Romanticizing Mental Illness, Kurt Cobain and Posterboys for Teen Angst

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

What happens when we emulate the behaviors of our favorite rock stars? 

The Nirvana Age was a prime example of the romanticization of mental illness, and one that stands out as particularly poignant to me as a child of this era.  Kurt Cobain spoke to us because we were broken too, the epitome of teen angst. He was an example of what a little bullied child could aspire to. He was proof that even a troubled little boy whose parents shuttled him from one home to another could find love in legions of fans. We heard his brokenness, saw his success and aspired to overcome as he had. 

But he hadn’t. And instead of acknowledging that this guy needed help, high school students embraced Smells Like Teen Spirit as their anthem. Like Robin Williams, we saw only what we wanted to in Kurt Cobain.

And we were wrong....  continue reading

"Don't Wear That!" The Evolutionary Roots of Daisy Dukes, Victim Blaming and Patriarchy

Monday, August 17, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

“Hey, Harry, put on longer shorts. You don’t want the neighbors talking.”  

“John, why don’t you wear a sweater over your tee-shirt?”

“Kyle, are you really wearing your ‘fuck me’ heels to the office? You’ll never be taken seriously dressing like that.”

We’ve got a lot of sexual baggage, ladies, and some of it revolves around what we wear. We are overtly, and subtly, told that our clothing choices can lead to attacks, to pain, to shame. Because our bodies are not a normal part of our existence. They are ticking time bombs. We must keep our sexuality under wraps, lest we get what we deserve; just this month a Virginia university demanded a rape victim provide a list of her past sexual partners. What in the actual fuck? 

MEN! Amiright, ladies?!? 

But, sexism and elements of fear and blame are also furthered by well-meaning women. And we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Without addressing our own role in the perpetuation of some of these elements, we are unlikely to be able to enforce real change, particularly in a culture where these elements are so ingrained that they are essentially invisible. ...  continue reading

Is Racism a Mental Illness? Either Way, Screw Dylann Roof

Monday, June 22, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Dylann Roof. Holy shit.

In the last week I have watched the media scramble to attribute the murders of nine innocent people to anything but racism. 

“It was an attack against religion, not blacks.”

“He was mentally ill. This isn’t a race issue.”

Yeah, it’s not like Roof flat out said, “I want to hurt black people.” Because if something like that happened, you’d look like a tool, Fox and Friends. 

Facepalm.

There is a fine line between what we consider psychological disorder and personality (more here). Roof was, and is, a racist motherfucker. But is he also mentally ill? 

I’m not talking about the lack of empathy it takes to gun down innocents in cold blood. I’m wondering whether racism, in and of itself, should be considered a mental illness. And this, my friends, is a complex question....  continue reading

Transraciality And Why Rachel Dolezal Is A F*cking Liar

Friday, June 19, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who climbed the ranks of the NAACP while posing as a black women. 

Now, maybe she is actually ill enough to believe that she’s black. Such is the nature of delusions, though an interview with a delusional individual would have gone more like:

Interviewer: “Are you African American?”

Delusional white person: “Hell yes I am!” 

And not: 

Interviewer: “Are you African American?”

Dolezal: (eye twitch, mouth stiffening) “I don’t understand the question.” 

You understood, lady. You might be a liar, but you aren’t stupid.

Let us put aside the fake father she put on social media. Let us ignore her dark-skinned brother she tried to pass of as her child. Let us also put aside the fact that Dolezal sued Howard University because she felt that African American students were given preference over her. She didn’t claim “but…I identify as black.” She said, “You discriminated against me because I am white.” Maybe it was true. The judge didn’t think so.

I would guess, based on what I know of her history, that she has a diagnosable condition, brought on by abuse and a severely dysfunctional early environment. There is also evidence that her parents outed her as white to discredit her as a witness against another family member who is currently accused of sexual assault. And I suspect that there is a part of her that feels justified in lying based on her experience with Howard. She can further justify her actions by acknowledging that she may not have been accepted had she applied to the NAACP as a white woman, and that regardless of how she got the job, she has done some first-rate work with the organization. Because of this, her stepping aside may or may not even be the best thing for all involved. But that’s not the issue at hand, is it? That’s not where our focus is as a nation. People want to know whether transraciality is really a thing, like transsexuality is a thing. 

Um, no. At least not the way Dolezal wants it to be.  ...  continue reading

Bipolar Disorder, Creativity and Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor

Thursday, April 09, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

“Bipolar disorder isn't a death sentence, but it is a life sentence. How I do the time has changed.” ~Lance Burson, Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor

In the last post (here), I discussed bipolar disorder as an evolutionary system bent on survival, with periods of productivity interspersed between periods of depressed function as a way to reserve resources. With all these evolutionary links, and twisty interconnected brain wiring, it is no surprise that those who suffer from bipolar or related conditions tend to experience periods of creativity, either due to the wiring itself of due to a need to use creative process as an outlet. 

To drive this point home, I’ve invited one of the editors of Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor to share her experiences with creative release and Bipolar Disorder. Then I am going to tell you more about this book because it’s a rarity that you find something that normalizes so many conditions in one place and everyone should read it....  continue reading

Rocking the Boat (and Everything Else): Stereotypic Movement Disorders, Autism, Triggers and Treatments

Thursday, April 02, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Stereotypic movement disorders or bodily focused repetitive movements (BFRM) are repetitive actions that may involve physical harm to the person doing them. In smaller children, these movements may be normal as they try to control very big feelings. But they can become problematic, especially in older children. While no specific cause has been found for some stereotypic movement disorders, they do tend to increase with stress, boredom and frustration. And there is a great deal of overlap between stereotypic movement disorders and impulse control disorders like excoriation (skin picking) and many specific behaviors can fall under both the impulse control umbrella and the movement disorder umbrella.

Stereotypic movement disorders are common in those with OCD, younger children, abused or neglected children, those with mental retardation and the autistic population. SMDs also tend to be present with stimulant drug use, such as amphetamines and cocaine, though whether you should walk up to a crack addict and yell, “Hey! That’s a stereotypic movement issue!” is a grey area. I’m going to go with, “Leave him alone,” but that’s me....  continue reading