Internet, we need to have a talk.

I’ve had a number of readers ask why I’ve neglected to write about Amanda Bynes this last year. It’s simple, really. I don’t believe that celebrities are “fair game,” and that, when they have very human and very difficult struggles, I should capitalize on those things by writing an article, however well-intentioned. I believe they are deserving of privacy and respect, by virtue of their being people.

However, I’m making an exception here, because in the midst of the negative and callous press that Bynes has received, I think it’s time we had a chat about it from a different perspective. And then, after we’re done, I think it’s time we stop speculating about it altogether. Deal?

First and foremost, there is no way for us to know what, if anything, Bynes has been diagnosed with. The family has denied schizophrenia and bipolar diagnoses. And when I write this article about Bynes, I am only operating on the possibility – not the assumption – that these diagnoses are true.

Until Amanda Bynes comes out and self-identifies this way, it is not our place to make an assumption about her mental state. Most of us are not psychiatrists, and even if we were, none of us can make a diagnosis based on a Twitter feed. And it is Bynes’ prerogative to keep certain aspects of her life, including her health care, private.

For the sake of argument, we’re going to roll with the possibility, not the assumption, that Bynes may have bipolar and schizophrenia.

And on that note, I’m going to offer you a sobering statistic:

People with co-occurring bipolar and schizophrenia have one of the highest suicide attempt rates of any group. 70.6% of these individuals will attempt suicide in their lifetime.

You would think this would frighten us, and that we would be offering Bynes compassion on the mere basis that what she may be facing is, without a doubt, deadly.

Yet the vast majority of press and articles surrounding Bynes’ mental state seems to ignore the stark reality of her struggle, and instead, opt to mock her erratic and unusual behavior. Rather than recognizing that she may have an illness, they have turned mental illness into a spectacle to watch, enjoy, and ridicule.

We, as a culture, are alarmingly desensitized to the seriousness of mental illness, particularly when it affects celebrities. Whenever a famous person has a “breakdown,” or goes off to rehab, there is always a sensationalized headline and a gawking that we collectively do. We treat it like a performance to consume and be shocked by, to laugh at, to enjoy.

We have made mental illness into a form of entertainment, and this is reflected in the articles that have been written about Amanda Bynes as of late.

If no one has explained this to you, let me be the first to say that it is morally repugnant that we, as a society, are mocking mentally ill people.

If it is indeed true that Amanda Bynes has both bipolar and schizophrenia, she faces an uphill battle. These are both diseases with high mortality rates, and devastating symptoms that are difficult to treat. And while she faces these illnesses, the entire world is watching. To have the audacity of laughing and poking fun as she struggles with these painful disorders is truly disgusting.

It’s all fun and games until someone dies, as was the case with Robin Williams. When celebrities have very public “breakdowns,” we find them entertaining, sensational, intriguing. When celebrities die from these illnesses, however, we grieve for them, celebrate their lives, and profess our sympathy for their struggle.

Amanda Bynes may be battling two illnesses that could very easily kill her. Why is she not receiving the same level of respect, tact, and compassion that we afford those who have already died at the hands of these same illnesses?

Are we only deserving of dignity and respect if we die?

Does Amanda Bynes need to die by suicide before we will start valuing her life? How fucked up is that?

No matter what Bynes posts on twitter, or what wigs she wears, what we need to understand as outsiders is that something very difficult and frightening is happening to Amanda Bynes — and it is irresponsible to talk about it any other way, whether it’s to poke fun at it, or reduce it to her being “crazy.” In either scenario, it diminishes her personhood.

Why this reminder needs to happen is beyond me, but apparently it does: Bynes needs compassion, not ridicule, not laughter. Her struggles, whatever they may be, do not exist for your enjoyment.

Anyone who thinks an involuntary psychiatric hold is fun or amusing is horribly misguided. Anyone who thinks psychosis or paranoia is a walk in the park has clearly never been there. Anyone who thinks schizophrenia or bipolar is hilarious has never had their life devastated by these disorders.

I have. And I can tell you – there’s no pain on earth quite like it.

Anyone who has forgotten that Amanda Bynes is a human being first and foremost needs to step back, and do some serious soul-searching.

Any journalist or columnist who thinks Bynes’ behavior is great material for a lighthearted article needs to reexamine their motivations, and decide for themselves what kind of writer they want to be. Someone who profits off of someone’s pain? Or someone with integrity?

