Accountability (A Rant). … excerpts from the blog of …but she’s crazy
In all honesty, Iam sensitive to feeling underestimated. After far too many years of being belittled, discounted, and written off by friends, lovers, and assorted other folks, who wouldn’t be?! I’ve far too often felt frustrated in various relationships in which people seemed to completely miss or overlook my efforts toward health and, in one way or another, blamed me for having a lack of accountability. Some of them straight-out accused me of making excuses for feeling upset or depressed or hopeless. But I always did the best I could with what I had and knew at any given moment.
From the very beginning, waaaay back in high school, I have always and persistently sought help for my troubles. The meds, the therapy appointments, the mountains of books I’ve inhaled, the countless hours of self-examination and analysis, the often painful and acute self-awareness — all of it has often gone unnoticed by all but me, my family, and my medical team. And that’s damned disheartening. I’m tired of it, sick to death of getting granted no credit, of people being so quick to judge and slap some label on me instead of stopping and taking a closer look to see the human being fighting for and working toward her health. And while my outward appearance may not have readily attested to all of that, it was always there, if anyone had really been listening.
If I were to put a name on that overall experience, it would be stigma. People either misunderstood or feared what my mental illness meant, or maybe even couldn’t or wouldn’t recognize that I have a mental illness. That ignorance, be it willful or learned, is stigma. And I hate it. It’s also why I find Hal’s attitude appalling. He represents a group (NAMI) whose partial mission is extinguishing stigma. Surely, Hal himself must have encountered stigma throughout his journey. But just because one person’s mental illness or optimal style of living doesn’t resemble your own, that doesn’t mean they’re fair game for judgment. People don’t come to NAMI Commections to be judged.
The fact that the sickness was of a mental rather than physical persuasion doesn’t make it any less debilitating. What part of chronic and severe depression do you not understand, Hal? You who have struggled with Bipolar I and drug and alcohol addiction throughout your life — how do you not know and empathize with the devastating effects of the downside of that bipolar roller coaster? If I had cancer and was weak and bedridden from pain and chemo treatments, would I lack accountability for not going out and getting a job or exercising regularly? If I fell down a flight of stairs and was in a full body cast would I be lacking in accountability because I was too confined and exhausted by healing that I didn’t answer phone calls or follow through with much of anything besides eating and sleeping? Any reasonable person would answer no to those questions. Why then would anyone — no less a mental health peer — not extend the same consideration to non-physical ailments?