Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness

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 thoughts on “Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness

  1. great article. I’m following so when I have time I can read your posts and comment as I do have BPD. It’s a struggle some days, but others are beautiful and filled with lots of regular joy. I do believe the BPD is a gift sometimes as I know my brain doesn’t work like the other 90-something percent and for that I’m grateful.

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    1. I have bpd as well…and honestly it can suck not being able to connect with people in general. It has both helped me succeed but also held me back in many areas.

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      1. Chachalouise — Firstly, it was super brave of you to share your story, and I’m giving you lots of kudos.

        That being said, you’re always welcome to delete the comment if you feel like it’s getting too much attention! I’m glad your blog is getting traffic (woohoo, sharin’ the love!), but I hope that doesn’t make you feel too exposed!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Chachalouise and ecurless – I love someone with untreated BPD. I frequently think that there are many celebrities in the lime light struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder and it isn’t mentioned. It is obviously up to that person to reveal that diagnoses but I feel that as with depression, bipolar, and other common disorders it would start the discussion and help people seek treatment or get the correct diagnoses and therefore correct treatment. This article was heartbreaking but I feel it will really make people look at their actions and behavior.

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  3. Thank you for such a refreshing and compassionate read. People forget to treat each other with respect and dignity. Nice to read that there are still people out there that believe in basic values.

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  4. What a great perspective on celebrities with mental illness. People are so into gawking and cutting down other people. If you have not had a family member go through one of the “major” mental illnesses, you really can’t know the sadness and uncertainty about how to progress through the experience that those of us with a family member with bipolar and/or schizophrenia go through. Leave these people alone – that would be my advice. The family needs privacy. MB

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  5. Thank you for this article Sam. My FB post when I shared your words.

    This article has a great point that mental illness has been made into a form of entertainment. It’s so true. Primetime shows like The Black Box (cancelled, thank you) took mental illness and glamorized it. I truly believe what the majority of the population doesn’t understand and especially when it comes to younger people (late teens and early 20’s) who go into crisis and suffer from psychosis and/or schizophrenia, is that THEY DON’T KNOW OR COMPREHEND that they have it. You can’t just tap them on the shoulder and go “oh, by the way, you have a mental illness, take these meds and take responsibility for your life”. The majority of time that doesn’t come for YEARS and that’s IF the individual survives. Thank you for this article Sam Dylan Finch.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I believe most people seek help for depression before mania, so it could even be years before correct diagnosis and treatment plan are in place. I wasn’t diagnosed till 30ish after my second child, when I actually had post pardum psychosis and was hospitalized. There I said it! For the world to know. (Can you tell I’m a bit ashamed ? For something I could not control?)However, I was not surprised as I was manic most of my teens and 20’s. Depression started as a child for me.

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  6. Reblogged this on Embracing life: 4/29/10 and commented:
    “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.”

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  7. You are all so fucking ignorant.!!…. I can’t believe how many [eople today still think that this is not a serious issued. Like, seriously, if you can’t understand what it feels like to be in this oern’s shows, yoi shouldn’t comment.

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  8. You very eloquently wrote what I’ve been thinking for a while now. It isn’t fair to make a mockery of people like Amanda and Britney Spears because they were unlucky enough to have very public breakdowns. Our country has a long way to go in the way we treat mental illness but every time someone like you speaks out it’s a step in the right direction.

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    1. I hate to say it, but it isn’t just the treatment of people with mental illness that is at issue, but the treatment of any and all marginalized people that needs to change IMHO.
      There is this concept that people that fall on “hard times” of any type are their own victims and they only need to “man up” and overcome their circumstances. If they can’t they’re looked upon with either disgust or a dismissive attitude. The fact is that thanks to Reagan’s misguided policies many of the homeless you encounter are actually suffering from mental illnesses. The poor, homeless, mentally ill, need our sympathy and help instead of being objects of ridicule and disgust.
      It really sad that so many people who haven’t been marginalized due to something beyond their control don’t understand how very lucky they are. And that’s what it really is. Nothing that they did or didn’t do, but just stupid blind luck that prevented them from being a part of the “losers” they deride and ridicule.

