Posts Tagged ‘stigma’

Getting real! Will I ever get to shut up?

May 4, 2015


Here where I live it’s Mental health week. I don’t know if it’s the same where you are. But I don’t care when the week is where.
Every minute of every day in my house is mental health “week .
It’s not a day or a week or a month for those who have it.
But it gives us a good opportunity to maybe get a few more people’s attention, maybe chip away a bit more of that stigma.

Because I’m telling you now, that the biggest problem with mental illness isn’t those suffering, it’s the stigma and stereotypes surrounding it.


Truth is, those with anxiety, depression, bipolar and the gambit of others are no less. Yet to often they’re made out to be!
The stigma surrounding mental illness has had its time, now it’s time for it to be stomped out like so many other stigmas that have been minimized by people actually standing up and saying enough.
It’s time to break down the walls.
Those who are in the trenches of illness aren’t the ones who should have to make this change, at least they shouldn’t have to do it alone.
They are pretty unlikely to be open, because society has them feeling ashamed and scared of being looked at as less. So that leaves it up to us, the general population to make reality known, to lead the change, to speak up until people are sick of our voices, so much so they may have a new understanding or appreciation, or at the very least they think before they speak.


If you are still using the ‘r’  word, chucking out bipolar and mental hospitals as a joke, here’s a kick of reality for you. You’re not funny, you are flaming the fires of mental health stigma. Mental health isn’t a joke. It is as serious as any other chronic disease. It is difficult, frustrating, all consuming and life threatening without treatment. And like any disease treatment is necessary, and sometimes even with all treatment possible the outcome is death. But like no other disease stigma plays a huge barrier in patients getting treatment needed. Often feeling judged, shameful, isolated and unsupported.

And I promise you that the mother’s who have buried their children would ask you to consider how you would feel burying your child, because treatment wasn’t sought because of the ignorant stigmas surrounding their child’s illness.
Or how you would feel after all treatment was taken, still loosing the battle, burying your child (because that’s reality for many) and the next day hearing the “think positive”, ” their fault “, ” you didn’t do enough “, and
” your in a mental hospital ” bull. Yes because that’s what every mother facing illness, and potential death of a child wants to hear.


So until
*one by one people shut up long enough to think about their comments and jokes. Even  if you think it’s funny, keep it to yourself, it’s not and you’re not helping the problem.
*One by one people actually think of those who are in the “jokes”. 
Really think about the battle they face. Think about how you would like to have yourself or your child, or an illness you face, to no fault of yours, mocked, laughed at, blamed, ridiculed, criticized, and judged by the masses.
* One by one we realize we don’t laugh at, make jokes or judge physical illness, so why in the hell is it OK to with mental illness?
* One by one people understand the majority of people with mental illness are solely a threat to themselves not others.
*One by one, people keep their judgements of treatment to themselves. * One by one we start supporting those who live with mental illness and their families, building them up instead of tearing them down and making them feel less.


Until those things happen and make a difference, I won’t shut up. And I truly hope one day I can just shut up!

Easy way out, hard way in.

April 26, 2015


In full need of disclosure, I must say that I am in no way a professional, nor do I promote or condone medication for everything. As I often say each case is unique, and not all disorders etc require or should be treated by medication. I am simply sharing from personal experience with a child.

I have written on the taboo subject of meds before. It is taboo and it is touchy and very personal and individual to each situation. I am not going to tell you that you or your child needs meds, I’m simply asking that people stop with the “I refuse to give my kid meds”  and “meds are horrible” statements. Just stop being so closed minded and judgemental in regards to medications.

And here’s why.

As a parent making the decision to put your child on medication for anything non physical is an excruciating decision. Mostly because we know that we will hear so much from other parents about how bad a choice it is. How you would never do that. Good for you, I hope you’re never faced with the reality some of us are.
By saying over and over you refuse to medicate a child (I am talking after ample assessment, needs, therapy and by the appropriate doctors here, not just because a teacher says your child’s hyper, or a gp sees a glimmer of a sign) you are implying directly or indirectly that I am not doing right by my child.

