Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bell’s “Let’s Talk About Crazy” Day

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For the next 55 minutes, it’s February 9th, Bell’s Let’s Talk day in support of mental illness.  Well, in support of those WITH mental illness.

Why am I cynical…?  Well, for one thing, I think their definition of mental illness is a bit broad, since it encompasses 20% of the entire population:

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For another thing, all the cute talkie spokesmodels don’t look mentally ill.  In fact, there are no crazy people to be seen whatsoever on the website promoting this event.  As in the ads for CAMH, there are a few FORMERLY mentally ill people around to tell their story.  They are all fixed up now and beautiful.  No crazy roaming eyes or unshaven faces or bare feet in the wintertime.

Here’s an example of the stigma-busting attitude promoted by this website:

Do only "bad" people develop mental illness?

No. It is important to remember that people can develop mental illness despite having a wonderful childhood, loving and supportive parents, a good job and a close circle of friends.

Sheesh.  I thought only “bad” people developed mental illness.  That’s about as nitty-gritty as the advice gets, by the way.

I like this one – about reacting when a friend or colleague is mentally ill:  “It [a supportive reaction] can be as simple as sending a get well card to someone who is off work because of a mental illness.”  This is true.  Accepting the legitimacy of mental illness is important. 

I think mostly I’m cynical because, as a conversation with a friend recently highlighted, there are degrees of crazy, and while most of the 20% (if they really exist) experience something mild like depression or anxiety, mostly all I see is the HIGHLY crazed kind of crazy.

What I see is the can’t-be-housed kind of crazy that will burn your trashy rooming house down if you let it.  The toothless, beer-drinking kind of crazy that, like a puddle of puke, everybody kind of backs away from – unless it’s your only brother and then you have to say hi and offer a meal and a warm place to sit for a few minutes.  (Unless it’s bedbug season, in which case, you offer a patch of the lawn and hope it’s not too cold outside.)  The somehow-still-attractive-to-women kind of crazy that every once in a while asks if he should settle down and make a baby with (insert name of girlfriend-of-the-moment here). 

Think he’d drop it if I sent him a “get well” card?

Yup, what I see is the smelly, yelly kind of crazy that you have to kick out of your house or, as I did last weekend, shout “be quiet!  just stop talking or get out!” or it’s going to drive you mad right along with it. 

Do they have a phoneathon for that one yet???

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