Addiction.

An article popped up on my facebook news feed and it made me angry.

Here’s the article.

For a ‘heartache’ it’s a pretty empty letter that feels to me like it was assembled by maybe a novice author trying to capture the egocentric aftermath of a son’s drug addiction. No matter; a few things were clear – the mother had zero clue about drug addiction. At all. There’s enough fucking resources out there, especially considering she apparently accesses one of them.

After being close with members of an addiction program while I was in hospital myself, I learned a lot. No, you can’t force someone to rehabilitate, just as this person said, and no, prison should never be the answer, but Christ, whatever absolute hell the families are going through, the people themselves are going through worse. I promise. To be honest, I think the letter reads as absurdly and quite specifically egocentric. Part of recovery as a family member is letting the person in the throes of addiction know how you feel and it is a valid and important thing to do, but the ‘It’s all about me‘ from a family member is literally the least helpful thing. I mean, really, what are you trying to achieve with this letter? Your son already knows (really, he knows) that he’s hurting you, so it’s not that. You’re not trying to educate people about the realities of addiction, so it’s not that. I can’t figure out what you want us do with this. One thing I learned the hard way is that looking after a severely unwell addict can be fucking impossible. We managed long enough to get a friend to hospital, but it nearly fucking killed us. Do you know how hard it is to access methadone when you’re several hours away from the regular pick up site? Do you know how hard it is to get a prescription for it moved to another pick up site? In a different city? Did you know that you can’t just go to any GP and get a new script? I hope you don’t, but I do. I also know how to get it done. Did you know that it’s often safer to keep an alcoholic drinking than to force them cold turkey? Did you know that alcohol withdrawal can be more deadly than withdrawal from illicit substances? Did you know that you can’t keep an addict alive by yourself and just with the sheer willpower of love? It’s something that really does require professional help. Did you know that even general practitioners who have known addicts for years can just turn their backs on them? Did you know that everyone hates addicts and very few want to help? Did you?

Because I do.

The reality is, addiction is an illness. It’s not just going to go away by making half arsed pleas through the newspaper. It’s not going to go away by abandoning your loved one. It’s not going to go away by trying to ‘open their eyes’ (which are already open) to the pain they’ve caused. You cannot rationalise away addiction just as much as you can’t with any other mental illness. It doesn’t work like that. It’s not the drugs that have taken over, it’s a few areas of his brain that have taken him over and they are much more powerful than you. Fuck, they’re a lot more powerful than so much of him. Nobody wants this. Nobody wants to be so desperate for another drink or another fix that they would do anything to get it. Imagine how that fucking feels.

Get your fucking head out of your arse. Either you’re going to try help him or you’re not. Either is fine. Make a decision. As you said, you can’t force someone to rehabilitate. His wellbeing shouldn’t be about placating you out of your sense of obligation. If you ‘re not going to be a part of his life, which is a tough decision to make, you need to stick with it. Your son isn’t ‘gone’ and it’s not ‘the drugs’ you have been ‘dealing with’. Your son is a drug addict and unfortunately this is all part of him. If your son can overcome his addiction, he’s going to be a different person. He may not even want anything to do with you or anyone he used to know. Having that door open for him is important, but you can’t drag him through it because that will be dragging him backwards. You need to listen to your drug affected family members. They’ve heard everything you have to say to them many times, I promise. It’s something to agonise over, the media in any form tells them how fucking horrible they apparently are; they know, okay, they do. You can’t tell them anything they don’t already know, but I sure as shit guarantee that you would learn a fucking lot from them if they can let their iron-clad defences down to tell you.

Drug use and abuse is often a symptom. It’s a symptom of trauma or mental illness. This makes detox, rehab, and sobriety that much more difficult because no longer being able to run from the shit inside your own head and having to take responsibility and control of that is not a nice adjustment to make. It’s so much more complicated than just putting down the pipe, the needle, or the bottle; it’s dealing with everything.

