Let's Talk Invisible Illness and Mental Health

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Sir Salty, May 1, 2016.

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  1. I really wanted to get into this topic about invisible illness and mental health is something I am generally interested in. It's hard to wrap my brain around some of the stigma that comes from any invisible disorder. For some disclosure I have Autism. And I don't have the fun Rain Man Autism.

    I don't have the type of Autism, that Autism Speaks and other media coverage likes to milk for sad sympathy points. I have the type of Autism most people don't cover or talk about. Because it's not sexy to talk about it. I appear functioning and intelligent.

    I can speak and cook for myself. And I am not borderline mentally retarded. But I was diagnosed late, not even a year. I was recently diagnosed back in November of 2015. And it makes a bunch of sense. All the behavior I displayed as a kid. I displayed as an adult. I finally had a name to the reason why I was the way I was.

    And that was a sense of relief. But because of all this negative stigma and all of this media coverage. People make this assumption, that my Autism cannot be bad because I am smart. Or they assume I got help when I was a kid. I grew up in the late 80s, early 90s. When Autism was not very prevalent. So every behavior I displayed as a kid that today would scream super Autistic kid. Screamed bad kid with lots of behavioral problems.

    I did not get the help to recognize my triggers. I did not get socially integrated very well. I was ostracized. I was socially isolated. And I have no training. Because no one trained me. I am working on it. I go to therapy. I am part of an Autism social group. But people have this weird assumption that I can just get over it. It doesn't matter. And that I am just allowing myself to behave this way.

    Sometimes I can catch my behavior and take a seat back. Sometimes I react, rather than think about something. And I don't know all of my triggers for meltdowns or triggers for when I am going to behave in a certain way. I know some of them. And I know I am talking a lot about Autism, but it's what I have and it explains so much of my behavior.

    But I know there are other people out there. With real depression, we're not talking I can talk myself out of this rut depression. But depression. And other invisible disorders, physical or mental. Who are told to shut up and deal with it.

    That there's this stigma that anyone can just fake an invisible disorder. But if people were seriously educated on certain disorders. Those symptoms are very hard to fake. And these disorders really do disrupt our daily lives. And it's even more disruptive when people just think you magically can change overnight.

    I have always asked people, if you saw a man with a cane and a limp, would you tell he wasn't trying hard enough to run?

    I am working on getting SSI which is a horribly slow system. That technically is even worse for those with invisible disorders. Because it's system that treats people like they are liars. It's a system created by those who do not know what these disorders really are and believe in this hype that people who go through the SSI system are lying people who want to cheat and be lazy and not earn their money or don't want to work. No one wants to be degraded. No one wants to be belittled and this system in the end of the day is exhausting. And it's harmful for the mental health of anyone with a disability.

    No one realizes how much of a struggle it really is try and make my own path. Where opportunities like SSI and Foodstamps and even assistant programs for housing become also obstacles. Where I have to struggle through bureaucratic bullshit to ask for a decent life.

    So I suppose I ranted long enough. What are your takes on invisible disorders, like autism or chronic pain syndrome or even depression, etc? How do you think we change the views of other people? Do you want the views of invisible disorders to change? Why or why not?
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  2. I have autism myself, and i'm on the high case of the spectrum. I have assbergers (okay it isn't called that anymore but the new title is so long that I think people just used to have people stumble over the words). I don't think the disorders are invisible, I just think people don't like to talk about it like, migraines or even vertigo, because they believe that it's a demon.

    We scare them in a context.
  3. I also have Aspergers, but they no longer diagnose people with Aspergers. You're now just under one umbrella term, Autism. And I disagree with that, people talk about Autism, but only in the case of the sexiest cases of Autism. <---I'm making a joke, I don't necessarily mean Autism is sexy. But what I mean is that people talk about Autism if only it is the worse case scenario of Autism. You know the non verbal, borderline mentally deficient.