As someone with bipolar disorder, I want to offer a reminder to those who do not suffer from the disorder that making a mockery out of our struggle is dehumanizing. This should go without saying, but apparently it must be said: Mental illness is not a joke. Mental illness is not funny. Mental illness does not exist to amuse you.

If Amanda Bynes has taught us anything, it’s that mental illness can, in fact, touch anyone. It exists in every community, every city, every race, every social class, every gender. Celebrities are not immune to these devastating disorders. In fact, 13.6 million Americans live with a serious mental illness, and if Amanda Bynes is among them, she will need support and compassion to get through it.

What message are we sending, as journalists, bloggers, and writers, if we treat mental illness with the same brevity and amusement as writing about Kim Kardashian’s ass?

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Did you cry when Robin Williams died, but laugh when Amanda Bynes was taken to the hospital? Why is that? I’m challenging you to really think about the ways that we treat folks with mental illness.

When we make these disorders into a joke, we become complicit in creating a culture where mentally ill people are taught to feel ashamed, isolated, and broken. And when we uphold that stigma instead of challenging it, it’s not surprising that so many people with these illnesses opt to take their own lives.

We need to do better. Not just for Amanda Bynes, but for all the people worldwide who suffer from these disorders.

It’s not a spectacle. It’s a goddamn illness.

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UPDATE (10/20/14): Due to the confusion surrounding the title, the article has been renamed from “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Dies: Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness,” to omit the first portion. The intent of the original title was to compare and contrast the treatment of celebrities before and after they die — never to suggest that Bynes had passed away.

UPDATE (10/22/14): A new article has been written in response to this piece going viral.

UPDATE (11/9/14): Commenters have pointed out that co-occurring bipolar and schizophrenia is commonly referred to as “schizoaffective disorder.”

UPDATE (11/14/14): There is now an animated version of this article!

As of 11/15, comments have been disabled on this article.

 

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588 comments

    1. I really have to agree because I myself have the disorder my self and there are others who do not give a rats ass how we feel as long as these asses get what it is they want and then they are happy and who cares what the other person feels I would love to help others out that have this disease and do what I could to make them happy. I will stop here as my story would take up many pages of what I have and at the present time am going through. I really do not know what to do any more about my problem.

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  1. this article was written beautifully. It is so frustrating to see everyone jump to conclusions and give their (generally uneducated) opinions when likely they have not encountered mental illnesses like this before. I have seen many tweets lately saying things like “I hope Amanda’s family cares about her and finally gets her the help she needs”. They are not understanding that it is really up to Amanda to get help. Her family and friends can’t help her if she doesnt want it. My brother, prior to dying in a hiking accident 3 years ago, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and aspberger syndrome as well. He was not diagnosed until around 14 and by that point all of his illnesses has completely taken over him. He didn’t want counciling, he didn’t want medication, he felt there was nothing “wrong” with him and we were the ones that needed help. He was paranoid and abusive, he had serious anger issues and he would wander around the area we lived in for hours. This was during high school, and everyone would call him crazy and a freak and weird and ask me “what the hell is wrong with your brother”. What people with mental illnesses need most is COMPASSION. We need to stop judging them and being harsh because that does not help at all. Mental illness is a terrible and difficult thing to deal with and overcome but we need to start focusing more on it! There are so many people in the world with these disorders but it only gets attention when “Amanda Bynes goes crazy again”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anyone, who has ever witnessed the tears or seen the confusion on the face of a mentally ill person, especially one who is near and dear, knows that mental illness is NOT fun and games. My sister suffers from bi-polar disorder. As she raised her children. we saw many severe ups and downs. She spent time in the psychiatric ward of our local hospital. s sisters, we took care of her very confused children. Even though now, the episodes are almost non-existent, she has been severely stigmatized. She has her quirks I’ll admit, but REALLY? The school board has deemed her “not fit” to volunteer even to have children read to her, or help with parent lunches! Parents are scared of her monitoring their children on the playground or even being anywhere near her! EDUCATION people, is the key! We all have deficits! where does charity come in? How can we help these people feel wanted, needed and loved? We can do it if we understand because we choose to be informed!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. i think the author needs to remind themselves that everything Amanda Bynes has done that’s led to her being “mocked” was In the public domain, on a SOCIAL MEDIA website. It’s not her fault if she has some mental illness, but everyone needs to be accountable for what they do and share publicly online. She spent what seems like a long time broadcasting the equivalent of “I’m fucking crazy,” and it’s expected that she’ll be met with sympathy? Get real, welcome to the Internet, if you can’t handle the aspect of social media that everyone can see what you do and say, forever, then stay offline.

