As a survivor of repeated attempted suicide, someone who’s lost an uncle to suicide, a mental health and suicide prevention advocate, a public health professional, someone who’s been hospitalized and spent weeks inside a psych ward, someone who’s gone through years of inpatient, outpatient, and on my part, impatient treatment, and continues to live and battle with ADD, OCD, GAD, and MDD, someone with a heart in a heartless world:
MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT YOUR CAUSE DU JOUR. MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT SEXY. MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A BADGE OF HONOR. MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT FOR YOU TO PIMP. MENTAL ILLNESS IS REAL. MENTAL ILLNESS DEMANDS AND DESERVES RESPECT.
There is nothing more blood-boiling, more saddening and maddening, more obscenely, exquisitely annoying and aggravating, than seeing the nebulous concept of “mental health” become the latest bandwagon.
The work real activists and advocates do is entirely unglamorous. It is brutal. It is thankless. It is behind the scenes. It is not something to trophy around on social media. It is much, much, deeper than likes and shares.
It means going to state legislatures and Medicaid offices to testify, petition and sometimes beg. It means appealing to political dynasties and gridlocked congressional bodies to enact meaningful reform.
It means crowdsourcing attention, pageviews and clicks to ask why there’s still not enough funding for greater research, clinical trails for novel therapeutic modalities, and resources for veterans with PTSD.
It means I don’t do this to be liked, championed or lionized. I do it because I’m familiar with the shadows and silences. It means I have the image of my uncle’s dead body printed onto me as my first memory.
It means I don’t have a filter, I don’t fear any backlash, professional or personal, I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks of my work, I don’t change my approach because I know I’m the best at this for my generation.
It means I’m beyond fully invested in this cause. It means I have the professional credentials to say I’m an activist. It means I have a backlog of countless of coaching clients and interventions I’ve done.
It means I do what I do to help save millions of lives, prevent millions more from being lost, and I don’t appreciate well-intentioned stupidity from absolute amateurs who cause way more harm than help.
And what do I mean? The usual bullshit. “Shrinks are evil”. “You don’t need your meds”. “It’s possible to cure anxiety and depression”. Cure. CURE. Sorry. The Nobel Prize in Medicine should have been given to you.
Please, for God’s sake whether you believe in one or several or none, for my sake, for fuck’s sake: if you have no qualifications in the fields of public health, medicine, psychiatry, and crisis management, STFU.
Amateurs worry about reputation.
Professionals worry about character.
Amateurs are obvious opportunists.
Professionals and their work endure.
CALLS TO ACTION
1. Recommend this story. It helps others see the story, lets me know my work is worth writing, reading and recommending and makes me feel validated and fuzzy, because honestly, whose cold, dead heart isn’t instantly thawed and revived by the dizzying dopamine of notifications? Like, share, retweet, lather, rinse, repeat. Also, the doctors say if I don’t feel fuzzy, I’ll die, due to a rare deficiency in social currency triggered whenever my Klout score drops below 70. It’s 67 right now. Not a good look. Do you want me to die?! Didn’t think so.
2. Share this story: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, etc.
3. Connect with me: Medium, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Product Hunt, AngelList, Quora and Quibb. (I think that’s all of them!) Write me via email too! Call or text if you want. (917) 982–3849. I’m always happy to make new friends, listen, support, and be helpful in any way I can. That’s why I’m Medium’s resident cheerleader, duh! :)