We also practice a concept called Step Up, Step Back. This is a really important concept, and it’s a beautiful concept. What it means is that, for example, I was born a white male. Because of the colour of my skin, and because of my gender, I have been given certain unfair advantages in my life. People have told me my entire life that what I have to say is important, and also that support has made me feel empowered to speak more often, and louder.
Some people have never been given that support. Some people have been silenced or oppressed their entire lives, so I step up to the responsibility that I’ve been empowered, and then I step back, and let other people who haven’t been empowered have a chance to speak. It also means that if I’ve been speaking a lot I’ll step back, and encourage people who haven’t been speaking a lot to step up.” —Occupy Wall Street: General Assembly Training
Please stop talking about how “bad”, “wrong”, “dangerous” or “stupid” it is when people self-diagnose, especially in regard to mental illness.
Let’s go over the reasons this is fucked up, problematic and oppressive.
1. Classism. Psychiatric and other types of evaluations are really fucking expensive, and often inaccessible. The last psych eval I had cost me $500. Anything involving neurology? Costs a SHIT TON more. Not to mention, services that are available to the poor are typically of low quality.
2. It dis-empowers people with disabilities by establishing doctors as the ultimate authorities on our own experiences. No matter how well we may know ourselves, a doctor supposedly will know better. Because they are a doctor. (And treating someone as an authority simply because they have the privilege of a formal education is classist and ableist.)
3. The entire psychiatric system is still really oppressive to people with disabilities, who can become institutionalized against their will. A lot of people understandably do not trust doctors or are afraid to pursue treatment. Forcing people to see a doctor to obtain a “real” diagnosis is ignoring this reality.
4. Psychiatry and the medical establishment are also very oppressive towards people who are marginalized in other ways. The fact that trans people can still be diagnosed as mentally ill for being trans is only one example of this. People who are out of status could risk deportation for seeking help. Etc.
5. Doctors often disagree with each other. Doctors misdiagnose and prescribe medication that can aggravate an illness. Doctors frequently make mistakes. Teaching people that their own instincts are wrong if a doctor disagrees with them can be really goddamn dangerous. Like, taking the wrong medication due to misdiagnosis can result in death, okay? Serious shit.
If your problem is with people trivializing illness, then say so. That’s not the same as self-diagnosis, which does not inherently trivialize anything. A lot of people consider self-diagnosis to be liberating, empowering, and extremely important, myself included. Don’t tell us how we are “supposed” to seek treatment, especially when it involves a system that is fundamentally flawed, largely inaccessible, and overwhelmingly oppressive.
things we are trying to do all the time:
- be safe
things we can’t help but do all the time:
- second-guess ourselves
- behave impulsively and reactively
- take everything personally
- have difficulty accepting compliments
- have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
- have difficulty finding the courage to respond
- have difficulty not being suspicious of others’ intentions
- make a huge deal out of the smallest thing
things you should keep in mind:
- we’re scared of everything
- pretty much all of the time
- it’s an actual disorder
- it manifests as impulsive behavior
- you can’t fix us with words
- telling us “worrying is silly” won’t make us stop worrying
- it’ll only make us feel silly
- and then we’ll worry even more
- “oh god, am i worrying too much? what if they call me silly again?”
- like that
- also, we wear a lot of armor
- cold, heavy, affection-proof armor with spikes
- we constructed this armor as children
- we’re fairly certain you will never be able to pry it apart
- but there is a nice person under there, we promise
things you can do for a friend with an anxiety disorder:
- stick around
- ask them if they’re comfortable in a place or situation
- be willing to change the place or situation if not
- activities that help them take their mind off of things are good!
- talk to them even when they might not talk back
- (they’re probably too afraid to say the wrong thing)
- try not to take their reactions (or lack thereof) personally
- (the way they expresses themself is distorted and bent because of their constant fear)
- (and they knows this)
- give them time to respond to you
- they will obsess over how they are being interpreted
- they will anticipate being judged
- it took me four hours just to type this much
- even though i sound casual
- that’s because i have an anxiety disorder
things you shouldn’t do:
- tell us not to worry
- tell us we’ll be fine
- mistake praise for comfort
- ask us if we are “getting help”
- force us to be social
- force us to do things that trigger us
- “face your fears” doesn’t always work
- because—remember—scared of everything
- in fact, it would be more accurate to say we are scared of the fear itself
emergency action procedure for panic attacks:
- be calm
- be patient
- don’t be condescending
- remind us that we’re not “crazy”
- sit with us
- ask us to tighten and relax our muscles one by one
- remind us that we are breathing
- engage us in a discussion (if we can talk, then we can breathe)
- if we are having trouble breathing, try getting us to exhale slowly
- or breathe through our nose
- or have us put our hands on our stomach to feel each breath
- ask us what needs to change in our environment in order for us to feel safe
- help us change it
- usually, just knowing that we have someone on our side willing to fight our scary monsters with us is enough to calm us down
if you have an anxiety disorder:
- it’s okay.
- even if you worry that it’s not okay.
- it’s still okay. it’s okay to be scared. it’s okay to be scared of being scared.
- you are not crazy. you are not a freak.
- i know there’s a person under all that armor.
- and i know you feel isolated because of it.
- i won’t make you take it off.
- but know that you are not alone.
“But what about the men?”
“But what about the white people?”
“But what about the Christians?”
“But what about the straight people?”
“But what about the cis people?”
“But what about the rich people?”
BNP leader Nick Griffin says his party is through its “rocky patch” and is now “on the up again”, as members gather for their annual conference. Mr Griffin, who was narrowly re-elected party leader in July, told the BBC the majority of the party was behind him. “I’m in charge and that’s the end of it,” he told the BBC Politics Show North West. The a ..read more..
John F. Kennedy
(Though admittedly no fan of the man who started the Vietnam War, I think he was definitely correct when he said these words.)