We need to stop treating addicts like they’re addicts.

These stupid fucking scaremongering ads on television courtesy of the Australian Govt. further perpetuate stigma. They don’t fucking help anyone, but they hurt some of our most vulnerable. The way to lessening rampant life destroying drug abuse is to stop putting addicts in fucking prison! Christ! I could muse for fucking years on why that’s counter-intuitive  but many other people have done it and done it better than I could. We need funding for addiction services. We need free rehab centres. We need people willing to help addicts find purpose in life. We need a thousand other things to help addicts function better in society. We need to treat them with compassion because shitting all over people with addictions hasn’t fucking worked yet and that is because it never will.

Drug education in schools is often about scaring people. That doesn’t work. Closing the doors to kids who are going to experiment to drugs puts them on the back foot already. There’s a reason so many young people do not call emergency services when they’re out and using party drugs – it’s because they’ve not been taught that the emergency services will help and that being honest with them is the best way to prevent and minimise harm. We need to teach the kids about drugs acknowledging that it is reality that at least a few are going to experiment with drugs, especially in Australia where our drug consumption is huge. We need to teach them how to do it as safely as possible, is all. Like sex ed, teaching them to be afraid teaches them to not engage in healthy discourse with adults who can help in dire situations, which leads to pregnancies, STDs, and in the case of drug use, serious injuries and deaths.

Why the fuck are we doing it all like this?

We can see the damage we are doing by treating people like this.

What are we actually trying to achieve?

Go and rethink your perspective on addiction.
Educate yourself.

If you use drugs, bluelight.org is a bunch of forums about harm reduction. You will not be able to source through this website.

Narcotics Anonymous and Nar-Anon

Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon

 

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Semicolon Tattoos

I’ve talked about mental health a lot. I’m going to talk some more. I will talk about the ‘ugly’ and ‘scary’ parts of mental illness and suicide, so consider yourself warned.

Every second article that pops up on my newsfeed this last fortnight has been about a tattoo trend – people getting semicolons tattooed on them. A lot of my peers at uni have them. It’s not a very new trend, but it has suddenly gained a lot of attention. Here‘s an upworthy article about it. Basically, it the Semicolon Tattoo Project is ‘ an ongoing awareness campaign that seeks to engage communities in suicide prevention and mental health awareness.’ with their tagline being ‘A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.’

It’s a great way to spark the conversation about mental health, and that’s one of the major aims of the movement – to encourage conversation about mental health hoping to lead to less stigma. It’s awesome! It’s millions of conversations that need to take place

But

 

Like literally every mental health awareness campaign/organisation/movement that anyone has actually heard of, they aim to raise awareness of the exact same things countless other, bigger (albeit it less currently viral) organisations do – depression, self harm, and suicide.

I am seriously sick of the ‘scary’, less easy to romanticise (lookin at you, HUGE tumblr pro sh/suicide subculture) parts of mental illness being ignored. If the aim of these tattoos is to help educate the presumably completely ignorant general public about mental health, why is it that ignorance of its ‘educators’ is encouraged? No, these people shouldn’t be walking encyclopedias, especially considering they are not professionals, but they encourage people to become more educated about mental illness through the Semicolon Tattoo project. Did you know that up to half of people with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide? Did you know that around 70% of people with borderline personality disorder will attempt suicide? Why on earth is there no project or initiative that actually mentions those conditions, especially in the resources the project wants you to access? If you’re going to actively campaign to increase awareness of suicide, suicidal ideation, and self harm, how the fuck can you do that without mentioning the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide (bipolar disorder) and one of the most lethal and self destructive (borderline personality disorder) illnesses, especially when no one will talk about it?

To be honest, I do find it insulting and purposefully ignorant when these organisations and projects willfully ignore these illnesses because they are so much more stigmatised exactly because these organisations refuse to acknowledge them!