    What do you mean by scare them?
  4. how to explain that. I'm not sure how to explain how autism scares them, they think we are antisocial retarted idiots who can't do anything, my grandparents use it as an excuse in order to get me what I want (school wise) and they think that we need to be watched and never become independent.
  5. My family is kind of the opposite. They belittle and treat me like a child, but then ironically expect me to behave like an adult and make adult decisions. O.o
  6. ironic how that works with some families. my grandpa is an overprotective pain in the ass who wants everyone to baby me and treat me like a child. while my grandmother is strong willed woman who believes my "disability" is nothing more then an excuse to get me out of things such as a job or friends.
  7. One thing I can't stress enough is the incompetence of healthcare in general as concerned with disorders and mental illness. You're basically shoved into a box labelled after whatever disorder you have, handed an extremely generalized therapeutic formula, told empty promises and straight-up lies, and put on month-long waiting lists for minute-long procedures and wasted money. So, what I want to say is, don't rely on healthcare to solve or even assuage your situation, rely on it for expanding your knowledge on the subject — IF you can afford it — then craft your own tools. And, in certain cases, you get legal drugs.

    Also, 1/5 therapists are good — usually the independent ones.
    #7 Icy, May 1, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2016
  8. Well I mean I am on medicaid so that helps. It's really nice to just walk around wave around my card and be like, fuck yeah bitches now what, lol
  9. My Autism was diagnosed fairly early (thank Buddha), but even then the preconceptions around it are aggravating.
    I've seen the most mild cases of Asperger's imaginable and other cases when there's nothing but a babbling vegetable. It is both fascinating and terrifying to think that, if even the tiniest thing about me were to change (genetic or circumstantial or whatnot) that my place in society would be drastically changed without my input. At times I feel blessed that my school has such supportive/understanding people. My parents are also encouraging figures.

    But travel back in time, let's say about 5 years, and everything was a nightmare.
  10. I was about to comment about this, but I then discovered I am not of the popular opinion (That, and I have no mental Illness whatsoever). So, to make it short and sweet, I am of the opinion there is no 'Invisible' Mental Illness. Just Mental Illnesses.
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  11. Well, I guess I'll weigh in.

    As I've mentioned many times around here before, I have ADHD, and, I feel like a lot of people don't realize what a problem that can actually be. It's so often stereotyped as just meaning hyperactivity and being quirky, and while I know that some people with ADHD do experience that kind of hyperactivity as a symptom, for many it is sort of the opposite. I for one feel slow and lethargic -- zombie-like, really -- when my symptoms are at their worst. :/ It's hard to articulate how difficult it can actually be for me to focus sometimes, and how "sit down and do it" just isn't always a realistic option. Oh, and it doesn't help that it's usually assumed to be something that people grow out of -- when that isn't always the case. People think of it as kids being hyperactive and not being able to do their homework, but then getting better when they get older, but, lots of people still have symptoms as adults, and ADHD can make it really difficult to function in certain areas of adult life sometimes. >.< In fact, I wasn't even diagnosed as a kid -- I was diagnosed when I was 16, because of all the trouble I was having with doing homework in high school (which is a significantly different from the half sheet of math problems that I would've gotten once or twice a week in 2nd grade). A college setting is even more difficult -- and I don't think I'd be able to survive here if not for my medication. o_o

    Speaking of which -- I'm not a kid who's clearly struggling or anything. In fact, I have a 3.81 GPA, and I'm usually the teacher's pet in almost every class. o_o But... I'm only doing so well thanks to a combination of my meds and a whole bunch of coping strategies that I've picked up over the years. Still, though, I feel like I have a limited amount of time to do work in compared to other students -- I crash when my meds wear off, and doing any more homework that night is pretty much out of the question. And I feel like it's so hard to explain how exactly my disorder is a problem when people look at my high grades -- but it's like... I'm smart enough that I can get good grades when I do the work, the problem is finding time to do it without me zoning out, which, thankfully, I often succeed at, but not without a fair amount of stress and struggle (and sometimes asking professors for extensions on deadlines).