That I am taking the easy way out.
I assure you that I’m not taking the easy way out. I assure you there’s not a damn thing easy about having a child battling mental illness. And I assure you without our treatment plan, my son would be dead. There I said it. Yes D.E.A.D. my 13 year old, kind, sweet, compassionate boy would cease to exist. So no I am not taking the easy way out. Stop making me feel that I am!

I’ve had recent conversations with parents who are sitting across from me, asking advice, because their children are lost , suicidal, self medicating and on a path that has no positive outcomes. Yet when I ask if they’re seeing a psychiatrist, or the possibility that medication may help, I’m quickly answered with “no no I refuse to give my kid meds, and that’s all those people and places do!” .

There are times when I get extremely frustrated when a child’s well being is at risk, at how ignorant people can be. Your to tell me that smoking dope, drinking, risky behaviour and so on is better than therapy and medication?

To each their own, if you are actively finding other means of healthy treatment that are successful for yourself or child, good on ya. If it’s successful and getting positive results, please continue.
Unfortunately for many there’s no easy fix, or simple one for chronic mental illness. There’s also the little things called chemicals in the brain, in which if unbalanced only chemicals can somewhat balance them. Maybe your teen says the meds make them feel weird. Maybe they’re not the correct medication or dose, or maybe they do. Of course it’s important to remember with those little chemicals, their brain chemistry has been unbalanced, and quite possibly they feel weird because they’re balanced. Maybe for the first time in years. Their “normal”  may not necessarily mean balanced and well.

We chose to be proactive with our particular situation,and to work with, not against, a slough of professionals.
Our son has been through physio, OT, test upon tests. Ongoing therapy and physciatrists appointments, hospital stays and hours upon hours of coping.

I do get frustrated when parents choose to bury their heads, I do get angry when they ignore blatantly that their children need help.
Our son is now a young teenager, and though the opposite extreme of the classic bipolar extremes, he knows right from wrong. He’s kind and giving. Smart and funny. He’s a risk to no one but himself. We could easily be on a different path had we “refused to give him meds” or get him help. Our journey would be a drastically different one. And I like to think we’ve done something right by being proactive.

So no we didn’t take the easy way out.
Taking the easy way out would have been denying (trust me we tried), ignoring, blaming, and making excuses. No we choose the hard, long, stressful way. We chose to work damn hard every minute of every day to save our child. To give him a fighting chance. To keep him with us, no matter how hard the work is(yes folks it is damn hard) with us for as long as possible.

No we chose to dive in. We chose to take the hard way in.


Nothing funny about it.

March 11, 2015


There’s one thing I’ve never, nor will ever understand. And that’s finding humour in others pain, illnesses or struggles.
Our world is so full of humour, if you choose to see it.  Laugh at things circumstances, hell even yourself.
But don’t laugh at others, or stereotypes of others.
I will not carry others ignorance, stigmas and judgements. I refuse to allow them to drain me of the fight I fight. But it still angers, hurts and frustrates me.
I will always advocate for the underdog, especially the underdog that is mental illness.
I will continue to chip away the little pieces of the stigma I can, in hopes one day my child will not be laughed at because of the stereotypes surrounding his illness. So many that are so inaccurate it’s ridiculous.

Yesterday I found myself flicking onto social media, and my feed was full of the “you’re in a mental hospital”  joke.
You know the one that tags your friends, ones running naked, ones licking windows, ones rocking in a corner, ones in a straight jacket and so on.
I am not sure my blood pressure has spiked that high in quite some time.

Are you kidding? And don’t for a second say I’m over reacting, I bit my tongue, but I’m allowed to share just how inappropriate things like this are, and why. And so I will.
I am a mother, a mother to a child who has indeed been hospitalized.

