Shallowness in Hollywood

It’s a strange thing that a man has to wear a fat suit to be a love interest for Chrissy Metz’ characters. OK, a little background: The man who plays Kate Pearson’s love interest has a fat suit. It does not take away from the person’s authenticity, but it reveals an ugly truth about the state of Hollywood and Television execs: Those people believe a man cannot accept a woman with a perceived flaw unless they have that flaw themselves, and in a worse manner. It turns out, men in Hollywood are Shallow Hals. Does anybody remember Shallow Hal? It was a movie done in 2001 in which a man has to overcome his defining trait to find true love. I think all of Hollywood should watch it, as a lesson to themselves. This leads me to a sad conclusion: If a man is so shallow that they have to date somebody skinny, the standard of beauty these days, where does that leave a fat girl like me? Alone.

Here’s the trouble with losing weight: I am not a skinny little broomstick. I never was, even at my skinniest. When I weighed 125 pounds, I still had curves. So, there are two choices when dealing with men’s shallowness: Accept loneliness and hate myself, or find a man who is not so shallow. But where is a man who is not as shallow? How far away from the media must I roam to find this golden man?

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What to Do About Mental Health Stigma 

STIG-MA (noun):

a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person:
“the stigma of mental disorder”

synonyms shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation

Source: Oxford University Press

*****

I just realized something: Mental Health Stigma is not killed through lecture. Sure, I can sit and talk about how mental health stigma hurts, but I can also offer some tips to combat it. Research is fairly sparse on the topic – how to combat mental health stigma – but I’ve been looking at it anyway. There are a few tips to consider:

1) Combat internal stigma: Internalized stigma is not really your fault. It’s instilled in you by your family, your friends, the media, and even strangers. You might want to think of your mind as a sponge – if it sits in the dirty water of stigma, it will eventually absorb the dirty water of stigma. Get yourself away from those who are living in the dirty water as much as possible; however, we are talking about cleaning out the dirty water you have already absorbed. Here are a few things to consider:

-Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorder are real medical illnesses. Why are they published in medical journals if they’re not?

-See a therapist if you can. I know that often, people are

-Don’t self-medicate. Using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs to make yourself feel better often leads to addiction, and a troubling condition called Dual Diagnosis. I don’t know much about this condition, but bringing on multiple conditions is not recommended for anyone. It takes you the rest of your life of taking care of yourself to live well with mental illness; it takes just as long to recover from addiction.

2) No Name Calling: From one “Crazy” or “Nutjob” to another, those words hurt. They are just as derogatory as racial slurs, and calling something “gay” when you mean stupid. As far as I’m concerned, this name calling is hate and discrimination.

3) Praise for Seeking Help: If you don’t get that it’s good to get professional help with your brain, I’m here to tell you this. It’s good to get professional help for your brain. Your brain is a complex medical instrument that often requires a professional’s expertise to get it working properly. If no one tells you this, know that you are a good person for seeking professional help. Remember, you are not Superman.

4) Take Care of Yourself: I cannot stress this enough – self care is essential. What people do not get about self care is that it is not always the glamorous bubble bath most people picture it to be. Self care is taking your medication even though you gag on the larger medicines. Self care can be the bubble bath or treating yourself, but it’s other things, too. Self care is seeking help if you need it. Self care is resting when you need it. Self care is getting to your therapy appointments. Self care is learning that you can still live a full and productive life with your state of mental health. Self care is not self-medicating.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If others want to contribute tips and tricks for combating mental health stigma, by all means, tell me.