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    1. I don’t want to reply to this, because nothing can be said to change the ignorance that the media has given you. (I don’t mean that as an insult, but as a “the media has desensitized you”.) You really shouldn’t judge someone based on the characters they play on T.V. or in movies. You’ve seemed to have missed the point of this entire post.

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    2. I am diagnosed with schizophrenia, and am glad that there was no such thing as social media when I was ill and didn’t know what I was doing. This year I was on the cover of USA Today because of my involvement with Stand Up For Mental Health. Mentally ill people have to deal with all the stereo-types that are in the media, and this can lead to self fulfilled prophesies ~ where the mentally ill person acts out what society expects them to be as a mentally ill person. ~ Jessica Dawson

      Liked by 2 people

    3. You must be a complete and total idiot if that’s really your thought process. Her mental illness in itself results in these things she posts. Basically, what you’re saying is the equivalent to saying if a person who clearly has a mental illness says something or does something that you don’t approve or believe is appropriate or normal, they deserve to be mocked? I think that you need to remind yourself that Amanda Bynes is just as much a person as you are, though she doesn’t necessarily have the privilege of being able to go through shit and not have the entire world laugh at her for it, nor does she have the mental state of which she can realize that maybe she shouldn’t post onto social media websites. It’s not about handling the aspect of social media, it’s about having enough morals and just genuinely understanding that the way we respond to examples of metal illness in the media, is wrong.

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    4. Your position is: People will be assholes so I will be an asshole so fuck you and fuck whomever is ill while famous, or even ill while on SOCIAL MEDIA.

      That’s pretty weak reasoning.

      The point is that the following option exists: don’t respond to someone else’s involuntary pain with nihilistic glee.

      Why do you think abandoning this option is better than exercising it?

      What the hell is wrong with being sympathetic to a suffering person?

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    5. My bipolar friend broadcasts many of her manic thoughts on Facebook, similar to what Amanda Bynes has done. I don’t think my friend really understands what she’s doing when she’s manic. She becomes a person that I don’t even recognize when she is in her manic state. If you think that someone who is bipolar or schizophrenic has a decent enough grasp of reality to keep “their craziness” contained than I can’t help but think that you don’t quite understand how mental illness works.

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    6. She’s possibly having a psychotic episode and you are angry that she’s not acting as she would if she were sane? Regardless of whether or not this is an episode of psychosis, there’s clearly something major going on, and she needs compassion, not mockery.

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    7. Wow!!! Did you just become the poster child for ignorance and insensitivity with regard to mental illness or what?

      You state that while it’s not her fault that she has a mental illness, that she nevertheless has to take responsibility for her actions and what she posts online. You imply that because she posts some “crazy” stuff online while in the midst of an episode, that somehow this makes her fair game.

      What you fail to appreciate is that in the midst of an episode she likely has diminished control over her actions and little to no appreciation of the consequences.

      I have bipolar disorder and have, during one episode or another, done many things which I later understood were irrational but at the time seemed perfectly sane and sensible things to do. I once spent $3000 I couldn’t afford on a trombone I didn’t know how to play, on the spur of the moment, because it looked cool.

      So get off your high horse and recognise that mental illness can impact a person’s ability to think clearly and rationally, and behave accordingly.

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    8. If she is in fact struggling with an illness, she may not have the capacity to understand exactly how her actions/posts will affect her. Or simpler yet, her perspective at this time may not include the “black and white” depiction of right and wrong you describe above. Leaving her unable to accurately judge whether or not the internet is something she can handle appropriately at this point in her life.
      I beleive that the point of this article, in simplest terms, is to ask the public as human beings to discontinue degrading another human being. One that is very clearly struggling. This does not come down the whether or not you deem her stable or coherent enough to have “asked” for it.
      Amanda Bynes has been in the spotlight for most of her life, and for most of mine she has been America’s “sweetheart” teen star. We have publicly witnessed her mental health spiral and have see her behave in ways that completely oppose her former ideals. Mental illness doesn’t care who you are, what you believe, or what you desire to achieve in life. Its invasive and consuming of your identity. This to me deserves sympathy.
      It deserves the kindess of the public.
      We all deserve the ability to feel human and to be treated as one.

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    9. So people with mental disorders shouldn’t be allowed on social media? That’s what you’re saying. You dont always think clearly or know what youre doing or the severity of it. She could tweet “im crazy” and think nothing of it until hours later. Thats pretty ridiculous that you’re implying all mentally unstable people should stay offline because they have moments where they dont realize what they’re posting. This author said hes bipolar, should he stay off the internet too incase he ever says anything wrong? Your logic is quite ridiculous.

