two cents of crazy

There’s a Mental Health Camp going on in Vancouver this weekend. I am not attending, but since I have both mental AND health, I figured I would throw my two cents in on the subject.

The goal of Mental Health Camp appears to be to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and various discussions on coming out, coping, and celebrating the process. With these topics in mind, I present to you Some Words:

It’s relatively common knowledge (I think) that I’m a little crazy – not the flippant “I’m so crazy, I totally think milk is gross!”, but the “not right in the head/I wonder how long it would take to draw blood” kind of crazy. I’ve been on medication since early 2004, and except for some disastrous experimentation in 2008, will likely be on medication to control my crazy for the rest of my life.

My policy of “share everything” meant that when I finally realized that the way I felt wasn’t normal, my first instinct was to blog about it. I threw out a plea for help online, and a lot of people came to my rescue with their own stories. Never did it occur to me that I was doing something shameful by admitting that I needed help – I reached out to my friends, and they threw me a life line. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?

Maybe I’ve just been really lucky, knowing good people who would never think to give me shit for something like being crazy. I’ve never faced any kind of stigma (or stigmata) because I have to take anti-depressants daily, and I just assume that’s the way things should be. They’re as vital to me as birth control, anti-histamines and caffeine – and no one thinks less of me because of my dependence on those, so why would my brain medication be any different? In my happy little hilarious world, this is the way things work – people accept and support one another through the good AND bad, and everyone just keeps on trucking.

I don’t know what I would if faced with a negative reaction to my crazy and subsequent treatment of it (other than be totally outraged and then blog about it). I’m not kidding when I say I live in a bubble – the few times I’ve experienced racism completely floored me, and for all my jaded “been there, done that” attitude I am truly shocked when I learn of friends doing coke or meth or going a2m. I want to think the best of people, so I do. It’s hard for me to think that there are people out there who would think less of me because I took action to deal with my chemical imbalances – seriously, I tried to make myself better and you look down on that? – but they’re out there, and I’m lucky that I’ve never experienced it.

All that being said, I don’t really feel a need to be celebrated or handled with gloves because I suffer from a mental illness (however minor it may be). It’s there, and I deal with it. It’s a part of me, like having brown eyes and broken feet and a huge rack. I definitely don’t demand special treatment because I have crazy; nor do I feel the need to get together with other crazies and compare scars. This is why I’m not attending Mental Health Camp – I’m dealing with my issues just fine, and don’t feel I could bring anything of value to the table or take anything important away. Coping with my crazy takes very little effort, and I like it that way – I don’t have the time or desire to get bogged down in the details, be they mine or yours.

I feel as though there may be some backlash from the community because I am not really on board with the whole Mental Health Camp idea, but I’m not going to put on a false smile and support something I don’t truly think I believe in just for the sake of appeasing others. I wouldn’t ask you to march in my Mandatory Birth Control for Everyone Parade if it made you uncomfortable, so I’m not going to do the same to myself. My crazy and I get along just fine, thanks. We don’t need a Camp to validate that to anyone.

PANCAKES!! >:E

18 thoughts on “two cents of crazy

  1. I like this post. I feel the same way about not feeling the need to get together and compare scars. If it works for you, great, but it’s not my cup of tea. By the same token, I have a gluten intolerance. I never go to Celiac meet-ups, ’cause, you know, socializing with people based on their inability to digest gluten seems like a strange way to pick your friends. :-)

  2. I am happy that you suffer no stigma, but disagree that MHC is about celebrating mental illness or comparing scars. You are doing your part by blogging, and I’m happy about that. We are not all as confident as you and simply find safety in numbers. MHC is about having peers who support the act of using social media to talk openly when otherwise it would be too difficult.

  3. HI Kimli,

    Nor would or do I judge for supporting it or not supporting it. I know you and others do not judge me, For me speaking out is more about my healing and bringing down some stigma that is out there. And trying to level the playing field. I also know that you support me as a “Person” and I am grateful for that in my life. Some people though who live with a varying menagerie of illness do need to talk about it. Just like there are conventions for people who read comics, or people who like to ride other people like ponies.
    But you will get no backlash from me, because I know where your heart is and it is good, even if it is buried under a lot of boobage.

    This event is not everyone’s cup of crazy, but if a few people leave better for it than it was worth it in my book.
    Love you Kimli!!

  4. You may not have faced stigmata attached to your brand of crazy – which, as you put it, takes very little effort to cope with – but many others have and will continue to do so.

    That’s what MHC is about…helping to reduce the stigma for others in our entire society, not just in your happy little hilarious world. And until all of us (those afflicted with mental illness and those not) stand up and say that this treatment is no longer okay (for all people with all levels of mental illness), it will continue.

    • Of course it’s not okay – I don’t think anyone should face stigmata for anything like this, and I am so not okay with people being discriminated against for any reason. Just because it doesn’t happen in my world doesn’t mean I don’t think it happens at all, and I will stand up to anyone if I see it happening around me .. but that doesn’t mean I want to attend a conference about it, or that I don’t think OTHER people would get value out of it. I’d been asked recently if I was going to MHC because I’m pretty open about my crazy, so I thought I should address why I’m not.