First of all.
Would it be appropriate to share a similar “joke” about a cancer ward? A cardiology ward? A palliative ward?
No.  Every single person I know would say that is not appropriate. Being on one of those wards isn’t funny.
And they’d be right. It’s not.
We don’t make jokes and fill up the Internet with jokes of iv bags, hospitals and chemo.
So why, why do we think it’s appropriate to do so for mental illness? Especially using derogatory, out of date stereotypes?
So we can make light of people who actually need these facilities, to save their lives? So they are made to feel inferior, and less than you because they have an illness? That’s exactly how you’re making their feel.

People with mental illness are not a joke. They are not suffering for your pleasure.

Second. Go visit a psychiatric hospital. Do it. If you think it’s funny or this is what you see there.  Heck take your child, try leaving them there without you for a period of time, and try to laugh about it. Hilarious right? Ya that’s what I thought.
Go. I beg you. 
First you will find its not a place like the 50s movies portray. Second you’ll notice, yes there may be some restraining, but do you know why? Because that patient just tried slitting their wrists, or jumping to their untimely death. Or are lost and confused and scared to death.
You will not see patients running naked, etc.  You will see pain and hurt, and hear heart wrenching stories.
You will see very young patients, middle aged mothers, grandfather’s and everything in between.
And I promise you won’t walk out the locked doors laughing. And if you do, I’m sorry your the one with the problem.

I know many that mean nothing by sharing the  “crazy”  jokes, I know many that mean no harm.  But you are. You are flaming stereotypes that many are trying desperately to put out. I know it’s all meant in good humour, but it’s not good humour. It’s hurtful, derogatory humour, that so many assume does no harm. You’d be wrong.

I may not be able to control others, I may not be able to change the world. But I can change who I allow in mine, and I will not continue to shrug it off. I will however continue to love my loved ones the best way I can. And one of those ways is not laughing at their pain, and by using my voice and heart to fight for them and others to scared to speak up.
I may not be able to control these kinds of things, but I damn well won’t tolerate them either.

My son isn’t bipolar

February 8, 2015


My son isn’t bipolar.
He has bipolar.

Some days it’s really hard to differentiate because bipolar can either take over, or creep in at any given time. And those moments it feels as if he is bipolar, because those moments you try so hard to push through to support and get him, actually him, back.

As parents it’s hard to share our world, because the world can be pretty cruel to our kiddos.  It’s full of misinformation, stigmas, stereotypes and ignorance. And as a parent of a mentally ill person, we know all to well how quickly those things can tip our children to a point of crisis.  And as those suffering it’s overwhelming and terrifying to try and get people to understand you are more than the label on your medical charts. Or simply understand you for you.

But at the end of the day my son has a name. And he is him, not bipolar, or any of his other diagnoses.
Truth be known not many people get to know him. Be it because they choose not to or because he prefers to not let them.
There’s a few who get to see the twinkle in his eye, and fewer who get to hear his laughter and fewer yet who see his heart.

He is not bipolar. He is so much more.

He is kind and compassionate and gentle. Though I often wish he was more so toward himself.

He will always think of others before himself. He worries more about those close then himself during his cycles.

He has more empathy then anyone I’ve ever met.

He has a unique humour, is a computer and historical whiz.

He tries harder in almost anything then your typical child. He has to because life doesn’t come easy to him.

He is an amazing big brother and incredible son.

If he likes you, he likes you unconditionally. And will always have your back. His friendship doesn’t waiver, which can be hard because he doesn’t understand why others do.

And his family is not only his strength, but his heroes, best friends and comfort. He takes pride in his cousin’s and sisters achievements and is their biggest cheerleader.

And if he let’s you see that sparkle, you can guarantee you are lucky and spec

ial and will

always be an important part of his life. Because that sparkle doesn’t show for just anyone.

The kid is more resilient than most, and braver then I will ever be.

He has a name, and it’s not bipolar.


I’ll be damned.