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  4. Thank you for writing this fantastic piece on mental illness. One of my beloved aunts is bipolar. Her whole life, she struggled to get a real diagnosis. After several suicide attempts, her many sisters (my mother included) have continued to be unnecessarily cruel in their dealings with her. They blame her for her actions, they believe she “does things” to them, and say things to her like “just get over it” and “she’s looking for attention”. My own mother has told me that “she’s evil” and that “I know it’s a ‘mental illness’ but she chooses to act that way.” They are offended by her and have pushed her out of their lives.

    It hurts my heart. I feel like there are so few of us who accept and love her for who she is. So thank you for writing this… And I’m so glad I found your blog.

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  5. Oh for heaven sake this is what annoys me about assumptions. I bet you if she actually revealed to the public that she was mentally ill, they would feel more sympathetic towards her. But her erratic behaviour and outlandish tweets just makes her look like a joke. And whose fault is that? Is certainly isn’t mine. If she wants to tweet silly, insensitive and highly offensive tweets then that’s her business. She is the one who will carry the backlash. It’s not as if she’s the innocent party.

    I understand what you are saying. But really, she hasn’t done herself any favours in her tweets and crazy antics she has done. I think if she were mentally ill she would have stopped the silly things she’s being doing. But she hasn’t so I think it’s all for attention to get back into the public eye. I mean, I’m no psychiatrist but playing a lot of different characters on The Amanda Show probably did do something to her brain (JUST MAYBE). However, I cannot feel anything towards someone who does those things and not seeks help. Her parents should have stepped in as soon as they saw something was not right. Yes, Amanda has a right to her privacy but invasion of privacy comes with the deal of being in the public eye. I personally think it’s unethical and wrong but it happens. Some people thing war is unethical and abortions, but it still happens.

    I also favour someone who said that you are defending someone who is obviously not in the current mental state of a sane person. And you are defending her? Would it be right to defend a rapist? I know some lawyers do, but you can tell Amanda isn’t well yet you claim it’s our fault for having an opinion on the things she does….

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    1. Did you really just compare someone with a mental illness to a rapist? Do you really believe that those are synonymous issues at all?

      Being mentally ill is not a crime. People with these illnesses are not criminals. They are survivors.

      You have utterly missed the point of this article, which is fine, but what bothers me more than that is that you have compared mental illness to rape. That is disgusting.

      I ask that you please review the “comment policy” of this blog before commenting again. Let’s Queer Things Up! is a safe space, and hateful comments that attack marginalized communities will NOT be tolerated.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Woah….mental illness is the same as rape??? Then I am afraid that if your brain actually thinks this way, then maybe it is you who need to seek help. Saying that it’s on her because of her tweets, and making like she knew what she was doing is also a very wrong statement. It’s a MENTAL ILLNESS!! Meaning there is an issue with the brain…with the chemicals….with how things are wired….with what may be lacking in that wiring. And yet, with that all said, somehow a person has complete control over what they do. No. No they do not. However, you have complete control over what you just wrote. You are the one who just compared someone who is mentally incapacitated…..to a rapist. Oh, and further….maybe she didn’t seek help because in the frame of mind of someone going through an “episode”, they don’t think there is anything wrong. To them it is normal. I have lived it with an ex…and I live it with my mother-in-law, who by the way is one of the funniest women I know. I suggest you go to the library and start reading some diagnosis material. Better yet….volunteer at your local sanitarium. I am sure they would appreciate some fresh blood. Does that scare you? You won’t? Why not? You are the normal one……remember???

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    2. I won’t acknowledge the “mentally ill is to rapist” analogy because it is far too asinine. However, I will say this:

      Mental illness is an illness for a reason and a person can’t be responsible for the effects of that illness on his or her state of mind. While Ms. Bynes might tweet things that are “silly” to us they might be “rational” in her state of mind. Mental illness distorts what is real and because of that the person can’t be accountable. And really? Does this have to be explained to you?

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    3. This is an extremely ignorant response. I hope to god you are joking making the comparison that somebody with an mental illness is similar to that of a rapist. If you have not been around mental illness then you are lucky. But if you really think that “she just would have stopped by now if she was sick, why didn’t her parents do anything??” Her parents are going out of their fucking minds, she is 28 years old and you can only legally hold a person 1)if you can find them 2) for a certain period of time, forcing somebody to take psychiatric drugs is a whole different story, a lot of time people don’t think they have a problem and won’t take meds or take them until they are stable and stop. If you think it’s ok to laugh at somebody who is going through something that could quite possibly be a deteriorating mental state than clearly you have failed to be a compassionate human being and frankly your response is not only childish but extremely misinformed. I am hoping that some 15 year old who knows nothing about mental illness and it’s devastating effects posted this because if not well god have mercy on whoever the hell ends with you as a spouse.