I can’t even understand how they say they’re for those of us struggling with self harm and suicide ideation when they pick and choose who they include.

Maybe I am going to have to do it, raise awareness for the ‘scary’ illnesses because we don’t have many people in our corner, and these organisations sure as shit seem keen to keep people in the dark.

Clothing and classical music

The link to this article popped up on my facebook newsfeed and I got MAD.

‘The need for such gear is more acute for men, who usually have to wear restrictive tux shirts and jackets when playing a classical concert.’

rant ahead tl;dr at end
Please note, I would not have become so enraged and absolutely incensed by this had that GLORIOUS whiny quote above not existed because I totally agree that tuxes are stupidly impractical to play in. Also note that I am not an elite classical musician, so a lot of this doesn’t directly apply to me, but it does effect the rest of the world of classical music. What also irks me is that this fucking article is written by a woman. A violinist in an orchestra probably can wear light, flowing, non-form fitting clothing as formal performance wear, so yes, she has a less acute need than her male chairmates. I’m going to rant about this anyway.
‘The need for such gear is more acute for men, who usually have to wear restrictive tux shirts and jackets when playing a classical concert.’

MEN CAN GO PLAY THE WORLD’S TINIEST VIOLIN TO THEMSELVES AND IMAGINE BEING TOLD WHAT TO WEAR! BOO HOO YOU ””HAVE TO”” WEAR A TUX. I WISH WOMEN HAD THAT FREAKING LUXURY. Female soloists (or even other performers) in elite (and otherwise, too!) classical music often can’t just thrown on some interchangeable suit that we can wear for every performance. Not to mention that we’re generally expected to look appropriate levels of ‘attractive’ in our dress (our value, regardless of literally anything, including musicianship and skill, is based upon our compliance to current social trends of what is ‘attractive’), and a dress that looks nice enough isn’t going to be practical AT ALL. I mean, even for my AMEB classical vocal exams (grades 5, 6, and 7, so not any of the diplomas or anything fancy) we were ‘encouraged’ (read: expected) to wear formal wear. I didn’t even OWN any formal wear (I was a poor bendigonian teenger, like what the hell do you expect), and sure as shit wasn’t going to buy or hire an exceedingly impractical and uncomfortable dress just for that. Other girls dressed lavishly. They looked amazing, and I was so embarrassed that all I had was a plain black knee length tea dress I bough from Coles. The SUPERMARKET. I just didn’t get why dressing so formally was important. I DID dress in a way that showed that I respected the examiner/audience and the performance I was giving (WHICH I BELIEVE IS THE IMPORTANT PART)… (while also acknowledging that I didn’t have an instrument to parade except for myself), so I dressed what I call ‘funeral nice’ but it’s ridiculous, especially considering the brass/woodwind exams didn’t expect us to dress anything other than ‘comfortably’ and ‘appropriately’. They even emphasised our comfort so we could give the best performance on the day and not be compromised by impractical clothing.

Seriously, though, every time I, a freaking bendigonian amateur musician, get up to perform, the thing on the forefront of my mind is not the electrifying anticipation of the AMAZING performance I am about to give, it is worrying about whether or not I fit what the audience expects me to look like. I HATE conducting and playing trombone (!!!) in more than 1 layer, but I (very egotistically) feel, despite how nicely the rest of me is dressed, as though that if I don’t cover my large, wobbly upper arms and make an effort to somehow magically conceal just how rotund my exceedingly rotund form is, that it will absolutely DESTROY the suspension of reality that the performance partly aims to provide or something. I feel this even when I am a member of an ensemble or when I am a soloist. It’s RIDICULOUS. I WANT TO WEAR MY KNEE LENGTH DRESS. I WANT TO NOT HAVE TO WEAR TIGHTS. I WANT TO GET UP AND SING AN ARIA IN PANTS AND A PLAIN BLOUSE. I WANT TO WEAR FLAT, PRACTICAL SHOES. I WANT TO DO IT IN A TUX.

