Do People Want You To Stay Mentally Ill?
While it seems hard to believe, some people want others to stay mentally ill and, indeed, sometimes even individuals themselves, choosing to maintain mental unwellness. You have the obvious example of people refusing medication and thus becoming very sick but there are other forces as well that can encourage a person to stay acutely, mentally ill.
People Who Want to Remain Mentally Ill
It’s pretty much unthinkable to me that someone would want to remain mentally ill, but it’s true, some people do. For me, when I’m acutely unwell it comes with such suffering that I can’t imagine not being treated for it, but such is not the same for everyone. Some people with bipolar, for example, would rather have the bouts of pain, which may not be as long or as severe, if they also have the bouts of mania or hypomania. Maybe they’re an artist and they feel more creative in a manic phase. Well, that’s their prerogative, I suppose.
Others Who Want People to Remain Mentally Ill
But what is perhaps very sneaky and decidedly damaging is the message we get from others that we “should” remain mentally ill. That we shouldn’t take our medication. That we should embrace the suffering that is mental illness.
Why Would Anyone Want to Sabotage Us Like That?
Well, there are multiple reasons. First, there are others with a mental illness who cannot deal with their own struggles and admitting that we have a mental illness that needs treatment implies that they do too, and they can’t handle that reality. This is just sad all over the place.
Others may “like” us more when we’re ill. People may think we’re the life of the party while manic and don’t see the suffering that comes with it. This is selfish, of course, on the part of the others.
Still others may not be able to accept our mental illness and thus don’t want us to get treatment as it would be like admitting there is a problem. Or maybe they fundamentally disagree with medication and treatment and expect us to share the same viewpoint. (By the way, it’s really easy to fundamentally disagree with a treatment you don’t need.) Again, this is selfish point of view.
None of these people have our best interests at heart. None of these people are thinking about us. All of these people are just thinking of themselves and their own hang-ups. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t exert pressure and that doesn’t mean that pressure can’t get to us.
What To Do About People Who Want Us To Remain Ill
Honestly? I would tell them to, um, flake off. Like, seriously. If he or she is going to act so ignorantly and selfishly I have no time for him. I feel sorry that he can’t put someone else’s wellbeing in perspective.
But if I was really tied to that person I might try educating him. I think the idea that you would encourage a person to remain ill is the result of a lack of knowledge about what it’s really like to be ill. If someone thinks I’m just “down” sometimes and “up” other times then seeking (often painful) treatments doesn’t make as much sense. But if the person understands the kind of suffering that goes along with mental illness then he may begin to understand the need for treatment.
And education is relatively easy with the internet streaming into everyone’s homes. Just show him sites and articles that you think speak to what mental illness is. Or better yet, print out articles that make the most sense and hand them to the individual. (HealthyPlace has a myriad of articles on bipolar disorder. I wrote most of them.)
I know I harp on and on about education for ourselves and others but I really do think it solves many problems. I do believe the path to enlightenment and support begins with learning. And if the person still doesn’t support your need for treatment? Then you probably need to separate yourself from that person until you are strong enough to stand up to him. It’s sad, but try to remember that the pressure he’s exerting isn’t healthy for you and your health has to come first – no matter what ridiculous things other people want.
Tracy, N. (2013, June 3). Do People Want You To Stay Mentally Ill?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2013/06/people-want-you-stay-mentally-ill
Author: Natasha Tracy
When my symptoms improved, of course I tried going off of my medications. Did that twice. Both times I ended up in the hospital. I have had 3 psychotic episodes, 2 of which happened after I ditched my meds. Now, as someone mentioned, I don't know if those symptoms were withdrawal symptoms or not. But I doubt it. Because even at the beginning, before I was on meds, I had those symptoms. My meds now are working well enough that I am not bat shit crazy.
Yes, my doc at times has encouraged me to take my meds but has never insisted that I would always need them. He's always said that some of my meds may just be needed long enough to stabilize me. And that has happened. There were times in my life that I went off a med because it was no longer needed.
And as for others wanting me to stay ill? Who? My husband who had to basically handle every single thing for me for long periods of time, including my son? My family really doesn't care at all, they just avoid me. And I no longer have friends.
Maybe some people want to remain ill, but it's beyond comprehension that they would. If they are truly ill with a MH disorder, they would never want to remain in that state. As for codependents and such, that's just sad. Please do not be selfish so that you can get the attention of a martyr. That's a life you are messing with and they could possibly feel so much better without your "care".
I'm not saying any of this can or cannot occur, I just wanted to speak to my point of view on this. But this is MY experience, not yours, and I'm not a doctor in any way. I just want to see people feel better, whatever that means for them.