      Liked by 1 person

    4.  “I think if she were mentally ill she would have stopped the silly things she’s being doing. But she hasn’t so I think it’s all for attention ”

      Because, as we learn in psyche 101, the way you can determine once and for all that a person is mentally ill is that they stop doing silly things.

      That’s why mental illness is so difficult. It just makes you behave in perfectly normal ways under all conditions.

      And yeah, trying to in some small way defend a sick person from ridicule is the moral equivalent of defending a rapist.

      What alternative dimension are you posting from?

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Jordan, I sincerely, sincerely appreciate and respect everyone’s right to disagree, but as a woman (albeit OLD WOMAN), I really take issue with the “rapist comparison”. It’s highly imflamatory, derogative and just plain “unkind”…I read your response. I respect that we “differ”, but let’s have a modicum of kindness and respect wdyou might just take a different stance of this. I don’t know. I don’t know you. Anyway, that’s just “this old lady’s feelings”…Namaste. 🙂

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    6. As you said, you’re not a psychiatrist. Please don’t make assumptions about things you know nothing about.

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    7. Lol. Rape and a mental disorder are not the same at all lol
      It is our fault. You shouldn’t belittle someone for having a disorder. You should reach out and help them. If she cant help her behavior, then we shouldnt be making fun of it, we should be understanding. As the author said, its all fun and games, till someone dies.

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  6. Hate to be a conspiracy theorist here, but she is a by-product of years of manipulation by the TV and movie industry (some call it Monarch Programming) and neglect. Married with low self esteem, you really don’t need a dual diagnosis to edge into addiction. She has the disease of addiction in her family as well….it was written in the stars before she even got started that she would become and addict/alcoholic. I pray for her sobriety, and that she has at least one person that loves her for her. Period.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do agree with you here, regardless of what the illness is, I hope that someone is looking out for her. Addiction is a possibility, and a tragic possibility at that, but with no way to confirm what’s going on, we can really only speculate at this point. We’re all conspiracy theorists right now, until Bynes discloses what’s happening, if she ever does — which is her prerogative one way or the other.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent article. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for speaking out. I would like to add a side note, if I may. Although I do not suppose that Kim Kardashian is suffering from any real mental illness, and has rather made a calculated effort to put herself in the public conversation, I think we should apply your beautifully expressed sentiments to all of humanity. The KKs of the world might not need our compassion in the same way and for the same reasons that those with mental illness do, but we as human beings should not find pleasure in the mockery of any person. I do not agree with KK’s pursuit of self exploitation, but I harm myself, and humanity in general, if I choose to belittle her. While the reasons to extend compassion to those with mental illness should be glaringly obvious to all, we would do well to view all of mankind through the lens of compassion. We need to stop this culture of mockery.

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  8. I think society too easily forgets the “illness” in mental illness. When a person in the public eye has cancer we excuse all sorts of things (that don’t need to be excused anyway) because they are sick. But suddenly when it’s a psychiatric problem it doesn’t count as illness. We don’t ridicule those that go out in public with no hair after cancer treatment because they “can’t control it they’re sick”. But we don’t offer that same grace to someone who battles an illness of the mind. And I don’t get it. At all.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well said, My mother suffered from mental illness most of her life and I spent a lot of my life helping admit her to hospitals, caring for her, visiting her in psych wards and waking her up in the morning. She now has Alzheimer’s disease, to add insult to injury. Mental illness is no laughing matter. I wish it received the same respect as physical illnesses do. Same goes for insurance — mental illness always gets short shrift. Best, Erica