I DON’T WANT TO WEAR A COSTUME UNLESS I AM IN CHARACTER IN A SHOW.

WHY CAN’T I WEAR NEAT, MORE CASUAL AND PLAIN CLOTHING?

I AM NOT HERE TO LOOK PRETTY I AM HERE TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC.

(side note: for MSO’s symphony for a day, the performance wear directions for men was essentially ‘black suit, or as close to black as possible; inoffensive and inconspicuous patterns if that’s all you have; brightly coloured but not too novel ties encouraged. No boots’ The women’s detailed dress/skirt length, how much our arms had to be covered, talked about beading/detailing, fabrics, and jewellery. Other performances I have been part of had all that plus saying no nail polish, policing how much make up we can wear, how ‘revealing’ the top of our outfit was, heel height, and other crap. I mean, honestly, is someone wearing sparkly eye shadow or having slightly visible shoulders going to turn the world to dust? Do you know that it is damned near impossible to find a top or dress in plus sizing that DOESN’T showcase your ‘only’ ‘attractive’ feature? (I’m talking about cleavage. Yep.)

James Rhodes made an amazing point that when he is performing, he chooses to break the ‘rules’ and dress how he is comfortable, and talk to the audience (and other things to make the shitty often classist and gatekeeping classical music world accessible to people of all levels of knowledge and experience). No one really gives a crap when he dresses like a hipster going on a date to a secluded pop-up coffee shop and is unshaven, but if a woman were to do the same, it’d cause meltdowns. Hell, there was an article in Limelight ages ago about the mass outcry that an opera singer who was like an AU size 12 was ‘far too fat’ for a role of a human woman. If you’re wondering, the average size of the Australian woman is allegedly a 16.

I mean, this shirt IS an amazing invention, and I am glad it exists, but do not for a fucking second imply that women aren’t in as much need of practical clothing. In stead of inventing shirts, why don’t we destroy all these stupid rules and let our performers give their performances in ways THEY feel comfortable, whatever that may be? Let them be comfortable and you will get a better performance. The traditions we have in classical music are killing it. James Rhodes has written LOADS of stuff about the institution of classical music and accessibility and he sure as shit writes better than I do, so go do some creative googling.

Playing in dress shirts and jackets (and vests etc.) isn’t the most comfortable thing, but GO TRY DOING IT IN A DRESS OF ABSURD FABRICS AND HEELS AND MAKE UP AND SPANX.
SHUT UP.
tl;dr: men get to wear suits which is a luxury compared to what women are expected to wear; the whole institution of elite classical music is a sexist and classist one as expressed by archaic ‘rules’/traditions such as ‘clap between movements and we will cut off your hands’ and the fact that people ask about how formally they have to dress for an informal, daytime performance by a local amateur orchestra; JAMES RHODES IS AMAZING GO GOOGLE HIS WRITINGS (and playing!); yes wearing a suit is shit and exceedingly impractical, but don’t pretend men have more an ‘acute’ need for a clothing overhaul in performance than women. We would ALL benefit from destroying the ‘rules’ and dressing more comfortably and practically, whatever that means to each individual performer.

Future Nurses are Bigoted Arseholes, says fellow Future Nurse

So I’m 4 weeks into a BSN (Bachelor of Nursing) degree, here in Australia. I have classes where I learn how to take vitals, two learning about the psychology of healthcare, a human biosciences class, and another where I learn specifically about functioning within a hospital as a health professional. In the latter, we talked about doing bedside handovers, where a health professional gives the latest updates on a patient, well, at their bedside, in stead of elsewhere in private as is the norm. When we talked about this, the first year future nurses unanimously agreed that bedside handovers were a great idea – they keep the client (and their families) informed and involved, they can ask questions, and can meet the health professionals caring for them and build rapport. Our tutor then asked us a question – ‘Are bedside handovers for mental health patients ever a good idea?’ and that is when I lost faith in all my fellow future nurses. (I’ve been reading too many clickbait articles, let’s be real)