    Oh, and then there's the fact that I'm a college student who has a prescription for adderall... do you know how weird that feels?? Adderall is so commonly abused on college campuses just in the context of students essentially seeing it as a way of "cheating" to get way ahead on their homework. And so I feel like I'm constantly either overhearing conversations about students talking about taking it or PSA's explaining why you shouldn't take it (almost always framing it as "cheating"), and I just feel so weird because... I sort of need it to get my homework done?? But... that's the same thing all these "cheating" and "lazy" students say, so... are they the lazy ones, or is it me? It's a minor annoyance, but it just makes me feel... awkward. Worse yet, I often have to carry my medication with me and take it between classes, as I don't always have the luxury of getting back to my dorm at convenient points in the day when I would be taking another dose. And not only do I often worry about it being stolen, but I'm also worried that people will see me taking it and assume I'm just abusing adderall like many college students are known to do, instead of being prescribed to take it. And then it's like... I try to be inconspicuous about it and sort of hide the bottle and all that, but... doesn't that just make it look more suspicious?? I know it's just me being awkward and paranoid, but it kind of sucks that I have good reason to believe that people might assume I'm doing something illegal in order to cheat my way to an A as opposed to struggling with a mental illness and using my medication as a much-needed crutch to help deal with it. :/ It's not like I've ever gotten in trouble (as I imagine it would be difficult to be punished when my name is on the bottle), but, even when it's clear that I do have a prescription... I still feel weird about it. :/ This is also the reason why, whenever my medication comes up in conversation for whatever reason, I just call them "my meds" as opposed to actually using the term "adderall", because "my meds" implies something that I have a prescription for and that is intended to treat some sort of condition that I have, whereas "adderall", in the mind of some random eavesdropper, would imply something rather different out-of-context...

    Aaaaand then there's the fact that a lot of people don't think ADHD exists at all and that it's just an excuse for people to not do their homework... which does not at all help the whole "adderall = cheating" thing...

    ALL IN ALL, THOUGH... I may have my complaints, but I have to admit that a lot of these things are minor annoyances. I still have parents and close friends who believe me when I say that seemingly-simple things are hard, I actually have access to medication that I am extremely grateful for, and I've even had college professors believe me and offer a few tiny accommodations after I explained myself! So... in general, things could be a lot worse for me, but they aren't, and I'm very thankful for that. o.o My heart goes out to anyone who is in a much worse situation because of an invisible illness, of course... >~<
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  12. Hmm. I'm curious as to what you mean by this. After all, what people mean by "invisible" is that it's difficult for others to see. A person may seem well-put-together in the eyes of others even though they're actually struggling with a mental illness, and it's hard for them to explain to others how much of a struggle it actually is. The way I understand it, an "invisible" mental illness is one that isn't clearly obvious to other people.

    Could you further explain what you mean, then? o.o Because I'm not sure what you're trying to say...
    #12 Kagayours, May 1, 2016
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
  13. But it is invisible. When no one recognizes it and ignores it. Like it doesn't affect someone's life. And then tells them to just get over it.
  14. About how my brain reacted upon seeing this thread.

    Anywho, let me light the @Gwazi Magnum signal, he's dealt with this shit for years and as far as I recall, his field of study involves children & that would include mental stresses like disorders. (I might be wrong though. Feel free to correct me if I am.)

    I'll reply to these things one at a time. Yes, as someone who possesses a disorder, and has had a great interest in this particular field for a long, long time. No, I don't let it define my identity.
    #1: Some people do. Granted, they're assholes/insanely optimistic, but they do anyway.

    #2: Something to understand about homo sapiens is that we're a species which evolved a series of sensory organs, and then evolved our capacity to understand things around said organs. We are primarily visual creatures first, so when you see a man with a cane who is limping, you can visually identify and analyze that. When someone has a mental disorder, it's far harder to see it and thus the average person's brain registers nothing wrong. Plus, when you hand a person something which, for them, is purely a concept (because they cannot perceptibly see something wrong like they can with physical handicaps), they're more likely to be skeptical of it. Especially if it goes contrary to other concepts they already assume to be true. It's like telling an ardent Christian that hell isn't real: You can scream it at them all day, but to them, it's very real, and you're the madman for proposing it isn't. (Using it as an example for any Christians reading. You can assume the opposite is true for me: I would not accept the existence of hell, no matter how much you yelled it at me, unless my sensory organs could perceptibly prove myself wrong.)