      To me, standing up and saying “this is not okay” means cutting those people out of my life. Life’s too short for negativity and intolerance, so I’m not just being an idiot when I laugh and bounce and say “like, this doesn’t ever happen to me!” – it doesn’t happen because I make a conscious, daily effort to keep my bubble free from people like that and I’ll do my damnest to make sure I don’t negatively influence another’s bubble. That’s how *I* contribute.

  5. first of all, thanks for your contribution, thanks for how you talk about your mental illness.

    as the co-founder and co-organizer of mental health camp, i can tell you that the last thing i would want it to be is some cliquey thing where people do nothing but sit around and engage in mutually pitying wound-licking. and as someone who also deals with weird stuff in my head off and on (and like you, by that i mean more than the day-to-day weirdness that goes on in most people’s heads) i also do NOT want to be handled with kid gloves.

    you may want to drop in on twitter once in a while (hashtag #mhcyvr10) and see if there’s something to your liking, after all. like katarina halm’s presentation on focusing, AJ pape’s idea of an online game, or even my talk about how insanity may well lie somewhere completely different than in mental illness.

  6. Even though I’ve been lucky enough not to have any mental illness of my own (and I have plenty of other illness crap to deal with, so thank goodness for that), I found going to the first Mental Health Camp useful and informative, because before having it hit my family first-hand, I really didn’t understand depression or anxiety or other such stuff at all.

    That said, I also totally get where you’re coming from. I went to a few cancer support groups, and they just didn’t do much for me. I find a lot more value blogging about it and chatting with others online on the subject, or one-on-one in person when the occasion arises, or even talking about it on the radio.

    But many people do find value in talking about it in groups, so it’s a good thing Mental Health Camp is happening.

  7. As the other co-founder of Mental Health Camp, I thought I had to drop my two cents too.

    The last thing we want is to make Mental Health Camp a clique-y event. I will be fully, entirely and completely honest, Kimli, in saying that I am somewhat shocked to read that you’re not fully on-board with the idea. Not because I disagree, nor because I think you *should* be on board (you shouldn’t…. you have a right to an opinion and I will defend that right until the end).

    The only reason why I am shocked is because I totally thought you *were* on board with the idea of MHC and you *liked* the idea. The fact that you wrote this post provides a very informative view of why someone wouldn’t agree with the concept. And as an academic, if there is something I value is (a) disagreement, (b) dissent, (c) feedback and (d) an honest opinion. And you provided all three of them in a respectful and constructive manner. So, for that, THANKS!

    There is no backlash on my part. I’ll still hug you whenever I see you and laugh uncontrollably when you make some of your awesome jokes. Because I do think you’re very funny and fun to be around. And I will value and appreciate your opinion about Mental Health Camp, because as you indicate, you are one of the people who would be within our target community.

    If we are not appealing to everyone in our target community, it doesn’t mean that we are not doing our job or that there is no value in what we do. All it means is that perhaps we need to broaden our approach and re-think how we do MHC. Good food for thought for the years coming.

  8. Hi there,

    A friend gave me a link to this blog, and I wanted to say I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental illness lately as I’ve been helping out with Ride Don’t Hide campaign (www.ridedonthide.com) with Michael Schratter. I especially liked the part where you talked about it being a part of you. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for sharing.

  9. They’re talking about bringing Mental Health Camp to Victoria. I’m not going to be on board. Here’s why:

    I think people in the social media community, perhaps especially so in Victoria, like to glom on to socially acceptable causes or themes and glorify themselves by getting together with all their other social media friends to talk about it. But I rarely see a link to actions that could actually change situations. Raise money? Sure! Get non-social-media-types to take us seriously so we can actually effect change in policy or delivery of mental health services? Probably not!

    If we want to reduce or erase the stigma around mental health, the problem lies NOT with the people who will come along to Mental Health Camp, but with the people who will staunchly avoid it. Maybe, just maybe, there could be a useful purpose to this gathering if there was a serious discussion or training for people about how to talk to their family, friends, employers, etc. about their mental illness in a way that would open minds. This would need to be backed up with resources.

    I had post-partum depression and I’ve had rounds of depression in the past, and will probably do so again in the future. However I did not find that blogging or tweeting about my illness was particularly helpful. A few private LiveJournal posts made it out of my dark dank pit of depression in 2007 but that’s about it.

    Furthermore, I’m getting f’ing sick of everything being “Camps” – It’s a f’ing CONFERENCE people. or Summit. or Workshop. or whatever. Over here in Vic people are throwing “Camps” that are planned to the gills – they’re not unconferences at all. And whether or not an “unconference” style gathering is a productive way of addressing an issue is debatable, IMHO.

  10. I am so tired of the haters. Sue, you can go mind your own business. Why do you write such long thoughtful comments about something you don’t give a shit about anyway. Bugger off.

  11. Alas, but I DO give a shit. I’m tired of social media being trotted out as the answer to everything. What we really need to do is get senior policy-makers engaged in a process in which they can feel enough security to first learn about mental health and then seriously discuss how to make decisions in a way that validates mental health as an equal part of the overall health of the human population.

    I’m sorry, but a bunch of bloggers and tweeters in a conference centre is not the kind of event that will make that happen.

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