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is amazingly written. I hope some take this to heart, because as easy as it is to ‘make light’ of things one doesn’t understand it is not ok to make fun of another’s struggle. Putting labels on people is merely a way to help professionals understand a condition enough to compare it to known cases for possible treatments. But labels used by the uneducated are flung like insults (along with blatant insults in some cases). Regardless of a persons success in life, luck, richness or poverty – all people deserve compassion. Thank you for putting this article out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is beautifully written. Thank you for your compassion, disclosure and perspective on mental illness. Articles like this are far and few between. I challenge the comment about the messages being sent if writing about mental illness in an amusing way like when discussing kim kardashian- why is it okay to amusingly write about a women’s body? Why should body parts and body image be a topic allowed to be target of humor? Low self esteem and body image can create eating disorders- another aspect of mental illness rarely discussed. I encourage us to reexamine the value placed on mocking body type and be mindful of where we place the value of a person.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. mental illness, is by far not a laughing matter. It is not totally understood and is so hard on everyone involved. My daughter is bipolar and as it is very hard on her, it is equally hard on her children. They know that Mom is bipolar and though I’m sure at their ages, ten and twelve, they try their hardest, but it is also so very hard on them. There is good times and bad times, but when the bad times hit and they have witness the good time and the love that their Mom has for them. Some times family members try and try to do what is best for their child that has a mental illness but….all I can say is, speaking from experience it is hard on everyone involved especially the children…who love their Mom unconditionally.

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  13. Great article, and good to see mental health featured in the freshly pressed section.

    As a student mental health nurse I realise it’s going to be an uphill struggle to change attitudes and educate others about mental illness (something I will still be learning new things about from many people I meet for many decades to come I’m sure). It’s sad and frustrating for some people to see it as a personal choice.

    Additionally, I think there is still quite a fear surrounding mental health which might cause others to detach from it and dehumanise.

    I remain optimistic that I will see changes in understanding and attitudes to this in my lifetime – and intended to do what I can to try and facilitate that.

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Robin Williams had a 40+ year long career with numerous accolades before he succumbed. Amanda Bynes is, I think, seen as yet another spoiled child actor who never had boundaries and that’s why she is “on drugs” and “out of control”? He is venerated, she’s a twit. Not that I really think this, I feel bad that her problems are set up for public ridicule.

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    1. So because she had more money than most throughout her life, you feel she deserves to suffer and die from a debilitating mental illness that results in taking her own life!? Where did your empathy go to die? It just makes me sad the world is still full of this bull.

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  15. What a fantastic article. I have rapid cycle bipolar and a personality disorder. I also have dyskinisia through the drugs used to treat me when I was trying to take my own life. This article is spot on and I thank you!couldnt have said this any better!

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  16. You had me at ” I am only operating on the possibility – not the assumption – that these diagnoses are true.”. I love that you were not assuming or speculating on another’s struggle. We all have them. I applaud how you wrote that. It is so easy to pass judgement and as I do not know what Amanda has dealt with and not aware of it at all in fact, I pray that whatever her struggle is….is between she and God to work out!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on A.R.T. and commented:
    “When we make these disorders into a joke, we become complicit in creating a culture where mentally ill people are taught to feel ashamed, isolated, and broken. And when we uphold that stigma instead of challenging it, it’s not surprising that so many people with these illnesses opt to take their own lives.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Eloquently stated article, Sam! I wonder when society is going to acknowledge (and validate!) mental illness as just THAT: an ILLNESS! And give it the respect and validation that it is sorely lacking! My compliments to you, Sir, for having the courage and fortitude to do just that!!!! Way to go! 🙂 I think until you’ve “worn someone else’s shoes for a day”, you should reserve judgement, but then, again, that’s just this little old ladies opinion!!! Be well, My Friend!! 🙂

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  19. Sam –
    I’m sure you don’t have time to read all comments, however, thank you for sharing your opinion and making an attempt to provide some perspective for those who aren’t (fill in the blank).

    I too am a survivor, a 4-time survivor. I have bi-polar type 1 disorder. My episodes are extreme and last for months at a time when out of control. I live in shame in the aftermath of my behavior for a long time after the more severe episodes. I’ve been bad enough to become psychotic and have no memory of way too many things that occur during those times.

    It is terrifying to think we can be so out of control. We have to stay diligent and be aware of our actions and mental state. Every day.

    I don’t understand the general public’s fascination with a celebrity (any public persona) breakdown. Yes. It’s a disease. It’s sad. They’re suffering.

    We wouldn’t mock someone’s extreme behavior as a result of cancer, autism, mental retardation or down’s syndrome. Why is mental disease an open target? Perhaps people mock what they fear and don’t (or want to) understand.

    I’m just happy to be alive.

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy that you’re alive, too — and while I can’t respond to every comment all the time, I do my best to at least read them. 🙂 Sending lots of light your way.

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  20. This was a great write up. I think the reason society tends to do this is because we all looked up to Williams, but Bynes… well, people find it easier to mock her because she never had all the respect Williams had before he died, if what I’m saying makes sense. We all need to treat each other with compassion.

