Mental Bullshit

Hello dear reader(s)!

Are y’all ready to get real?  No matter how flat you make a pancake, it’s got two sides.  Now, I’m sorry, but I didn’t just come in a on a truckload of turnips.  That dog don’t hunt. This ain’t my first rodeo.  Now, let’s get real.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I am a cancer survivor (not that I came out physically fine after), and have two diagnosed mental illnesses.  (PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.)  And occasionally, like many bloggers, I write about it, the stigma associated with it, and how crappy I think our nation treats the mentally ill and all the problems that come from it.

But I am not a mental health professional.  And neither are most of them (unless they are, in which case, you know, they don’t count in this).  My blog-type-thing should not be used to diagnose or treat any illness or disease with the exception of that illness where you like to read crappy blog-type-things.  You shouldn’t be reading this or anyone else’s blog as a substitute for attempting to find actual help.  If you find a tip or technique you can use that isn’t harmful, by all means, use it, but not in exchange for actual help.

I am between professionals right now, because I am supposed to be moving very soon.  I might turn to the internet as a stop-gap, but it should never be mine or anyone else’s first choice.  Frankly, many of the people writing these posts are not at all on top of their own illness at the time they write them, and sometimes, they are just full of shit.

Much like the TV doctors, nobody can diagnose and treat your illness in a few minutes and without really engaging with you.  Nobody without training should even try.

I have a friend, who I am absolutely convinced is bipolar.  Am I right?  Fuck if I know, I’m not a doctor.  Seems like it to me, but that could be through my fucked up perspective and untrained eye.

But what about if you suspect you have an issue?  What if you have all but self-diagnosed?  What then?

Get off the internet, unless it is trying to find help, and stay off until you have found that help.  And when that doctor is terrible and so is their staff (they will be, at least once), you keep trying until you find someone that can actually help.  Then, if you can deal, go back online.  Take everything with a grain of salt when you get there, though.  Abraham Lincoln said it best, “Don’t believe everything you read online.”

Especially in the world of the mentally ill.

In a world that pushes the positive and acts like anything negative aired is a capital offense, many people try to place a positive spin and a idea that they are doing better than they really are.  That happened recently, when someone I interacted with committed suicide.  Nobody saw it coming, because although you knew that person was hurting, they made it seem like it was all under control.  Honestly, I am not doing well with the knowledge of what happened and that maybe I could have done more even though I didn’t know that person outside of a few blog posts and comments.  I am not doing well with the guilt that I really have nothing meaningful to say on that person’s page.  I am not doing well with the stress of this move, the physical effects that remain from my cancer treatment, some personal issues, and just feeling like I will never be a successful individual who won’t have to rely on the kindness of others for the rest of my life.  I am upset about the way I haven’t been able to get any sleep for a while now.  I am upset that I feel as though my illness is not being taken seriously by those who have seen my good days and seem to assume that means I am fine and can actually function every day.

But was that last paragraph fun to read about?  It wasn’t fun to write.  So occasionally, we focus only on the good, and give people a false picture that we are doing much better than we actually are.  We don’t want to bring them, or ourselves down.

We are not authorities or experts on anything but how we feel.  Even the professionals are not going to be one hundred percent accurate all the time for each individual.

Some of the common bullshit “articles” and most offensive to me personally are the ones that try to tell people how to deal with people who are symptomatic.  Not everyone presents the symptoms of the same illness in the same way, and therefore, not everyone responds the same to the same things.  If you want to know how to deal with someone having a hard time, find a time where they are more okay…and ask them.

What these articles tell you to do to someone during their panic attack, might result in a punch to the face if you tried it during one of mine.

The other issues I have with these articles is that they seem to imply that our illnesses are something you are obligated to deal with.  You’re not.  If it is too much for you, let us know, and go.  Hopefully, some friends and family will think we are worth the hassle.  Hannah stayed through my cancer, and I loved her so much for it.  She didn’t have to.  I would have stayed battling her issues, if she would have survived them, but that would have been my choice.  Our issues are ours to deal with, and anyone who chooses to take that on should be appreciated.  They are not obligated to stay, just as we are not obligated to accept anything less than the support from them we feel we deserve.

To summarize, if you have a mental illness, or suspect it, and want people to accept you, you have an obligation to try to mitigate.  Sometimes that will be possible, sometimes it won’t.  But you need to try.  And you shouldn’t expect everyone to be okay with the effects of your illness, especially if you are not trying.  Trying is not believing every meme and “article” written by people online.  Trying is not using your illness as a cover for the times when you are just a dick and you know the difference.  This isn’t a cut that you can put a band-aid over.  You need a professional, not a post or meme.  Good luck and good health.




Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

31 thoughts on “Mental Bullshit”

  1. Great post, my husband thinks I have anxiety. I never really thought of it as an issue, just something every person struggles with from time to time, until recently. Maybe I should get off the internet and go talk to a licensed physician who knows more about this stuff than I do! Thanks for sharing! I am a care giver, & I do from time to time post ways to help the person in need, but I ALWAYS mention that you have to know & understand the person you are going through. I know my person well enough to know when to leave him alone to work out his issues, or when he actually needs that “push” from me, because he’s not the only one dealing with this, I’m in it too, we are a team! But I do understand that I don’t know everything he’s going through, & I don’t have all the answers, and that sometimes doing nothing is the best thing I can do for him. I’m sorry you are going though a hard time, and I’m deeply sorry that someone you knew committed suicide. I’m a big advocate for a program called Always Keep Fighting. It is for people with mental illnesses, encouraging them to keep going, because their life is worth fighting for, but there is none of this, put on a smile & forget your problems crap, because that’s not healthy either. Once again, thanks for sharing! I for one very much enjoy your non-crappy blog-type-thing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Couldn’t hurt checking, I suppose. And yeah, nothing wrong with giving tips. So do I. The things I hate are the total click-bait posts called things like “10 Things Every Anxiety Sufferer Wishes You Knew”, or, “What You Should And Should Not Do For Someone Having an Anxiety/Panic Attack”. As if 1) They are the same, and two so are people.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I gotcha! Yeah, those posts bug me too! You’re right no two people are the same, & just because those two people might have the same illness does not mean it affects them the same way! Good point.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that people should get help but watch out for what kind of help. I believe some of the drugs that are used to treat mental illness are too dangerous. I am not a doctor. That is just my opinion as I know of two people that committed suicide while using the anti depressant medication.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I HATE antidepressants and the science on them is terrible. Not all medication (psychiatric or otherwise) is created equal. I refuse to go on anti depressants until I see convincing, replicated, non-pharma sponsored studies that show the benefits outweigh the risks, and that they are more effective than placebo. Anything independent actually points in the wrong direction for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you are absolutely right! My son was on a medication that was not helping at all. It just made him gain a lot of weight. We took him off and he lost the weight and is doing as well as can be expected. He has a job and a beautiful girlfriend and does the best he can despite his disability.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Right on. It helps to build a team of medical and mental health professionals to properly treat symptoms. Family and friends play a critical support role but leave medical issues to the medical professionals.

    On a side note, is there ever a bad time to toss in a Picard meme?!?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I guess that’s the point really. What the hell do any of us know about mental illness and the like? I sure don’t have myself figured out. In fact, I often find myself attempting to walk that wonky, fine line between trusting my own judgement and… well, not trusting it too much (because it can be faulty and not very objective at all). And don’t get me started on anti-depressants. I know a person or two that have been helped by such, but also many more who clearly haven’t. In my own case, they helped for a short while before making my anxiety so much worse than it already was which then made me feel even more depressed on top of the ridiculous level of depression I was already suffering. Fun times. Thanks for this article. It’s nice when someone adopts an eyes-wide-open approach to talking about this delicate and often misunderstood issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with not diagnosing people around you, even trained psychologists won’t diagnose someone outside of a clinical setting (eg looking back in history they won’t apply mental illnesses to historical figures). There is a role to play though, depending on the mental illness. Sometimes a person is sick and does not know it because that is the way they have always been (or because their illness is interfering with their ability to discern what’s normal). In those cases having other people notice something is wrong is part of the process of getting better.

    There is no easy fix though, and while I do try to be positive and I think that people should get help if they need I understand the other side. I understand not wanting to get help, I understand everything looking good on the outside but falling apart on the inside, I understand feeling alone and feeling isolated and feeling like there’s no way out. I’ve been there myself off and on for years, it sucks but to me it’s all part of life.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble, great post as always. And I know saying “don’t feel guilty about someones suicide” won’t make you not feel guilty, but I feel I need to say it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that you can tell someone they should think about talking to someone. In fact, I think even healthy people could benefit from seeing a psychologist from time to time, just to check on things and like as maintenance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, sometimes I look at the world and wonder where this “mentally healthy” person is because I’ve never met one. Everyone needs a little help every now and then, even those of us who are not sick.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is some great advice, but ask for help with professionals if/when needs be.. I have mental health problems myself and I don’t think you can speak about them until you actually go through them, that’s why doctors/family/friends don’t understand…

    Liked by 1 person

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