The first time I was involuntarily committed to hospital was because of a breakdown caused by a lack of support, mostly from family members, who did not want to believe me when I told them I was molested by my step father. They tried and successfully succeeded in literally driving me crazy to shut me up. I remember throwing my hands up in the air with tears streaming down my face saying, there now, are you satisfied, you won, because now there is no way anyone is ever gonna believe me. I've been labeled mentally ill and after all who is gonna believe a crazy person... I was so heavily medicated I felt completely helpless, scared and alone. (I'm not saying that maybe there weren't other things going on as well in conjunction to all this. But because my biological mother committed suicide it was automatically assumed I was genetically predispositioned to be crazy which didn't help my case.) My adoptive mother was co-dependant/financially dependent on my step-father. My brother told me he still liked my step father even after I told him what he'd done. They had simular personalities. Our adoptive father was bisexual so my heterosexual brother did not want to identify with our bisexual dad and chose to identify with our child molesting stepfather instead. Only after my brothers own daughter was molested by her step father did he softened his views. My adoptive father who at first seemed supportive and my step father are brothers and hated each other which didn't help either. Families can be so complex, can't they....
So back to John's comments (see above) I seemed to have the cards stacked against me. Because I'm on such low doses of medication I often wonder if my moods are truly caused by a mental illness or are they simply the result of environmental factors. Because of a learned helplessness resulting from past abuse have I just given up and begun accepting my fate believing that difficult situations will always be beyond my control? Some days I seem to think so, other days not. The medication has definately helped to calm me, but I also have less energy now than I ever did before and with each successive hospitalization a little bit more of me dies...
Every psychiatrist I have ever had in the past 10 years inpatient or outpatient says the drugs are not all that effective for many people and that the drugs can be worse than the illness, and that people relapse on meds and off meds and that when someone cold turkeys off meds, they are likely in drug withdrawal and it isn't necessarily the illness coming back. And so on. There is the official statements that places like NAMI put out, and then there is what psychiatrists tell you personally. A lot of psychiatrists who blog say the same things I was personally told by my providers, who were mainstream doctors (not fringe psychiatrists that I sought out). This message that a person with bipolar MUST take drugs no matter what, even if the drugs don't work or don't work well enough to be worth the side effects and health harms - who put that message out? Not most psychiatrists! Not any that I have ever seen over the past many years, inpatient and outpatient. It is big pharma who put that message out there, and btw, NAMI gets nearly all their funding from big pharma. In recent years, as it comes out how much big pharma seeded the journals with fake research, psychiatrists have been much less sure of what they say. And as someone else mentioned, I also think some of these drugs are soul-suckers, and the person taking the drugs may be so impaired they can't tell what has happened. I blame antipsychotics for this. They did it to me for many years, and didn't help the depression one bit either, but I believed NAMI and kept taking that crap. Unfortunately, there are ZERO alternatives to drugs for bipolar because society thinks we are dangerous axe murderers and don't deserve better treatment than antipsychotics. (I would take lithium again for severe mania, but ha ha, that is a naturally occurring salt and no motive for anyone to promote that)
Unless you were referring to the risks of drug withdrawal from coldy turkeying, re: lithium and atypicals, plenty of psychiatrists who blog don't want most bipolar patients on atypical antipsychotics and would like them to taper off ASAP. The director of the NIMH, Tom Insel, recently admitted that people with schizophrenia often do better off those drugs, too, but nobody will spread the message more publically because everyone thinks it will be like folks cold turkeyed and think they will all flip out.
Now, that could happen. I have had many unfortunate suicide attempts yet the medication never seemed to work much.
When I was having a series of Major Depressive Disorders, I was so crazy that people chose not to be around me. That was painful as depression is a disorder of isolation and I really wanted some company. Just some company, Many people thought I was malingering and faking, they would deny my suicide attempts ("If you really wanted to die, you would have gotten it right the first time." my sister told me). I was stuck in the Black Hole and I did not know how to get out 6 months of residential treatment helped a great deal.
It was not until this last 18 months where I can see myself choosing the old reactions of being mentally ill for sympathy or whatever. I see and hear myself do it and I have to stay focused on the increasingly good things that are happening in my life. It was so bad at one point that many good things were going on and I could not see one of them. Not one. It has been hard work bringing myself out of the negative microscopic thinking.
My experience is that people really don't want to be around very depressed and actively suicidal people. After 4 years now, I still feel like I have the cooties. My family has not spoken to me once for over 3 years. To make all this much worse, I am a psychologist and my falling apart all took place quite publicly. My colleagues who I thought would be compassionate have been the biggest assholes I have met. It has made me wonder whether I want to remain a therapist with clinicians like this.
Most of the time, my children and few good friends really want me to be well and happy. They still all worry about me and I worry about me. I had an attempt right before Xmas. When will this end and yet I believe I make choices that help end it. I have to stay away from negative folks, I had to change jobs, I watch funny shows (30 Rock!), blah, blah.
The pharmaceutical industry and psychiatry have a huge huge investment in us remaining sick. We are their paying consumers. They don't want to lose us yet I just don't buy into "one must take their meds". There are exceptions such as Lithium, atypical antipsychotics, etc.