    Not saying that either of these reasons makes it right, but that it simply is what it is. To solve a problem, one must first understand the problem.
    Express what you need. Pain and frustration sometimes simply needs a voice to ease your state of mind.
    The systems necessary to treat them are underfunded and often inaccessible to those who need them most. The scientific resources put behind its study are not as of yet able to define concrete answers for several problems relating to the treatment of disorders, especially the more severe ones. Privatized pharmaceutical companies have a much greater financial incentive to drag people into a perpetual payee scheme for temporary relief rather than discovering cures. The people who suffer with these disorders need to be braver and stand together. The people who treat their disorders need to be braver and stand together. There needs to be an educational course (preferably in junior high but failing that, high school) to inform teenagers about mental disorders as a whole. If sex ed is necessary, so is a course that could potentially save thousands of people suffering they don't understand could be treated. People need to be taught that it is possible in most cases with proper treatment to put people into functioning states that can work alongside everyone else as per the norm so long as the appropriate support structures exist. Same as how you can employ wheelchair people in call centres, so long as they have ramps and elevators.

    The news media needs to collectively fuck off and die in a hole. The way they report mental disorders is even worse than how they report crime in general. The obsession with linking mental disorders to things like violent games or pornography is beyond disgusting. The obsession with trying to tie every mass shooter to a mental disorder and then focusing on that is also disgusting. The calls to support mental health care ring hollow and empty, nobody follows through with it, including John Oliver and Jon Stewart and other nightly comedians. People who claim to stand with us, ditch us within a week or two for the next big controversy. Even groups like the LGBT community do what they can to push us away, it's a fucking joke. Every single person in the news media who has tried to link violent crimes with mental disorders should be terminated from their jobs for hate crimes, because it's inspired millions of people to look at everyone with certain mental disorders (like my own) as mass murderers just waiting to happen. You know what causes mentally unstable people to snap and stop functioning? Stress. You know what the #1 fucking cause of stress is? Social interactions. You know how to make that a lot worse? Alienating them all as freaks or mass murderers.

    Even if the majority of mass murderers have mental disorders, the majority of those with mental disorders do not commit mass murder. So fuck off with this hyperbole, cunts.
    By talking to them like anybody else and not introducing ourselves as "those guys with mental disorders." Just be everything else, and one day, mention you have a disorder. That'll do wonders. Because instead of them meeting "the depressed guy" they meet "John, who is a guy that likes playing video games and plays Poker with me on Saturday nights, who happens to have depression." Humanize it, don't put ourselves on pedestals, fight the news media in general about it until they're forced to change. That's the only way we're going to get people to change their minds anytime soon. Otherwise, it will take multiple generations (probably several) of the slow running education via scientific studies to get people to change... And science is slow. Very slow. Especially when there's no financial incentive in a "cure" and all the incentive in the world to keep producing the perpetual money machine that is pills.
    Yes. Because the day I can sign up for a job and not panic about my medical history is the day I can breath easy and have less stress in my life.
    Une façon de penser gentille mais naive.
    Eh'... Yes and no. Depends on the area you live in and your financial status. Also, luck. Keep in mind that recommending people away from therapy is doing the complete opposite of helping. It tells people who may receive help that they should just give up trying immediately, and it slows the system from learning about its errors. Ironically: The more people the system fails, the greater the pressure there will be from the outside for the system to correct itself. People are more likely to pay attention to bigger failure numbers rather than smaller ones, and the more cases go unnoticed, the more apathetic the general public will be. Look at the LGBT movement: The bigger it got, the more problems it faced, the greater the sympathy became for it, the greater the progress it gained.

