalysis?  Are people still holding it against psychology that the first big proponent was a man who liked his cocaine a little too much (a fact, ironically, that I first learned from Robin Williams’s character in Good Will Hunting, my favourite movie),  Is it, more importantly, as Robyn Dawes says, because a lot of psychological practice is built on a House of Cards?  Dawes’s meaning is that a lot of the supposedly tried and true methods used in psychology, are not actually all that accurate, or at least they are more subjective than we would like and are led to believe.  Is it this absence of hard fact that makes us so insensitive, or judgmental about mental disease?  Is it because mental disorders are not finite?  They can measure when someone is in remission from cancer.  They cannot predict when someone is cured of depression.  While I can’t answer any of my own questions, it is my belief that if we stopped stigmatizing the disorders and studied them more, we would be in a much better position.  

Regarding famous people: We need to stop putting celebrities up on fucking pedestals, treating them as if they’re at least royalty, at most, gods.  Celebrities are just people who happen to be better known than the rest of us.  Because they have more money, and can afford better homes or cars, it doesn’t mean they are a rare species that needs to be gawked at every hour of the day.  And it is potentially every hour of the day now that nearly 100% of the world has cameras in their cellphones.  Of course people are going to crack up when they’re watched 24/7 like they’re in some damned panopticon.  Sure, go out and enjoy the movies they’re in, or the music they make, but that does not give you a right to know everything about that person.  How would any of us react if some of our more private moments were captured on camera and transmitted all around the world where they are judged and critiqued with impunity?

Do I know that any of my above points contributed to the death of a much beloved person?  Of course not.  And if you took my last point, I do not think that we should know.  Perhaps if we weren’t so intrusive and demanding, more of the people we purport to love would still be around.  If we spent more time considering how someone feels, than worrying about whether our favourite celebrity responded to our tweet, we would be doing a hell of a lot more good than we are currently.  If any good can come from Robin Williams’s tragic death, it is hopefully a profound change in the treatment of mental disorders, and and easing of our voyeuristic ways.  My hopes are not high on either count

Finally, as I tweeted early in the week RIP Robin Williams.  Hopefully your death was not in vain.  


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