January 11, 2015


I try really hard to find the good, in everything.  But I am human and some days just suck. Some days I cry, some days I am angry and some are a bit of it all!
There’s been times I’ve had people say to me (because I’ve used my voice to advocate anti bullying, mental health etc),  “that’s not very nice, it’s not what you should say when your against this that or the other”.  Mainly I get this when something has pushed me to far,  I would love to see how the people saying this to me would respond, guaranteed pretty close or worse. But they’d just be quieter about it, because being silent has gotten us so far. No I’ll speak up thanks.
And here’s a surprise, I’M HUMAN!
We all are. We screw up and mess up. We get sad and mad. We hurt and cry. And laugh and love.
I get extremely frustrated when I see or hear certain things. Typically unjust things involving those battling some sort of battle. Be it judgemental comments or jokes at others expense (their illness, disability, etc), the fact that so many in society continue to use others as a source of humour absolutely angers me like almost nothing else, or ignorance by people who refuse to even try and understand.

Damn rights I get angry and offended and say something. It’s not who I am to just let stuff like that go without saying something. I guess that’s the difference between me and some others, I will say something, with hopes it may make a sliver of change.
I refuse to a) be passive and just accept ignorance and stigmas continue b) be made to feel bad for doing so and being human who yes gets angry from time to time.

Not everyone is as comfortable or able to use their voice as I do, so I take that as I best raise mine some more.

Mental illness is tough, so tough.
I often get asked why I’m so tired, not like I do much. Well aside from running a small business solo, it should be noted that raising children is exhausting, raising one with ultra rapid cycling bipolar would knock many off their feet.


suppose what I’m trying really hard to get across is that being human does not

make me less. As it does not make those with an illness or disability or the victim of bullying or abuse less.

We all feel.

We as mother’s want nothing more than for our children to be happy and healthy.
Everyone is someone’s child. Maybe if people thought that through a bit they wouldn’t be so quick to laugh, suggest or judge.
I will never not be who I am. Nor will I feel bad for this. I will continue as I always have to be emotional, passionate, stubborn and verbal.

Because for so many it’s to late to speak up, I’ll be damned if it’s to late for my child, or yours.

A glimpse into the life…

What I know for sure!

November 1, 2014


Here’s what I know for sure. I know for sure my child has bipolar. I know for sure I love him just as he is.
I am a very open minded person, I don’t judge when others choose as treatment, I don’t question when someone has been given a certain diagnosis. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think so.
You see I also know that I’m fed up, sick and tired and done with others questioning or doubting the validity of my sons diagnosis.
It’s weighed on me for some time, opening up this can of worms, but open I must.
You see there’s people who have actually argued with me, got angry at me because they think he has something else (autism is number one of this argument).
Trust me when I say I know his illness for sure.
We didn’t grab this diagnosis out of a flipping top hat. In fact we work with a doctor that will not diagnosis a young child with bipolar, because their brains and development change so quickly, in reality my son is one of very few he’s felt that strongly to diagnose at the beginning of adolescence.
But see this doctor isn’t the only person we’ve dealt with in the last ten years.  Dude has been assessed and tested by pediatrician, OT, pt, three psychologists, sees a neurologist yearly, with mris, eegs and scans,  a geneticist and everyone in between.  No we’re not new to this.
Through testing, on going for years, years of OT, pt, and therapy, meds, changes, and then some more testing a few pediatrics physc stays, every single professional in our realm has produced the same conclusion. Rapid cycling bipolar, severe anxiety and ocd and ptsd from bullying.

You know what though? I don’t need them to tell me.  We live it. 
When meds need an increase it reaffirms to me we are doing the right thing, because there’s nothing scarier or sadder than not being level. Yes chemicals, shocker!
We’ve had him off all meds at one time, only one of very few times I’ve seen my husband teary as his little boy sobbed, screamed, tried ripping the sink off the wall, and finally crumbled in a ball. The knives were locked up, the razors with them,  nothing in his room that could harm him. That would be our life without the therapies and medication.
But no he’s not bipolar… (enter sarcasm).
We’ve held our son after trying to take his life, we’ve screeched to a hault on the highway as he tries to jump out,  we’ve soothed and calmed when there’s no bringing him down.
But no he’s got something else, not bipolar… Maybe if we just cut something out of his diet he’d be fine…. Oh FYI done that, and guess what? Not a bit of difference, again shocker!