    Private therapists are generally fine. High school therapists are laughable, most are underqualified and overwhelmed by sheer numbers of patients. They might be able to diagnose if something is wrong with you, but don't trust their specific diagnosis, use it as a guideline to go hop off to a private therapist. If you can't afford one, then you're stuck in a shitty situation, and you need to fight hard to get one. If you can afford one, but you get a shitty one, keep in mind you can always change to a new therapist instead. Just like doctors--always get a second opinion if you can, unless you're working with a trusted family doctor. Always get a second opinion from another therapist if the first one ain't working for you.

    So, I mean, it's nice of you to point out that the system is flawed as fuck (because it absolutely is), but don't discourage people from using it. We need to use it and abuse it until it breaks under pressure and its failure rate becomes so exceptionally terrible that the general public will be absolutely mortified by its eventual discovery. That is how we will win.
    #14 Brovo, May 1, 2016
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  15. I actually agree with everything you say and I know I was simplifying myself. Because I mean look at that introductory post. So I understand a lot of the points you were making do in fact put into factors. And hahaha, yeah the media does need to die in a hole.
  16. Given, the majority of people ignore it.

    But here's the thing; scientists of all kinds (in the medical field, in the psychological field, ect.) have found these problems because they had to have known the IS a problem. Along with this, we made it easier to recognize. We have medication that are made for ALL kinds for these problems, rather it be minor or major. So it is recognized.

    Now, when it comes to the majority of people in this society, most know other people have 'problems' (Rather it be physical, mental, psychological, etc.). Yet, they don't give a damn. Why? Because if it doesn't show and doesn't affect your life as a productive member of society, or someone in your immediate surroundings, people will not give a fuck. Why again? Because everyone has their own problems. We all have shit we have to deal with.

    I can tell you that most of the time that people say 'deal with it', its because whatever you say you have,, there's worse out there, probably more debilitating. People know it's out there.

    NOW This is how I view it. I am not saying I am right, as I am not saying you are wrong, but from my point of view, people KNOW it exists, but they don't care because it's not enough to disturb your life enough to be considered 'serious'.

    I say like all the other bastards do; deal with it. And I don't say 'Let it take control of your life and make things harder.'

    I'm saying 'Deal with it so it with the way you can, because in the end, you have to take the steps to denounce/recover/overcome this, and not people's duty to acknowledge and deal with it.'
  17. I find this view to be extremely dismissive. It does not help the individual, when you say deal with it and that it doesn't matter because someone else has it worse out there than you. So what? An individuals life matters To Them more than that stranger. Do I feel sorry for that individual? I do. Because I can easily put myself in their situation and if I had the resources to assist them I would.

    But it's extremely dismissive to tell someone to deal with it when;

    -I been homeless for the last 3 years, I couch surf and I hang on the kindness of coworkers
    -I have had no job for the last 3 years and I cannot keep my jobs for very long due to be overwhelmed, overworker, overstimulated, and prone to meltdown
    and because of it I have no money

    I somehow have to make 6 cups of soup last me the week before I get groceries on the 9th of May. In hopes to ration my cup of soups I been eating 1 cup of soup, by the way which is not nutritionally valuable, a day.

    1 cup of soup with no nutrition for a day.

    How does just deal with it help me? Instead of donating money to someone? Instead of working on programs that could assist people with these problems? We dismiss it because someone else has it worse?

    What the fuck kind of logic is that bullshit anyway?
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  18. My view IS probably dismissive. Again, I am not saying I am right, nor am I saying that you are wrong.

    Thing is; life isn't fair. You know how you fight an unfair life? You deal with it, go beyond it. If you are is such a situation that sucks, you have to pull yourself out of it.

    Yes I sound like a mean-spirited asshole, but it's the reality of things.
  19. I think the problem with this kind of stance, though, is that mentally ill people can't always pull themselves out of it. Willpower alone is not going to help the person with depression who can't find the energy to take a shower in the morning, or the person with severe anxiety who can't work up the courage to pick up the phone.