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  9. Bravo for your excellent story, it’s amazing to see people standing up for people with mental illness. I have a friend atm who has just developed paranoid schizophrenia.. And it’s absolutely horrible the comments she receives sometines, people have no clue what she is going through and judge her based on comments she is making. And the toll it takes on family I watch her father and it is slowly draining him watching her go through her episodes he loves and supports her fiercely devoting all his time to her but the look on his face says it all. I never truly understood just how bad mental illness is. Seeing it first hand is something else. But as her friend u support her as well and no matter what always do what I can to help her because mebtal illness is a serious condition and is not something to be taken lightly or joked about

    Your kindly

    James Currie

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  10. My estranged husband was diagnosed with bi-polar/schizophrenia back in 2004. Prior to that in 1990 was diagnosed with a “personality disorder”. He has tried to commit suicide on at least five occasions. I sought help for him over and over again. They gave him some pills and sent him back home. The minute he ” felt better” he would stop taking his meds. It’s not easy living with someone with bi-polar/schizophrenia (with delusional and psychotic episodes) believe me. But the one thing I did learn from living with him is that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. He walked away from me and his three children on April 20, 2005 and we ha sent seen him since. I do know that he has been in and out of prison in Florida since he moved there in 2007. His family lives in Florida but he is now estranged from them. In the case of my husband, he lied and schemed constantly. I become afraid of him and his uncontrollable behavior. He spent much of the time blaming everyone else for what he was going through. It WS always someone else’s fault (usually mine). I do not look at mental illness as anything funny because its not. Not for the person with the mental illness or for the family that has to deal with it. It broke my heart seeing him go from a brilliant and kind person to that of someone I no longer recognized. It still breaks my heart.

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  11. I loved and lost a huge father figure to schizophrenia. It’s no joke people. It’s real, it’s horrifying, and it’s debilitating. Everyone suffers not just the person with mental illness, but their supporters as well. This was such a refreshing read. Lets shed light on a dark subject. Stand up and fight back. Be the face to the disease. It is not funny, it is not a joke. This is life or death.

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  12. Thank you so much for this article. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the destigmatization of mental illness and the affect this has on anyone who has even the slightest connection with it.

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  13. Thank you. As someone who works in the mental health field (and has struggled with mental illness), I cannot thank you enough for your article and your efforts to raise awareness and end the stigma. Your bravery in sharing your own struggle is truly inspiring.

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  14. Hey, just wanted to let you know, one cannot be diagnosed with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is the diagnosis given to people with both schizophrenic and bipolar traits.

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  15. The day after robin williams (Who i will respect and admire forever), passed away, they were posting meme’s on the internet with a picture of him and a noose, today’s youth, has no ability whatsoever to empathize with another human being, and it is just getting worse.

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    1. It’s not just the youth. A look through any comments section can demonstrate that today’s adults are just as cruel, and that they hide behind the internet. The youth did not get there on their own.

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  16. Mental Illness is certainly not a joke! In my opinion it effect ts the best of us. Healing and Light sent to her it is a devastating struggle to live with a mental illness.

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  17. My Daughter was bi-polar/Schizophrenic, She has passed (naturally). Because she had a mental disorder, Doctors over looked her health issues… They had decided she had committed suicide when her body was found, so they decided an autopsy was a waste of time… Her toxic screen came back, showing very low levels of her medication. So I have no idea what killed my daughter. The only thing I do know know is when she went to the doctor with a complaint they told her, you are fat and bi-polar go home take your meds and lose weight… So I agree Mental illness is greatly misunderstood, I accept that from the general public, but the medical personal should get up to speed on it…

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  18. This article is eloquent and the wake up call this world needs! I’d share and like a million times if I could. It is very frustrating to have an illness that is not worn, but instead acted out at times not of our choosing. It is devastating the way a lot of people casually diagnose others, as a joke, when they are unaware how real it is. Let us speak out against those who choose to ridicule those with mental illnesses. Great article.