 

As someone who has been a ‘mental patient’, having private handovers was exhausting, because literally no one got anything right. The staff had no clue, and it wasn’t entirely their fault. They’d base whole days’ and weeks’ progress off two minute ‘So, do you wanna kill yourself? Nah-ish? Ok, cool. /insert if you want to hurt yourself, come see us line repeated verbatim/. Talk soon!’ spiels which gave them zero information. They’d post the results to the next people, who would ask the same questions and get the same answers. Bedside handovers for mentally ill clients are not always going to be beneficial to the client – it can be confronting, and triggering. On the flipside, keeping clients informed about themselves can be crucial to recovery as health literacy can prevent relapse. Basically, the more we know, the more proactive we can be, just like physically ill clients. Also, our tutor told us that in our local health organisation, the nurses were opposed to mental health bedside handovers as they saw it as their ‘opportunity to vent’ which, as my tutor then explained, is unprofessional, and, if that is how you want to do things, you need to get a new job and in my humble opinion, you need to get the hell away from often scared and vulnerable mentally ill people who mightn’t even need to be in an inpatient setting if it weren’t for the rampant stigma and discrimination faced in their (lol, our) daily lives which prevents them (us) from getting the preventative help we need to stay well. (It stops governments from funding or encourages them to cut medicare/community health/etc. programs for mental health as they have done so it is hard to get help when we need it; we don’t disclose at education/work so it is hard for accommodations to be made when they would be possible; etc.; stigma affects our entire lives, ok)

Let me just say that if you can’t be open minded about mental health, I honestly have no idea what you are doing in a BSN course. Yeah, the town in which we live and study is a town on the smaller end of things, but with the rampant advertising of depression and anxiety awareness, you’d think people would understand that even the people like me with the ‘scary’ (thus ignored by these depression initiatives) illnesses are humans; often rational to at least some degree; if we’re acutely unwell we’re probably more scared of you, your ignorance, and what you’ll do to us than you are scared of us (let’s be real, unless you’re a staff member in an understaffed facility for violent criminals with mental illnesses with the propensity to underprescribe antipsychotics- a joke – , you have the upper hand); if we’ve been chronically unwell, we probably just want the pain, dysfunction, and struggle etc. to go away,  no matter how that is; we have normal human feelings as well as some fucked up ones, too. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, and I certainly don’t want to try, but if you cannot have any sympathy at all, if you cannot push away your ignorance in a class until you learn better, I sincerely hope you soon understand what life is like with mental illness through learning, and the people in your life experiencing mental illness opening up about it. They exist, I promise.

It’s really funny how the tutor and each class member spoke as though none of them, their friends or their family members, their peers and classmates, could be or are part of the 45% of Australians that will experience mental illness in their lives.

look, basically, protip to anyone studying health sciences, social work, etc.:

Sit the fuck down, stay in your lane, listen, and learn. If your first response to something is something that a white, rich, old, male, conservative would say or think, I think you should sit and listen to people with a wider, more positive, lived, and helpful world view. The shitty things you say and think now will be as horrifying to you after your degree as they are to me right now. You’re at school to learn, so learn.

Mental Health week

I’m writing this from within the walls of my friendly neighbourhood psych wards. I’m bipolar. I have bipolar. Whatever.

Mental health week is the one week where people might actually acknowledge my disorder exists. When it is, most of the time is spent assuring neurotypicals that we’re ‘normal’ and that we’re generally not violent. Fuck it. I’m not normal; I have touched the stars, I can sometimes hear the walls talk, and you know what, sometimes I feel like I transport by vibrating through them. I don’t speak for any other bipolar person, but as someone with type 1 that is an ultra rapid cycler, I have a pretty interesting experience.

