The SayItForward week has had me stymied. People in my recovery circle, be it bipolar or depression or AA people, are already aware of how important it is to reduce stigma and get help early on, when shame is stronger than the pain and prevents us from speaking. My ‘regular’ facebook page, comprised of people I used to work with in the music business are more sympathetic to artists who have mood disorders than people on the air and in programming. It’s true that some of the most famous people in charge of putting new music, promotions and disc jockeys on the radio have been eccentric, for sure. But when I post something about mental health on my page, there might be one ‘like’ and it’s from a sympathetic relative. For me to Tweet to #SayItForward seemed like preaching to the choir. So how can I get the message out there so that it makes a dent in the universe? Just a little one? I know I can do it, but how?
One of the things that hit me is how important it is for people to be willing to listen. That’s why the Peer Movement and Drop In Centers and AA have been so successful. Those people suffer too, and want to listen!
But what about those who think Bipolar Disorder is a spiritual weakness, a form of neurotic self centeredness or a moral flaw? I’m not sure we will ever change their minds. What about the people who are uncomfortable with the whole topic of mental health because of one factor or another? What about the people in my family who have ‘had it up to here,’ with my occasional issues? The topic is clearly not of interest to them, and among them are hard core religionists who don’t buy into the reality of mood disorders, period. Some of them truly think if I went to church regularly and turned my life over to…that I would not need medication or a psychiatrist. Even though they’ve seen me when I’ve been psychotically depressed and under the impression I have two children when I have none.
I think it’s important to #SayItForward, but what can we do to open the door for people to be listeners and help us take action when we need to but aren’t sure of our options? Why can’t all those who blame random violence and other extreme behavior on us believe in our stuggles when there aren’t any headlines on the front pages or home pages? I wish I knew the answer. I just got off the phone with a girlfriend who doesn’t think she’s on the right antidepressant and I tend to agree with her. The manufacturers of this old generic tricyclic bought up all the other makers so they could have a monopoly on supply and drive the price up to 10.00 a pill. It’s too much for her to afford.
That’s why she’s off of it. Like me, she’s on disability and her finances are stretched thin. She drinks when she gets depressed and I’m worried about her. She’s having a tough time speaking up and Even though she’s in DBT treatment and has a psychiatrist who sees her on staff there, I don’t think they are listening. It just seems like it’s Lori against the world and the world is winning. I’m trying to help her, trying to be there for her. Last time we spoke she was in tears from the depression.
As much as we need to speak, we need to listen. Because by and large, we seem to be the only ones. That I know of.