by Dish Staff
It seems so elemental — of course your mental state affects your perception of reality, duh! — but unless you’ve lived through it, it’s hard to understand how profound it can be. I walked around the house as if I were wearing a heavy wool blanket soaked in cold water almost all the time. Reason is largely powerless in the face of it. You can’t just snap out of it. You can’t make an argument for why you shouldn’t be depressed, and why things are really not as bad as you think they are. I mean, you can try this, and maybe it will help a bit, but it’s like being tied up and thrown off a pier, and being told by well-meaning people standing on the pier how you can save yourself by swimming to safety.
Some people — like Robin Williams — are not going to be able to save themselves, or be saved, for the same reason that some people who are thrown into the water bound by knots they did not tie will drown. I could be wrong about this, but I trust in the mercy of God in the case of poor souls who suffer so much that they cannot see any other way to relieve their pain.
The death prompted Ty Foster to come out as bipolar:
I can’t speak for anywhere else, and I can’t really speak for any other disabilities, but I know that in my home country [the US], we are still quite a long way from eliminating the stigma that surrounds mental illness. When I’m depressed, it’s hard enough to get myself to the bathroom and back, let alone getting myself to a freaking doctor. Recovery is made all the more difficult by the fact that the world around me, in many insidious ways, causes me to feel even more alone, weird, creepy, scrutinized, awkward, unworthy than I already would. So the hell with that world.
Relatedly, Jason Millman flags research finding that “improvements in understanding mental illness … didn’t help reduce the social stigma”:
People were more likely to say they didn’t want an alcoholic to marry into the family (up from 70 percent to 79 percent) or have someone with schizophrenia as a neighbor (up from 34 percent to 45 percent). Most in 2006 also said they were unwilling to work closely with someone who had schizophrenia (62 percent) or alcohol dependence (74 percent), and most thought people with either illness would likely be violent.
“There was no support that greater scientific understanding translated into reduced prejudice in the United States or elsewhere,” Pescosolido wrote in a more recent March 2013 review of research into the social stigma around mental illness. Reducing the stigma, she points out, will depend on a better understanding of the social and cultural factors shaping it.