Saturday, March 23, 2013

That's Crazy Talk

I've never really mentioned why I named this blog Sanity IID. I would assume that it is relatively easy to guess that it has something to do with mental health, but I've never really written about it or held it up to the spotlight. People that either don't suffer from mental illness or have never been around mental illness usually have all the wrong ideas about the cause, side effects, and treatment of mental illness. Most of their information seems to come from either television or the mistaken belief that they have done something right to avoid mental illness so we should just take their advice and do what they want us to do and we'll feel so much better. The problem with these kinds of ideas is to assume that we are somehow incapable of thinking of things for ourselves. They seem to think that we haven't tried these super-simple solutions that they have for resolving all mental illnesses. If we would just smile more, think about our mental illness less, eat better, exercise more, quit sitting around, stop talking about it, etc, etc, etc... then we would be all better.

Greta Christina recently wrote a post in reply to someone that seemed to think that ze had all the answers despite having no mental health problems or training in the field:

Writing publicly about my depression has been extremely helpful. It helps me process it and make sense of it. It helps alleviate the sense of shame I’ve been made to feel about it. It helps me normalize it, and frame it as simply another illness, like my cancer or the time I had pneumonia — which also helps alleviate the shame. The fact that my writing about it helps others gives meaning to it, which makes it more tolerable. There is no possible way that I’m not going to “think deeply” about my depression — that’s part of the nature of depression — but writing about it helps keep those thoughts from spinning into a secret, self-perpetuating black hole. It helps give me insight into it, helps me crystallize and focus those thoughts in a productive way, and helps me move on from them. And when I write about my depression, I often get good suggestions and ideas on how to manage my depression from other people who experience it. I’m not the only one, either: many people I know who experience depression and other mental illness say that being more public about it has helped them.

Major Depressive Disorder (Wikipedia link) isn't something that can be treated by ignoring it. It isn't the kind of depression that someone might have when something goes wrong in their lives. Major Depressive Disorder is something as tangible uncontrollable by conventional wisdom as myopia (Wikipedia link). There are treatments, backed by clinical studies, that can help relieve the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder, but none of them involve the 'ignore it and it will go away' strategy any more than you can ignore nearsightedness and make it go away.

Perhaps some of the people that read Greta's blog don't want to read about depression. I do want to read about it, and I hope she writes about it more often. Her word-crafting is second-to-none, and her insights often give voice to feelings I have but have been unable to express adequately. But I won't complain whether she decides to write about depression or not. What I will do is trust her to write about it if it helps, and not write about it if it is hurtful.

As for why I named this blog Sanity IID, it wasn't until I was given a prescription drug to help with my depression that I was able to stay sane long enough to actually write or keep from deleting all my writing every time the depression hit. The prescription I carried to the drug store was the name of the drug followed by 'II D' aka '2 D' indicating that I should take it twice a day. After a lifetime, I finally got received my sanity in dosages twice daily.

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