This seems to be one of the biggest hurdles with any invisible illness, people assume that they know better or doubt it.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a physically ill person questioned about their illness, I’ve never witnessed someone saying “you know I don’t think you’re actually paralysed, I think you just have an allergy”  or “ahhhh I’d suggest taking this,  I don’t think you’re fighting cancer, I just think you’re not praying enough”.  Sounds pretty ridiculous right? Yet those faced with invisible illnesses hear it all and then some regularly.  And as a mother of a child whose been diagnosed I’ve heard it waaayyy to often, and I am done. I am pissed off and sick of it.
Do people actually think I wouldn’t do anything to have my son happy and healthy, do they actually think I wouldn’t choose something more straightforward if possible? Do they actually think for a second that maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t give anything for our children? We do,  daily every second of every day, and that’s why we are where we are.  Because the meds work, the therapy work. We’ve seen the improvement, we’ve seen the proof because no we’re not new to this!
Don’t ever doubt my love, support and loyalty to my children. Ever. And for God’s sake don’t question me, I have about three binders of reports to prove you wrong.
Yes I know for sure my son has bipolar, and I know for sure I love him just as he is!

What’s worth it?

October 13, 2014


We all get offended, some of us more than others, partly because it’s the nature of our personality, partly because we live in the depths of something that others don’t know,  to no fault of theirs. I often find myself offended, and reminding myself it was nothing personal. Ignorance is bliss.
We also are all offensive at times, again mostly not purposefully. At least I hope not.
We blurt things out, do things we may find funny or mindless without considering that another person might be offended by our words or actions.
Again Ignorance is bliss.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt when offended, sometimes I’m right in doing so, sometimes not.
Sometimes you just can’t explain to or teach.
Those ones I just walk away, close that door, though sometimes it’s painful to do so.

Our world is full of things to be offended by.  Stigma, stereo types, racism, sexism, war, illness, cruel injustice, etc. 
Those are the topics we need be offended by,  those are the topics we need stand up and raise our voices for.
These are the things worth you and I being offended by.
Not some stupid post by someone living the Ignorance is bliss life on Facebook.  Not by the man holding that guys hand, not by that couple hugging, not by that person who isn’t living just the way you feel is right.
Because we are raising a child who gets stereotyped and stigma on a regular basis I do my best to politely comment or say something when I’m feeling offended by something someone thought innocent enough. Nine times out of ten when the conversation is over they are a) enlightened and b) understanding.  You see I’ve been working on not being offended, so far not so bad, but there are times I think “god I need to say something” because a comment was so off base,  uneducated or potentially harmful to someone.  Those times I say something.  But not bitchy, because like I said Ignorance is bliss and chances are they were either misinformed, are trying to make money by promoting something else other than the whole picture, or really just found something funny.
These people I’m not so offended by. 
It’s people who refuse to understand the ramifications of their words or actions that offend me the most.  I’m not talking a simple post, I’m talking a racist, sexist, judgemental, self righteous mentality.  One who thinks they are better than the rest, who believes their way is the only way, who are directly or inadvertently wreaking havoc with their holier than thou attitudes. Who believe they know everything and then some. The people who openly and happily judge others, because they think they have that right. The people who preach something that in reality they know not much about.  And then I get offended by the abuse and pain being shed on so many people worldwide. I am offended by the treatment of women and girls in other countries. 
I’m offended the most by these types of people.
Not my friend who posted a idiotic comment or pictures. Not by my friend who just came out. Not by my friend who laughed at my mishap. No those are not worth me being offended.
And why would I be?
If you are kind, with a good heart doing good things why would I be offended.
If you are living high on your pedestal, looking down on others, damn rights I’ll be offended.

And I bet I won’t be the only one.

Watch your words.

September 20, 2014


Yes. Yes. Yes!

Having a child with a few of these has made me extremely conscious of using the terms in correctly.