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  21. As some wise PR campaigns have described, telling someone to snap out of mental illness is like saying, “Hey, snap out of diabetes!” Many times, when a person is experiencing serious and persistent mental illness, the person may have little to no insight or awareness of their behavior. This is why many people don’t take medication and/or attend treatment that can help them stay safe from making poor choices. This isn’t an illness of choice, folks. It’s an illness in your BRAIN. Your brain is an organ in your body that happens to regulate your behavior and that includes how you think and feel about yourself and your behavior. Pretty wild, eh? Just like any major illness affecting other organs in your body, mental illness directly affects the quality of your life. Untreated, it can lead to premature death (suicide or getting oneself killed due to poor choices). Unfortunately, Halloween is a time of year we lampoon mental illness through caricatures of “crazy” people. Next time you watch a scary show, take a minute to consider if that show is exploiting our fears for profit and who really pays the cost.

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  22. Wow. Such powerful and true words, and ones I needed to hear considering I, too, have judged her at times for her behavior instead of realizing that she needs love and care. Thanks for writing this.

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  23. Thank you so much for your beautifully written words on the struggles of mental illness. I’ve always thought that mental illness wasn’t taken seriously by those unfamiliar with the pain it truly brings your life on a daily basis. As a society, we are losing our empathy for one another because of the distance technology puts between us and that makes me sad. I also feel that people’s own suffering make it hard for them to have empathy for others when they can barely handle their own issues. Whatever the reason for the lack of sympathy and kindness, it is nice to know there are others in the world who feel differently.

    I suffer from mild autism, as well as general anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder and my husband has bipolar disorder. Between the two of us, we have faced so much adversity and misunderstandings because of how our mental illnesses get in the way of everyday life. I can’t even imagine the extra struggle we would face if we were being laughed at by the public and our pain belittled by journalists. Bipolar schizophrenics tend to be paranoid already, so giving them more reasons to not trust the world seems like your trying to kill them yourselves.

    We really need to help each other on this planet, not use people’s pain as a source of entertainment. I know I am personally tired of the judgement I get for having a hard time with things most people find easy in life.

    Thank you for this article. The world needs to start speaking up about these things and I’m glad it’s happening more everyday.

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  24. Hi! My son was 21 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia 3 years ago. He died on september 9th of this year. The day before he committed suicide on the 6th. He went to the hospital to try to get help, but they turned him down. He hung hisself and was in Icu until I took him off life support on the 9th. Something really need to be done about this illness. It is really serious.

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    1. I am so deeply sorry to hear about the passing of your son. That is an unthinkable loss, and a loss that should never have happened.

      I couldn’t agree more — something needs to be done. And there are so many advocates doing everything they can to raise awareness. I will continue to use my voice to advocate for people like your son, who suffered needlessly and lost their lives too soon. I hope you will, too.

      I am just one person, but the fact that my article could be read around the world tells me that more people care about this issue than we realize. And imagine what we could accomplish if we all used our voices?

      Sending you so much love and light, to you and all of your loved ones — and to your son, wherever he rests now.

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  25. I can totally relate I suffer with severe depression and anxiety and it effects me on a daily basis you take your medication as directed yet you still don’t feel human. My heart goes out to her any anyone else suffering from this inherited gene. Maybe someday on my lifetime they’ll find a cure. until than its a fight that is never ending.

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  26. Thank you for this blog!
    I have been battling severe bipolar 2 for 8 years now.
    This is all very true and I am glad you have wrote about this.
    I have sympathy for anyone with a “real” mental illness.
    It is totally scary and I to have had many scary episodes with this disease.

    Love,

    Dori<3

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  27. Mental illness is not a joke. I’ve been suffering with anxiety and depression for over 2 years and I still struggle on a daily basis. Every single day is a battle for me and it’s likely to be that way for the rest of my life. Yes, I’m taking medicine and yes, I’m in therapy. But even that can only do so much. Mental illness is real. People aren’t making this up for entertainment or for laughs. We don’t laugh at people who have cancer or diabetes do we? No. Because that would be extremely cruel. Yet, we laugh at people who suffer from mental illness. We tell them to simply “get over it”. We think such people are just seeking attention.

    That’s why we need to talk more about mental health. Every day I have to wake up and force myself to get out of bed and interact with the world when all I’d rather do is curl up and forget everything. Anxiety reeks havoc on my everyday life causing me to avoid what should seem like a simple thing. Dark thoughts plague my mind frequently that I can’t seem to shut off. The feelings of failure and worthlessness are ever present. Yet, I have to put on a smile for everyone because they don’t understand. You think I want to feel like I’m on the verge of crying for no real reason all the time? Or that I enjoy the crippling fear that anxiety brings me? Do you think I enjoy being in such emotional pain that I can barely even get out of bed? This is my life.