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  19. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I am guilty of making fun of or at least talking crassly about celebrities when they are having meltdowns. I did find them entertaining. You bring forward a compassionate perspective and I certainly will have to start checking myself.

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  20. All I can say is thank you for such a fabulous, compassionate perspective. To mock mental illness and portray their actions as comical is ignorance. We need to keep educating every one on metal illnesses and work to have people to accept and embrace those we know with love and understanding.

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  21. The reason people cried for Robin Williams was because he was an icon. A beloved amazing actor who made us feel. Amanda Bynes is a has been…actually she’s a never was. I think people laugh at the thought that anyone cares what Amanda Bynes is doing.

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    1. I think you are missing the point. Doesn’t reallyatter if she is a has been (however you judge that) the point of this article is that her behaviour indicates she possibly is struggling with mental illness yet there are commentators and members of the public who revel in mocking her. I hope mental illness never touches their lives.

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  22. This is really awesome. Thanks for bringing this up. I really hadn’t thought about it this way, and you are so right. A lot of the things I heard people say about Robin Williams really pissed me off, but I feel like I was kind of ignorant until I read this just now. So beautifully written.

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  23. A million times thank you. I read this and immediately shed a tear. I have suffered from panic disorder for most of my life. I have been made fun of, talked about, not listened to and the list goes on and on. I could not imagine being a celebrity struggling with a mental illness. It breaks my heart to see the lack of compassion in the media. This was such a heartfelt article that really “called out” many of the issues facing mental illness. To know that one person (you) stood up and said, ‘enough is enough!’ is soooo encouraging. Tonight, I tip my hat to you, sir.

    Squeeze – Liz

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I was completely on board with your entire commentary. I have just one question… Why would you end such a wonderfully written article by damning the Lord? That was not necessary! My opinion on both matters Robin and Amanda, I believe Amanda is crying out for help and she doesn’t want to die but she needs help and I do not believe it is funny or a joke and I can’t stand that is being portrayed that way. Robin on the other hand I truly believe that he did know what he was doing and perhaps his purpose was to spark such debates as this and get the ball rolling in this country to make people MORE AWARE that mental illness exists and it’s killing a lot of people and not just the ones that are ill because the ill people are taking out innocent people as well. I’m hopeful that there is some solution soon and I know that there is “free help” out there for whomever chooses to seek it (it’s not easy to find but it’s there). The biggest problem is that mentally ill people sometimes do not realize that they actually need help and there are very few places for people to quietly go into and just seek advice without the worry of the “stigma” that will be placed upon them (celebrity or not). Something has to change and I’m hopeful I can somehow be a part of a positive change. Suggestions are welcome! Peace y’all

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  25. Do you remember what Amanda Bynes first became famous for? It was the “Ask Ashley” segment on the Nickelodeon kid’s show “All That.” The crux of that piece was she would swing between sweet and livid polarities, and the audience ate it up. Life imitates art. If we’re wondering why the public is watching her struggle with bipolar/ schizophrenia with such glee and enthusiasm, this might be part of the reason to blame. I wish her the best in regards to breaking free of public demand and evolving to her next, more empowered state of being.

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  26. Thank you. I have BPD2, and it is a constant struggle, even with meds, to find the happy. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a great support system. No, my children do not always understand it, but they try, and that’s what counts. Mocking anyone for a psychiatric stay is horrible and wrong, as you’ve pointed out. They are trying to live, to find the happy, and to figure out how to survive when their brain doesn’t function like everyone elses.

    Thank you for this article. Thank you for your boldness and your honesty.

    I try to talk openly about what I’m going through so that I can educate those around me. There really is a stigma. Or a “Just think happy thoughts” and that just doesn’t work when one is down in the low end of the BPD cycle. As I’m type 2, I live down there a lot. It’s hard to not be ok when people think you should be able to do things normal peoplel do without thinking about it. I have to think about it and make a huge effort. So hopefully your article will help spread the word. Help people to understand.