It’s hurtful, ignorant and mis guided when used in such ways as the picture.
It adds to the stigma, it lessons the seriousness of the illness and so on.
Unfortunately these sayings have been around for years, I know I’ve used them.  And often they’re used in general conversation, not as a put down or to cause hurt, stereotypes, stigma or discrimination. People don’t use them as such on purpose, or at least not mostly.

In the last few years though since dude has been diagnosed and he’s become more aware he has been able to express just how simple, in passing statements can be hurtful to those suffering without even knowing.
For him it brings shame, it makes him question why it is considered such a horrible thing to have a legitimate mental illness.  Because we have taught our children it’s not a joke, and it most definitely is not something he can help or should be shameful of. 
To him bipolar, anxiety, ocd etc are a painful reality so why someone would generalize and minimize them is extremely frustrating and confusing.

Yes yes I know so many will read this and say “it’s a joke get over it”  or “stop overreacting”. 

Live it,  and then tell me that.

Would saying “ugh I feel like a cancer patient”  or “God I feel like I hot hit by ms”  acceptable or funny?
Hell no!

By tossing diseases, disorders of any kind around in passing is to minimize them. And that is NOT OK.

Because you had A bad day,  doesn’t mean you’re depressed.

Because you missed A meal doesn’t mean you’re suffering anorexia.

Because you cleaned like a mad woman doesn’t mean you are suffering with ocd.

Because you forgot A meeting doesn’t mean you have adhd.

Because you GOT angry doesn’t mean you are living with bipolar.

And FYI none of these things make you psycho!

So I am not sorry for saying enough.
End rant.

Drop that card!

July 5, 2014


I screw up, I apologize! Hell I’m Canadian, I apologize for walking into a door!
My kids screw up, they catch the wrath of mom and Dad. 
And they apologize for walking into a door.
Dude has a mixed bag of mental health diagnosis under his 12 year old belt. New to this blog?  The main one is rapid cycling mixed state bipolar.  So are his errs handled differently? You bet they are. Are they handled? Most definitely! Even though many don’t see them being handled because the cycle has to pass in order for him to rationally discuss. We try to teach our children that actions have consequences, that other people (and their feelings ) are just as valid and important as theirs.

A huge misconception in society, Thanks you media, Thank you easy out defence lawyers, is those with mental health issues don’t know right from wrong, are a harm to other’s.  BULL! OK not complete bull, because there are illnesses or cycles within illnesses that people don’t think rationally.  Are these the norm? Not likely. 
More likely they are only a harm to themselves.  I know many, and truthfully I’m more prone to hurt someone than they are, because they tend to care so deeply about others because they know what pain is.
And more likely, even when something is done in an irrational state, they acknowledge the mis step and make amends after.
*I am obviously not speaking of major criminal activity here*
The truth of the matter is, some simply need help, and mis steps are a cry for help.
Does that mean bypass all judicial laws and live without consequence? Not in my opinion.
When Dude for example has hurt (never physical ) someone while in a rage or depressed state, when that state has passed we calmly discuss it and make a plan to make amends.  He apologizes (usually more than necessary, even to the door  ) .
So should an adult. 
Is mental illness an excuse?
That’s not a simple yes or No question.
Yes it can cause non  typical behavior and actions.
But yes they should still be held accountable.
Even if that means mandatory treatment.
Of course how they are held accountable should and will differ from the “normal “. As it should.  These people suffer greatly, and in many cases harm is not intentional,  if it is that’s a whole different ball game!!
But should they be held accountable? Absolutely!
I as a parent of a child who suffers and who has suffered myself in the past, am so incredibly sick of two things.
1. The stigma that mental illness sufferers are harmful and scary. High time people understood just how many different illnesses there are. And how each person with each illness is completely unique.  No two brains are the same. Period.  And to lump them all into one narrow box is beyond ignorant.
2. Throwing out mental illness as an excuse to get away with thing’s.  It’s far to easy to drop the mental health card to be held less accountable for actions.  To often this card is played in our courts,  to often are people not held accountable for their actions by playing this card.
No wonder we have number one!
Again I apologize if I’ve offended, and yes to the door I just walked into!