Mental Health Stigma Hurts Us All  

“Take your meds, move along.” That’s what I tell myself every once in a while now when I am tempted to not take the medicines I use to stay somewhat healthy. Don’t get me wrong; there are times I gag when I put the larger ones in my mouth. I still take the medicine anyway because it’s the easiest way to take it. Some people need it as a shot every two weeks; some people can just take the medicine as a daily pill. (There are probably other ways, but I’m not knowledgeable in all of them.) Here’s the trouble: I know of at least one person who avoids taking medicine and would prefer multiple stays in a mental hospital. Why? Why do a large number of people avoid taking the medicine at all? Why do people not accept that the medicine helps? Better yet, why does it take extreme drama and possibly even a revocation of possible rights to get some people to take medicine at all? Could it be due to mental health stigma?

First, let us define stigma.

Stigma:

A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.  (Oxford University Press)

Well, isn’t that special? Having a mental illness is a mark of disgrace in this society. That makes perfect sense. People don’t want to be disgraced. The disgraced are hated and discriminated against. What does that lead to? America’s largest mental health facility is inside Chicago’s Cook County Jail. The disgraced are also criminalized, too, by the way. So it takes a crime to get a person the help they need without submitting to the stigma? Who has to suffer because of it? No, it’s no longer who has to suffer. The question is now this: Who has to die? How many people have to die before they recognize stigma does not work?

This is how stigma works: Stigma gets a person thinking they cannot be loved and accepted with the particular quality (aka Mental Illness), so they hide it. And hide it with drinking, drugs, eating, and maybe something else. Until it backfires and is revealed. Usually, there has to be a crime before somebody intervenes because then the person can be removed from society with approval, if they have not already done so themselves (ex. suicide).  Nobody wants to do anything, or even believe there is a problem at all, until the problem hurts permanently. Even then, some families of suicide remove the person from their memory, and try to make the problem go away again. Repeat the cycle until somebody finally speaks up, or until death affects the family visually. Or, maybe, until suicide becomes homicide.

So, what’s the solution? The solution is painfully obvious: end the stigma. Make it okay to take care of your mental health. Don’t make a person think they have to be Mental Superman. Mental Superman does not exist. I think you need to make it okay to take your medicine. Take your meds, move along.

Mental Health Stigma Hurts Us All

“Take your meds, move along.” That’s what I tell myself every once in a while now when I am tempted to not take the medicines I use to stay somewhat healthy. Don’t get me wrong; there are times I gag when I put the larger ones in my mouth. I still take the medicine anyway because it’s the easiest way to take it. Some people need it as a shot every two weeks; some people can just take the medicine as a daily pill. (There are probably other ways, but I’m not knowledgeable in all of them.) Here’s the trouble: I know of at least one person who avoids taking medicine and would prefer multiple stays in a mental hospital. Why? Why do a large number of people avoid taking the medicine at all? Why do people not accept that the medicine helps? Better yet, why does it take extreme drama and possibly even a revocation of possible rights to get some people to take medicine at all? Could it be due to mental health stigma?

First, let us define stigma.

Stigma:

A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.  (Oxford University Press)

Well, isn’t that special? Having a mental illness is a mark of disgrace in this society. That makes perfect sense. People don’t want to be disgraced. The disgraced are hated and discriminated against. What does that lead to? America’s largest mental health facility is inside Chicago’s Cook County Jail. The disgraced are also criminalized, too, by the way. So it takes a crime to get a person the help they need without submitting to the stigma? Who has to suffer because of it? No, it’s no longer who has to suffer. The question is now this: Who has to die? How many people have to die before they recognize stigma does not work?

This is how stigma works: Stigma gets a person thinking they cannot be loved and accepted with the particular quality (aka Mental Illness), so they hide it. And hide it with drinking, drugs, eating, and maybe something else. Until it backfires and is revealed. Usually, there has to be a crime before somebody intervenes because then the person can be removed from society with approval, if they have not already done so themselves (ex. suicide).  Nobody wants to do anything, or even believe there is a problem at all, until the problem hurts permanently. Even then, some families of suicide remove the person from their memory, and try to make the problem go away again. Repeat the cycle until somebody finally speaks up, or until death affects the family visually. Or, maybe, until suicide becomes homicide.