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  27. Excellent article, beautifully written, class and strength. I avoid gossip press due to exactly these themes, I don’t know who the girl is, I can guess what has been written. I hope she and others see this article and understand the support, empathy, rejection for the way personal matters are exploited and individuals abused and most importantly, respect and thoughtfulness for whatever a person is going through. These are the strongest people, the attackers are weak. So good to read a personal account within a very eloquent, insightful (not due to personal experience, simply human morality and empathy), strong and very caring article. I hope this reaches out to those struggling with these terrible challenges and it is understood that it is not just a community of those with personal illness who agree with the writer and agree wholeheartedly. I do not suffer from any of the conditions mentioned, although isn’t it ridiculous that we have to “identify” one way or the other as we are all human and all susceptible, I do however completely agree, have had the same response to treatment of those struggling and stand by the writer, anyone who is struggling and being mocked or ignored, not given the respect and dignity they deserve and this piece. In the end, we are all the same. Some of us have simply learned humility and gratitude, others are not worthy of mention. My love, solidarity and thoughts to all xxxxxx

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  28. I appreciate your article. I have several friends with mental illness. It is difficult to understand sometimes. I am wondering if you have some suggestions on how to approach and handle situations. How do you confront or communicate with someone who has had bad behavior related to their illness that affects you over and over again. How do you set healthy boundaries when they are not necessarily in their logical mind but think they are. How do you handle their arrogance that can happen when they think they know better than the doctors etc. when manic. These are difficult things that have broken down my friendship with one, and is threatening another. It breaks my heart. I want to have compassion and understanding.When trying to communicate how I feel, they turn it around to be about them. You can see my dilemma. Have you dealt with these issues? How do you handle them? Thank you.

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    1. To answer the person who asks “how do I handle a person with a mental illness”. First if all you don’t “handle” people. You love them first, with love and compassion you try to imagine yourself in their shoes then you find resources such as NAMI to learn more about mental illness. There are also support groups. Its difficult to be the other person – my mother is severely mentally I’ll. I had to forgive a lot and learn to understand much about her illness in order to know how to help her. Good luck good person and be patient.

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  29. Great article. A lot of the time people try telling me that mental illness is an excuse and that the people are lazy and lying even sometimes, I can’t stand the ignorance. if those people knew the feelings that go through you when you’re feeling anxiety, depression, just the feeling of wanting to get away. I listen to a lot of these people go on negative rants about people with issues, and I’m bi polar. They don’t understand and don’t want to and it’s sick. You can be diagnosed Bi Polar and Schizophrenic, you can be diagnosed with a lot of different disorders/illness but in the end it’s all a professional opinion. Co-morbidity does exist as a term even though I don’t think it really exists. I can’t believe people’s ignorance on these things, people will go after you for anything. The people that down others for being mentally ill, autistic, and anything else are a lot more sick than the people that have those disorders.

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  30. Honestly, comparing Amanda Bynes’ erratic behavior/social media presence, etc. to a respectable actor like Robin Williams who happened to have had a mental condition that impacted his wish to continue living an unhappy life seems insulting (in my opinion). While it is unfortunate that she is suffering as he did, mind you completely out of the spotlight, her constant self-diagnoses, accusations made about her parents, ill wishes about other celebrities, the media, and people in general –“ugly” people because they happen to be against her ‘religion’–are what have led her to this ridicule. Not to say she deserves it because nobody does, but while you make great points, it is important to note that Robin Williams did not spend his final days tweeting about how much he hates his family, ugly people, *thrown in Hitler/German rant* or even mention his suffering. Therefore, is weeping over his death while ridiculing her condition truly that detestable?