    It’s not something I chose. It’s not entertaining at all.

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  28. I have loved Amanda all my life, and I understand she is ill. However, it is a terrible thing that she has gotten two DUI’s that have happened with little time in between. I get that there are things wrong with her and it is very saddening. But drinking and driving under any circumstances is okay. Other people could lose their lives, so we can’t always feel sorry for them in that respect. I feel sorry that she is ill but she needs to be watched over so she couldn’t potentionally hurt anyone. It is a scary thought, and a very sad one at that. I hope Amanda can find the help she needs because I sure would not like to see my childhood idol to go away, but neither would I like to hear about another person(s) who had to go because of her. Prayers sent out to her and her family.

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  29. I too have bipolar disorder and try my best to keep that hidden. Everyday is a struggle and to read this, I can’t help but let the tears stream down my face. Thank you. From the bottom on my heart, thank you.

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  30. This was so needed, great post. As a culture we ridicule and judge celebrities who display a possible mental illness, eating disorder, or substance abuse problem. Yes, celebrities chose a life in the lime light, however it is absolutely not our place to judge them on their struggles. We all have our demons, and I agree that many journalists are inflammatory, writing for shock value and attention… Those that write this way with no regard to the people affected by their actions should be ashamed of themselves.

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  31. Agree on this article. Mental illnesses shouldn´t be treated as a joke. The only thing that bothered me was the Kim Kardashians ass comparison. A women who has altered her body surgically in such a way and is changing her FACE in the way she does could also be seen as someone who struggles with self-image, body insecurities and/or narcissistic tendencies. So writing lighthearted articles about just any other persons behavior or appearance would be wrong, right?
    also, I do understand that one cannot necessarily make a person suffering from a mental illness accountable for their actions, but I do believe that it can be hard to deal with.
    I myself have been suffering from depression and also am dealing with a person in my life who I think has an undiagnosed mental illness. And I got to say, even if I try to be understanding toward that person, it is incredibly difficult to not take the things she does or says personally and be angry with her. It can be very frustrating to constantly keep up with “her reality”.
    Didn´t mean to go on a rant just now, but I also think that people dealing with mentally ill people should´t be shamed for not always “doing the right thing”.

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  32. Reblogged this on Let Me Tumble Away and commented:
    So this isn’t the kind of thing I usually put on here but I’ve seen it shared on facebook a few times and it’s important and incredibly well written and I just think probably everybody should read it xx

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  33. I personally have brain damage from a accident When I was out for my nightly run I was in a wheelchair and not able to speak full sentence for years Coming up on the 10 years anaversty in January People still pat my head speak to the person I am with instead of speaking or asking questions about me to me I do have alot of health and mental health issues But I am able to speak for myself You reading this can see grammar and writing skills are lacking But aleast I am trying I’m engorged or pushed a side when talking But if who I am with says something the person is quick to respond I have a BA in teaching I have a family i cant say sorry kids but mommy’s doesn’t want to fight with other about letting you play on the playground My kids who are 6 and under are treated as if they’re disabled from some driver who ran me over on the sidewalk Ihave had to fight for fear treatment for my babies I don’t expect extra special treatment I expect equal treatment
    I am aware this article is not about brain damage and how those with are treated But in away it is my family not a horse and pony show Yes I had to relearn walking, talkind, motor skills, and so much more But I didn’t make you help I didn’t ask for you to get an item out of my reach So why treat me either like a dog you pet or as if I’m not there and bumped into or push out of their way or be told stay home
    What celebrities have to deal with is unfair Yes they signed up for the spotlight But we don’t have the right to have them in it at all times They are aloud a spotlight life along with a personal PERSONAL meaning they can go to the farmers market without having to explain why
    As for mental health lets start with a little thing called (hippa)law medical information is not for us to know unless you are Amanda’s Dr stayout of her private mental health Yes she brings a look at me sign But how about we don’t feed in a let the girl if ill find her way with love ones and I ensure you great medical care If she’s acting like this for again look at me look at me Then the more society plays in the worse it will get Robin Williams never came forward with the behavior of celebrity junkies Do you blame him The only way out he found Made one of the greatest actors leave to soon Who wants to tell his kids Were sorry but he belong to usAnd we would have looked down on his mental health issues

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