Ultimately, I think we would benefit the most from fresh air and sunshine.
Love to you all.
i've beaten the organic rap these days, for the moment anyway, although it's taken me many years and so much heartache, so many people harmed along the way by the system here. but in my head, the anxiety, the depression, the futility and stuff, it's hard, like i'm always afraid of being harmed or got at, but i can't get any support or help with that. seriously, the police stop the mental health services from approaching me these days, that's a relief.
I think acceptance of an illness - any illness - is hard. Commenters on this brought up some good points as well. Some people aren't aware of their illness until something brings it to light - like in my case, a switch to a manic episode due to antidepressants. Boy, was I angry about this, but I can't really fault the doctor. They were treating what looked like depression afterall. If places were switched I might have made the same mistake as well. But the trouble that followed...
I like that this article encourages educating others, but realistically, it is tiring to do this, knowing that the other party is too unreceptive to be enlightened.
I can forgive ignorance, but someone who purposely provokes a person who is disabled or in distress is abhorrent to me. I have to wonder about their view of the world, causing them to be "ok" with such bad treatment of others and doing whatever they can to confirm and validate it - even if it means they have to go to extreme and unethical ways to do this.
Others may want a person to stay medicated as they are easier to manage that way. Continued medication suits the 'carers' but damages distressed person.
Having a population of people in need of 'treatment' keeps many professionals and industries making a career and money.
Wanting to be well can bring a lot of pain, work and responsibility. I can understand why some would choose to avoid that.
Some have been convinced by 'experts' that they can never get better and so they give up on trying.
1) having been on depakoate @ two points until side effects outweighed gains, it's a cost benefit analysis. Research says that psych meds not taken at exactly same rate as any other strong med is not taken. Normal.
2) Also normal for humans to shoot themselves in the foot in so many ways. A joy of getting older and learning-- less self-destruction. In context of what others around us want (said above) AND of abuse/neglect. We speak in deeper reality if we are trauma informed; see ACE study for science, we all know/are affected by trauma-- doesn't fade easily.
3) had a friend say, "don't take away my PTSD" because it was economic source of SSDI (or veterans') benefits. Look at surge in kids with diagnoses-- diagnoses pay. Sorry. Sad.
I'm not suggesting that she refuses on purpose. She may or she may do it subconsciously because I don't know if she is aware that something else is going on besides what she knows she has.
Unfortunately, the attention she gets is the wrong kind. Her emotional instability and lack of regard for boundaries garners her negative attention. Relationships with her family have suffered greatly and she has very few friends.
There are also risks associated with these meds, some we may not know until we're older, and while some people might feel it's worth the risk, not all of us do. It's not unreasonable to refuse something that might lead or contribute to heart or liver disease. To say the person would rather be ill is malarkey. Sometimes it's hard to choose between one form of suffering and another.
Artists and writers sometimes find their creativity and motivation dulls on meds. Being creative is a major aspect of one's personality, and most identify themselves by their talents.
I'm on medications, but my physician wants me to go off a couple of them (under supervision of my pdoc), because they contribute to my sugar cravings and obesity. These meds are known to possibly raise blood sugar and can lead to diabetes, which is what I'm trying to avoid.
Some people find no meds seem to work, or work well. I'm still suffering, but I'm worse off meds, so I continue to take what works. I'm always hoping for some new, revolutionary treatment (or dare I hope for a cure?), but again, there are always side effects. Sexual side effects and tremors can become permanent, even if you go off the meds. You can sing the praises of meds, but they're not ambrosia.
Sometimes the meds don't help and it's obvious on the outside. When your best friend, who used to be creative and had spark albeit was troubled fades before your eyes. Meds "work" so well she doesn't care she fails in school and everything is drifting from her. It's scary to see body of your friend moving around without their soul in there (yes, I know somebody will say how it's their "illness" not medication doing this. I don't believe it... if the meds work so well, this obviously wouldn't happen).
I wouldn't tell person for whom medical treatment is more or less working to drop it. But if they visibly HATE the effect of drugs on them and nothing seems to be working, then I encourage them to discover options outside of the mainstream model. Often it works.
In addition... I don't see that many people outthere saying "stay ill". Of course, some don't believe in illness concept, but it's not even "stay troubled". Most common idea among those who aren't pro-psych is "find your way to feel better". Maybe some people don't think your cycles have to be flattened... but that's not the same as "stay ill". It's more of "learn to live and thrive with wide range of emotions" and "learn to cope with the symptoms".
Nobody wants to "remain ill" either. PEOPLE JUST DON'T SEE THEIR EXPERIENCE AS "ILLNESS". And it's not denial... it's just an opossing philosophy to the one expressed here. If it works for some... why not look deeper into it... rather then try to force other to go by model that is clearly not working for some who promote it?
By the way, "Breaking Bipolar" Rocks. I love this blog!