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    1. Yes, because erratic behavior—assuming an underlying mental illness—is a sign that the person is completely overrun with symptoms and have no sense of agency in their life. If people were only worthy of compassion when they’re dealing with it silently, then they’ll never get it because they hide it, and the ones who are out of control and need it desperately won’t get it because they don’t fit some poster-child model of mental illness. So we leave them to the dogs until they get through it, manage it on their own, and basically shut down or become pillars of apparent sanity?

      The whole reason we recognize how horrible mental illness is—the whole reason the psychiatric and psychological professions exist—is because so many people with mental illness acted in a way you think is ridiculous and worthy of mockery.

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  31. Loved and appreciated your article. As a school psychologist, I watch children and teens suffer through mental illness all of the time. It’s such a stigmatizing disorder (which it shouldn’t be) that parents are very often reluctant to get their kids help and, as a result, their mental illness continues to go untreated and typically worsen. It is detestable to ridicule Bynes behavior – who are we to judge and decide how her mental illness manifests itself? Just because she isn’t keeping it private and is acting erratically doesn’t mean her suffering is any less. She is crying out for help in her own way and rather than receiving concerned and compassionate responses from the general public, she’s being laughed and judged. So very sad. Truly – thank you for using your voice to bring attention to an incredibly serious issue. Hopefully with more people speaking up, society will stop stigmatizing the disorder and more people will get the help that they need.

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  32. I being a person with bipolar 1 rapid cycler have found it difficult. People shun me judge me. It affects my family in a bad way. Theyre tired of holding me up. Men are turned off when they find out. Im an outcast. People have no clue how many times ive tried to commit duicide. Iys hard just being me but being in the lime light hss to be even harder. I cant imagine how hatd it is for them to survive the judgements we all get. I dont get phone call from my.family because they dont know what to expect. My father says get your meds straightened out. Its hard to find the right combo it takes awhile and there are bad side affects to the meds. The drs sre trying to find better meds but its takinng a long time. I loved Robin Williams. I guessed he had bpd long before it came out. He was an outstanding person and i feel for his family. The judgements need to stop being called crazy hurts. Lets start educating others and stop the stigma. Its a chemical imbalance. Do we make fun of people who have diabetes? NO. Remember I suffer from the disease IM NOT THE DISEASE.

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  33. You are so right, people do die of psychiatric illnesses everyday. No other illnesses are as stigmatized either . Effect your relationships , your support systems either. It is usually very lonely, isolating , and alienating . A least people who have physical differences still have their heads on straight. All no less lonely in a materialistic world.

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  34. Thank you for this article. At this very moment I am going through a very similar situation with my sister. She has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bpd, and mood disorder with delusions. At times she can be very high functioning, to the point that healthcare officials believe she is “fine”. Not only does society need some compassion, but laws need to change. Thank god we have a large family, because it takes all hands on deck in order to help her. It is emotionally draining to try and get her well. We are fighting an uphill battle on a daily basis. HIPPA laws and a paranoid schizophrenic do not mix well. In her reality, her entire family is against her. It saddens me to hear about Amanda Bynes, I can empathize with her and her family. I pray, that one day, mental illness will lose the stigma attached to it and society will be more accepting, thus making strides to help those of us living in this nightmare.

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  35. Having realized later in life that I have schizoaffective disorder, and hiding from it since I was a small child, and getting to my mid 30’s after getting help in my mid 20’s I can sympathize/empathize with most of the readers and sufferers of these illnesses… It’s an immensely challenging, debilitating (at times), and life-altering roller-coaster to be stuck on. It is intensely alienating oftentimes, leaving you feeling like an alien lookin in on the fishbowl wishing with all your heart you could be a “normie” too, but you know you have this illness that you struggle with, and it is constant, in varying degrees… You just look forward to the good days, the good moments, and try to reflect on the good times as much as possible, and hope for silver linings and good vibes, because people can be mean, and life can be harsh, and you have to do your very best to fit in despite the stigma, and the slings and arrows. The dirty looks and the unkind words. Allthewhile trying not to own them and remember to just be yourself. It can be truly exhausting.

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