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Silencing the Mentally Ill is Not Acceptable

I’m not a person who takes on a cause de jour – I simply have too much self-preservation for that. I have enough going on without worrying about the plights of the world.

However, when someone tries to spread mistruths and tries to silence my voice, then I start to get peeved.

Case in point. Recently, the West Virginia University’s school paper, The Daily Athenaeum, printed an article about lifestyle factors and depression. And while I have no problem with that subject, the things they said therein were wrong and inexcusable.

And when they tried to silence my criticism of that article, I got peeved. I will not allow the voice of mental illness to be ignored simply because someone doesn’t like what we have to say.

Lifestyle Factors and Depression

I’m the first one to admit that lifestyle factors influence mental illness including depression. I’ve written about it many times and will continue to encourage people to help facilitate positive change in their lives in ways that complement their traditional healthcare.

However, this does not mean that lifestyle factors formally “treat” depression. This does not mean, as The Daily Athenaeum states, that depression can be fixed by a “walk in the park.”

Antidepressant Abuse

Moreover, I will not stand for the notion that people with depression abuse their antidepressants and “add to the growing prescription drug abuse problem in the U.S.”

This is simply not the case. Taking a medically prescribed medication, as directed by a doctor, for a recognized illness, is not abuse, it’s treatment. Not to tote out the tired cliché, but it is no different than diabetics and insulin or epileptics and antiseizure (anticonvulsant) medication. These groups take prescribed medication for recognized conditions and do not “abuse” it simply by taking it.

42-15654561Silencing the Voice of the Mentally Ill

Upon reading of my concerns, and the concerns of many of my readers, The Daily Athenaeum did what I consider to be completely unreasonable – they deleted all the comments and disallowed further commenting on the article.

They tried to shut me up and they tried to shut up the other mentally ill people who also had critical things to say.

This is not acceptable.

I will not allow reasoned and reasonable critiques to be vanished into thin air simply because the other party doesn’t like what I (or others) have to say. We, the mental illness community, are stronger than that. We need to stand up for our rights and hold journalists, yes, even ones in university, accountable for their words and their actions.

And that is what I’m doing now. I’m writing articles and sending letters to everyone tied to the paper until someone addresses the issue.

Please Help Me

I would love additional voices on this. If you would like to help, please read my coverage on my personal blog, the Bipolar Burble (not endorsed by, or affiliated with, HealthyPlace).

We are strong. And we are stronger together.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

10 thoughts on “Silencing the Mentally Ill is Not Acceptable”

  1. Hey Natasha!

    That’s wonderful they’ve reinstated! I truly do believe that being an advocate and taking the time to let your voice be heard does make a difference. I hope they do reply to you Natasha, your comment was well stated.

  2. Hi Barb,

    They reinstated the comments! They weren’t there yesterday. We are making a difference. It’s a small change but I will take what I can get. Thank-you for pointing that out to me.

    I still hope to have them address the article properly.

    – Natasha

  3. Hi Natasha,

    Great post and I also read your blog post which gave the link to the original article from the paper. I read it through, was disheartened to see such a cavalier attitude toward mental illness and such ridiculous statements that a simple walk in the park can fix it. Also didn’t like her assumption that those with mental illness requiring long term medication, and in many cases will need medication for a life time to be contributing to the “abuse” of prescription medications. “There is already a prescription drug abuse problem in the U.S. In 2009, seven million (citizens) confessed to taking prescription medication for nonmedical use.”

    A very poorly written article in so many ways. I’m glad you and others are contacting and letting them know in no uncertain terms how inappropriate this piece was, and that by silencing educated and knowledgeable comments from those actually living with mental illness, they do themselves a great disservice.

    I did see your comments and several others, so this confused me as to whether they removed them and left these up, as your blog mentioned they removed them all and disabled the comment option. It appears on the link you provided in your blog post that comments do show and are still allowed to be posted? Here’s the link I’m talking of: http://www.thedaonline.com/opinion/column-depression-can-be-treated-through-lifestyle-changes-1.2674805#.TrlxHYYR-yV

  4. Hi Andrea,

    Well, Breggin is a whole other matter altogether. That guy would probably ban someone for using the name of a pharmaceutical. He’s a zealot.

    And yes, you’re right, people who are successful on medications are persecuted by some. I would tend to agree that there is only so much self-help that can work with a serious mental illness, but then, Breggin wouldn’t care much for me either.

    As for the university’s website, I am trying to get them to address it by emailing them, but so far I haven’t even received a response.

    – Natasha

  5. I was blocked from commenting on Peter R. Breggin, MD’s Facebook page. He is a well known psychiatrist who is now a leader in the antipsychiatry movement. I simply commented about how my treatments and therapy have allowed me to become more productive than I was before I was diagnosed with Bipolar I, and that was enough to get me blocked. It is a shame that some publications and organizations refuse to recognize that people can be helped by psychiatric interventions. There is only so much self help that works when it comes to treating serious mental illnesses. Even those of us who are doing well are discriminated against simply because we have been diagnosed with a mental illness. I am very irritated to read that they removed your comments from their website.

  6. Penny,

    Thanks for the comment both here and on the Burble. And yes, I’d love to hear what went on in the editorial meeting that decided to remove all the comments from the article.

    – Natasha

  7. It’s an awful column, even for opinions (especially for opinions! I was an op-ed editor – research is not optional for a proper opinions article!) I really want to know what was going on in that editorial meeting… (left a proper comment on your blog, first time commenter on either!)
    Best, and good luck.

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