As a mental health advocate, I’ve learned to pick my battles.
Sure, I started out down the advocacy path flipping out every time someone used the word “crazy” or “insane” or “nuts.”
Time passed, though, and I learned how to discern the “harmless” uses of such words (“That party last night was crazy!”) from the “harmful” uses (“She went nuts and ended up in the loony bin!”).
More time passed, and I learned when and how to approach the speaker, and when to simply smile and walk away.
After all, calling a storm “insane” probably won’t promote stigma. An editor who refers to readers who leave angry blog comments as “crazies,” however, most likely will.
Like I said: I learned to pick my battles.
Every now and then, though, someone comes along who completely bypasses potentially stigmatizing words for outright stigmatizing ideas, like you did while discussing your reasons for removing your Marilyn Monroe tattoo during your interview with Italian fashion magazine Amica:
I’m removing it. She was a negative person, she was disturbed, bipolar. I do not want to attract this kind of negative energy in my life. (UsMagazine.com)
I’m removing it. It is a negative character, as she suffered from personality disorders and was bipolar. I do not want to attract this kind of negative energy in my life. (E! Online)
Clearly, the translation is a bit shaky, but the overall meaning is there: Marilyn Monroe was mentally ill and you, not wanting to draw what you believe is negative energy toward yourself, are having the tattoo removed.
(Keep in mind, just two years ago you told Wonderland Magazine that you “definitely have some kind of mental problem, you just haven’t “pinpointed what it is,” and, during the same year, you told Germany’s Bunte Magazine that you got the Marilyn Monroe tattoo as a way to warn yourself not to allow yourself to “be treated so badly by the film industry so that it breaks [you] down.” Not to, you know, split hairs or anything.)
I won’t argue the idea that Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a troubled soul; she was. We all know that. Yet, it’s comments like yours that align negativity with mental illness.
Did you know that roughly one in four people have a diagnosable mental illness during any given year, Megan? Does that mean each of those one in four people is negative or dealing with negativity? Have these people done something to draw negative energy to themselves? Are they to be shunned for their conditions? Conditions that can arise just as easily as any other health condition?
And, if so, would you say the same thing about people with fibromyalgia? Diabetes? Cancer?
I’ve chosen your ridiculous statement – and belief (one can only assume it is indeed a belief, as you’re going so far as to remove a tattoo) as my battle, Megan. Although I most likely can’t reach you, I can reach others, and I sincerely hope this letter will help anyone who believes as you do think differently about mental illness.
Like Mental Healthy writer Liz Lockhart, I also hope that – if your past suspicions about your own mental health are correct – others treat you with a more charitable attitude than the one you’ve displayed.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Story Heads Up: Channel N blogger Sandra Kiume
This post currently has
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.
From Psych Central's Alicia Sparks:
The 5 Scariest Things About Mental Illness | Celebrity Psychings (October 31, 2011)
Last reviewed: 7 Sep 2011