Posts Tagged ‘prejudice’

It’s really hard for me to admit that I have prejudices towards others with mental illnesses. I have one; why the hell would I be biased against them? I like to think that I’m open and accepting and understanding, but my personal battle with bipolar has made me a bit of an asshole when it comes to other people with diagnoses. I try to battle with my knee-jerk emotional reactions using knowledge and logic but I don’t really succeed.

Something about people with personality or “non-chemical” disorders grates me the wrong way. I know that people with Borderline Personality Disorder or people who hoard can’t help that they do the things that their illnesses tell them to do just like people with chemical imbalances. I get it intellectually. But something about hoarders and people with borderline just grates on my nerves. I think it’s because my ex-roommate was both a hoarder and suffered from borderline, and the fact that my maternal grandmother is a Class A hoarder.

My grandmother hoards her own feces and used tampons and her floor is covered in two inches of rat shit because of her disgusting compulsion. My great-aunt slept on her couch once (I don’t know why she’d agree to that; the smell of the place makes me want to vomit) and woke up in the middle of the night with rats unraveling her afghan and trying to nest in her hair. My mom grew up in that shit-hole and I don’t know how she did it. It explains her apathy towards clutter, however. But I can’t separate other hoarders from this very extreme example.

Then my ex-roommate. Sigh. She fits the borderline disorder to a T. Koios and I never cooked or went in the kitchen for the 4 months we lived there, lest she go absolutely insane on us. She didn’t understand cause and effect at all. She broke the washing machine by putting rocks in it. So she could dye them purple. She also stole someone’s car and drove it to Alaska, but since she returned it a few weeks later with a bouquet of flowers she thought that it was “okay”. She tried to commit suicide while she was dog-sitting for a few hours, leaving the front door wide open. Our dog is a Beagle and that was one of the number one rules we set: no doors open when he’s not in our room, otherwise he’d follow his nose and we’d never see him again. Luckily he’s a service dog so he didn’t run, he kept licking her face and biting her fingers to keep her conscious despite her psych med OD and a fifth of vodka. She was a tyrant, going into rages over absolutely nothing.

My prejudice with personality disorders comes from the fact that I (illogically) think it should be easy for people with them to stop their actions. It’s not a chemical imbalance causing these things, so why can’t they fix it? I know intellectually that it’s even harder for people diagnosed with PDs because there aren’t any medications that effectively “fix” what’s wrong in their minds, but I feel like it should be easy to change behavior. Just stop doing it, you know? I can’t get my empathy past the “if you’re doing things that harm yourself and others, don’t fucking do them” thought process. Yes, I am a jerk.

The other prejudice that I have about mental illness is in regards to unmedicated bipolar people. I know so many people who are diagnosed, realize that they have bipolar, but won’t do anything to help themselves. Just go to the shrink and start trying out medications! You wonder why your life is shitty: your unwillingness to take meds is why! The fucked up thing about this bias is that I understand the allure. If I could, I would probably go off my medication despite the fact that I know that they make my lifeĀ  better. I miss those feelings, in a weird Stockholm-syndrome way. I miss the emotional freedom to feel everything.

But there’s a difference between those who hope to learn to manage their illness without medications and those who choose not to do anything, even though they complain that their life is shitty. I don’t think that I could manage bipolar without meds, but that’s my personal illness and opinion. If diet or meditation or light therapy helps someone in their struggle with bipolar, I tip my hat to them. But the people who choose to stay sick for some chance at tortured-artist glory or unwillingness to change– that’s what pisses me off. If you don’t want to take meds, then don’t bitch to me when you can’t keep a job or flunk out of school. The answer is right the fuck in front of you: reach out and grab it or shut up.

Part of this feeling is my own arrogance. I was very resistant to medication but I sucked it up and tried it. I was tired of feeling the way I did and didn’t want to die because of my illness, so I changed myself and my view of meds (slowly, haha). I call myself the biggest quitter in history. I joke that if I had cancer I would just quit and not bother to fight it. I have poor taste in humor. Anyway, the point is that if I could stick with it and figure out the best medication combo possible, anyone probably could. I recognize that I had a supporting significant other and decent healthcare, which most people don’t have, but I still feel that everyone should fight their bipolar or not bitch about it ruining their lives.

Yes, I am an asshole. I know that. But these prejudices are just my emotional reactions to other mental illnesses based on my own life with bipolar. Is it fair? Of course not. Should I change my thinking? Probably. But I doubt that I ever will.



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