‘Am’ vs ‘Have’

I say that I am bipolar, because I am. It’s a huge part of me and how I experience the human experience, but some people get all bent out of shape saying that we all ‘have’ bipolar and that we shouldn’t say ‘am’. I don’t care what people say; everyone should be able to say it how they feel it. My bipolar isn’t like a black dog that lingers like some (unipolar) depression sufferers put it; it is my driving force, which leads me to my next point.

The Big Red Button

In Stephen Fry’s ‘Secret Life of the Manic Depressive’, he asks some bipolar people that if there were a big red button which would take away their bipolar disorder, would they push it, and all but one said that they would not push it. A lot of people with it wouldn’t dare change if they could; even the ones who had attempted and nearly completed suicide said that if they could get rid of it, they wouldn’t. Then there’s me. If I could undo all the suffering I have gone through, I would. I believe I would be in a very different place if it weren’t for my bipolar disorder, but I’m bipolar, so I may as well make the most of it.

Coming out

One thing mental health week is pushing is for people to come out. While we have anti-discrimination laws to try protect out jobs, there’s way around them. These laws also don’t stop all your friends and family from evaporating when you come out. The stigma is huge. Not so much around (unipolar) depression and anxiety, as we have about seventy depression and anxiety initiatives, so people know about them. These depression initiatives, however, ignore that some kinds of depression can include psychosis, and that bipolar disorder is very often misdiagnosed as depression initially. It’d be so great if they would cover more types of depression, as they have been successful in lessening the stigma against depression. If they had been making bipolar disorder and psychosis household names like they have with anxiety and depression, I might feel more inclined to be more ‘out’ in real life in stead of being out on various online communities. A friend (that I met in the same ward I’m in now) who is bipolar came out on facebook, and it worked well for her. I do not hide my disorder, but on facebook and in real life, I do not advertise it. I’m caught between wanting to smash stigma by being unashamedly bipolar like I am unashamedly queer and unashamedly fat (obviousness ranging from can spot my fat self a mile away to ‘wait, you’re queer?’) but I just don’t know if I’m ready for that. It’s kind of shit with this sudden push for coming out and not being in a place to really do so as they say. Fuck it. Tomorrow, the 10th of October is allegedly World Mental Health Day. I might ‘come out’.

Mental Health week, I feel, doesn’t do shit for people like me. The events going on, the publicity, none of it from the really big thus influential initiatives acknowledge bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and even things like OCD and other anxiety disorders. Maybe I’ll try to fix that. Maybe we all should.

On Suicide

Western society, in my experience, has odd, and often toxic views on death. Death happens to everyone, yet collectively, we are so desperately afraid of it. One of the most taboo topics in the schema of death is suicide.

According to World Health Organisation:

  • Over one million people die by suicide worldwide each year.
  • The global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000 population.
  • On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
  • 1.8% of worldwide deaths are suicides.
  • Global suicide rates have increased 60% in the past 45 years.

Why don’t we talk about it? It’s so common.

Mental illness is the cause of most suicides (statistics are sketchy at best on this as a diagnosis is not always present in the completed suicide). Stigma against mental illness most certainly does not help lower the suicide rates, and neither does the stigma against suicide. The sex of suicides is hugely asymmetrical. Male suicide rates can be explained in terms of traditional gender roles. Male gender roles tend to emphasize greater levels of strength, independence, and risk-taking behaviour. Reinforcement of this gender role often prevents males from seeking help for suicidal feelings and depression. (The patriarchal society fucks over men, too, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Women tend to attempt suicide more frequently and at a younger age than males, but when males do attempt, it’s often with highly lethal methods such as via gunshot (lower rates of gun use are found in countries with gun control such as Australia) whereas women tend to use overdose and exsanguination which take time, and a fair lot of overdose suicide attempts don’t succeed simply because not enough potentially lethal drugs are not at hand. So there’s a little snapshot into the demographics of suicide.