    It's one thing to say "I don't care" about another person's problems, because, yeah, not everyone can expect pity points from everyone else, but it's another thing to say "you have to pull yourself out of it" because that's the tricky thing about mental illness, especially an "invisible" mental illness. You wouldn't look at a man in a wheelchair and think that he's "lazy" for not taking the stairs, because you can understand that he just can't take the stairs. But mental illness is different because it isn't visible. It's so easy to look at people with mental illnesses and tell them they need to help themselves, but often it just isn't that easy. The things that seem easy to you, are the things that are virtually impossible to someone with a mental illness, and it isn't in their power to change.

    I understand what you're trying to say, but... overcoming mental illness is not the sort of thing that can be fixed with willpower or telling people to pull themselves out of their own problems. And I think that's precisely the problem with an "invisible" illness -- people not acknowledging the problem... because they don't see it as a problem. :/
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  20. I have anxiety disorders which creates a rather... sticky cocktail.

    I have PTSD (nothing like they show on TV with soldiers... closest thing, I think, would be what was showed in Jessica Jones). I don't know all my triggers, I just know that when it happens, I lose contact with reality and it's extremely difficult to understand and believe the person talking to me is someone else.

    Until about 3 years ago, I had no idea I had legit anxiety. Panic attacks, OCD habits, the uncontrollable need to scratch myself (which has caused my skin to become incredibly sensitive), and a general obsessive personality.

    Is this the time to bare open? Surewhynot.

    When I was a kid, life at home was like walking on eggs constantly - one thing wrong, and it would trigger extreme psychological and emotional violence. Love and care had to be earned, not given. When you live on edge for 15 years, it.. changes you. I became obsessive about everything and paranoid. I knew every single detail about my environment, so if something happened I would be able to place everything back as it was. That included stealing food from our own cupboards lol.

    As an adult, I realize that I can be extremely dependent emotionally, and I feel 10x more than one should normally feel. Rejection for me is the worst thing, it triggers my paranoia, which tells me brain "Nobody wants you again, you never do anything right, you're unwantedunwantedunwantedunwantedjustdisappearnoonewouldcareanywaybecauseyoureunwantedunwanted". I suppose this is all part of having anxiety and some form of paranoia.

    I have light social anxiety, but most of it is me being paranoid - when I'm alone in an unknown/new setting, I feel like everyone is looking at me and judging me, and god forbid that person who just laughed is definitely laughing at me and pointing me to their friends. BUT being a rather closed person, I ended up alone a lot of the time and enjoyed to torture myself, so I think now I still feel like that, but I cut myself away from it.

    I revel in my OCD habits, they make me feel safe. I try to eliminate the bad ones (lol) like trichotillomania by adopting different habits (in this case, keeping my hair short and out of my eyesight). Things on my desks have to be placed and replaced repeatedly so I can relax, all at the right angle, because if the pen is turned at a 75 degree angle on my right, it's a lot easier to pick up than if it was at a flat 180 degrees. I bite my nails so that there is no dirt under them - the longest time I can spend without biting them is about 3 weeks, during which I must have nailpolish and so I do not want to mess it up. I thought I only had OCD tendencies but a few times, I could not function or focus or move on if something I was obsessing over was not "complete". Hence I hate surprises, I hate cliffhangers, and I love spoilers. I need closure in all things, and if I know something does not offer it (like the Firefly series with only one season and then cancelled.....) I will try my best to avoid it.

    Being obsessive also means that it's extremely easy for me to become addictive. I'm addicted to nicotine, sex, comic books (I own more than I could possibly read between the periods in which I buy them), and I know that if I could afford it, I could easily become a drug addict. Thankfully I've only done hard drugs when I was a teenager 8-9 years ago, before all of this developed.

    To conclude, most people do not realize I'm like this until they've known me for a while. They'll think it's me being quirky or just a little weird, just a little emotionally unbalanced, just a little emotionally dependent. I'm used to it by now, that most people think I'm purposely doing something when actually it kills me to do it, but if I don't, something worse might happen and I could lose it. From my experience, anxiety disorders are some of the worse - it's all about "learn to channel your stress" "Learn to deal with your stress"... but if your stress is so high that it closes up your throat and makes you scratch yourself until you bleed...

    That's all I've got to say. :unicorn:
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