Attitudes toward suicide do not prevent people from attempting, but they sure as hell do prevent people from seeking help when suicidal or depressed. When suicide is hailed as ‘selfish’ and with mental illness so stigmatised and misunderstood, people stop talking about it. Such an aversion to part of the reality of the human experience closes off a suicidal person to the rest of the world. By crying out how selfish someone who commits suicide has been, does no one realise that in turn, you could say that wanting someone in that amount of pain to stay alive in itself is selfish? Perhaps if people just shut the fuck up about how selfish and horrible it is to others ending such pain, maybe we’ll open the doors to dialogue on mental illness and suicide ideation. Lessen the stigma, and people won’t jump straight to the exits, but might confide in another how much they’re suffering and then something can be done; it’s not too late then.  Stigma against mental illness is illogical; it is estimated that up to 45% of Australians will experience mental illness at some time in their life, and we’re pretty lucky to have healthcare which includes (limited) access to mental heath services and a pharmaceutical benefits scheme which includes medications used to treat mental illness, but other western countries, such as America, are not so lucky. We all still have a long way to go, so in the name of mental health week (October 5 – 12) educate yourself. Go learn about bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, anything that these national mental health (read: depression and anxiety) initiatives  (yes those are extraordinarily important, but so is everything else) blatantly ignore.

Stop saying that suicide is selfish. Your aversion to and discomfort on the subject is selfish. Listen. Help. That’s for the governments, too. That’s the only way to lower suicide rates.

Bipolar disorder

The internet is reeling with sadness at the shocking and untimely death of legend Robin Williams (rest in peace). With all that he has done, and as hugely popular anything he did was, it’s not a shock that there’s an international outpouring of grief, especially with the nature of his death. A lot of posts that have been circulating social media referencing the death of Robin Williams make note of the period of depression leading up to his suicide, but what none I have seen have said is that he had bipolar disorder. Depression is a part of bipolar disorder, but a (unipolar) depressive illness is extraordinarily different to bipolar disorder. Australia has depression initiatives such as beyondblue/youth beyondblue and headspace, and they are both omnipresent (flyers everywhere amongst other things), as they should be, and as a result, our country has been wisened up about depression and anxiety, but bipolar disorder, which is also a mood disorder, is completely left behind, ignored, and even erased by these organisations.

I was lucky – when I got my bipolar diagnosis, I knew a lot about what it was, so when the health system failed me, I at least had enough knowledge to keep me going. Ask most Australians about bipolar and they will have no answer, and the people diagnosing them often have no fucking clue and aren’t paid enough to give a fuck. Why aren’t depression and mental health initiatives jumping on this horrible occurrence to raise awareness? Why did beyondblue’s facebook post about Robin Williams and depression? He didn’t fucking have depression. Do you know what happens when you misdiagnose a bipolar person with depression and treat it as such? Depending on the kind of bipolar from which they suffer, they can swing into a full blown mania, which can feature hallucinations and delusions. It’s often not pleasant for the person suffering it, and it’s generally not pleasant for their friends and family. Bipolar disorder is a very dense illness and treating it is notoriously difficult, and so the wiser people are about it, the higher chance someone suffering it will get diagnosed earlier and not at a crisis point. A crisis point could mean a suicide attempt, or having to deal with the aftermath of mania. It means that someone might recognise the patterns in their shifting moods, or in that of their partner or friend, and someone gets help earlier as a result. Did you know bipolar episodes can actually cause brain damage? Did you know that there are several types of bipolar disorder? Did you know that twelve percent of Australian suicides are by confirmed bipolar sufferers according to black dog institute? Did you know that ‘at least 25% and up to 50%’ of bipolar sufferers in the USA attempt suicide? Bipolar kills, and people suffer and yet no one will fucking talk about it. It’s not necessarily an easy conversation to have, but it is so one worth having.

Bipolar disorder is a life sentence, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

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