So, what’s the solution? The solution is painfully obvious: end the stigma. Make it okay to take care of your mental health. Don’t make a person think they have to be Mental Superman. Mental Superman does not exist. I think you need to make it okay to take your medicine. Take your meds, move along.

Getting the Portrayal Wrong 

I’m remembering a really bad movie I saw last year: Zoolander 2. More importantly, I’m remembering the Razzie award-nominated portrayal of All, the supposedly gender fluid model in an earlier portion of the movie. This is in no way a defense of the portrayal. This is an explanation of what actually is wrong with the portrayals that come up with marginalized people, especially if those specific people are not involved. The problem is this: the portrayal that does not involve actual research, involving actual people, is usually stereotyped, flat, often deviant, and almost always wrong.

Does anybody remember the 1988 movie “Rain Man?” I know that you are probably groaning right now, considering my regular readership. Most autistic people hate Rain Man and many subsequent portrayals of autism that do not involve the actually autistic. This “Rain Man” is a perfect example of what I say – that a first and many subsequent portrayals that are not involving actually autistic people. The only portrayals of an autistic person I have liked are the one by Claire Danes, of Temple Grandin, and Dr. Latham from Chicago Med. (I’m currently wavering on Dr. Latham – it seems a little checklist-driven.) The point is, a person from the margins of society must be involved for the portrayal to be whole. My problems with most portrayals is this:

Stereotypes and Deviancy

My initial problem with a marginalized portrayal is that it’s usually based on stereotypes. Remember the portrayals of blacks in the 1930s? They were usually a Mammy, a singer, or someone usually incompetent. Don’t get me started on how the black female romantic lead had to be light-skinned – or white-looking. Usually, the dark-skinned black person was regulated to the role of prostitute or criminal. It’s sad that I have to look to the 21st Century to see Viola Davis in non-criminal roles – and her resume is not even criminal free (How to Get Away With Murder, anyone?). How long before a regular actor of dark skin can escape portraying a criminal?

Wrongness

It’s absolutely necessary to note, back in Rain Man, that the man who is the real-life inspiration behind the “gold standard” for autism portrayal, diagnosis and future study, was not even autistic. He had FG Syndrome, a genetic anomaly on his chromosomes. It mimics autism, but it is not autism. The reason I look at Claire Danes’ portrayal of Temple Grandin is because it was much more accurate in showing how autism can actually give a different world experience, and might actually – GASP!!! – help the person. It’s a shame that a person along the margins of society cannot be given a proper portrayal unless they come out of the closet and show people how they are.

The Problem

The problem with all this is: people rely on portrayals of others and their own experiences to believe the person when they come out as, say, autistic, or gay, or even with anxiety. Due to these inaccurate portrayals of the trait or condition, they usually do not believe an autistic person unless they act like Rain Man, of more appropriately, “my cousin’s uncle’s brother’s sister’s former roommate’s son – he is autistic.” The autistic person has to literally justify their diagnosis. They have to lower their competency to be believed. They have to act like Rain Man.

Expectation vs. Reality: Valentine’s Day 2017 –

Via Daily Prompt: Expectation

Let’s get one thing straight: Often, reality does not meet expectation, let alone surpass it. I was expecting to be attached to somebody romantically this Valentine’s Day, but I’m not, for example. To me, though, expectation is no big deal. I can deal with a single Valentine’s Day. I have been for years. There is a no-worry plan to deal with Valentine’s Day, or as some singles like to call it, Singles Awareness Day.

1) Drop expectations – What do you have to worry about if you don’t have anyone to expect anything from? You’re totally free from it. I mean, sure, your friends or family may have something to celebrate or expect, but you, don’t worry about it. There is nothing to tether you to expectation.

2) Surround yourself with things and people you love – I’ve done it already this morning: I’ve got my new Doctor Strange Funko mug. I’ve already got my chocolate, my coffee, my favorite pajamas, and my later plans to go out to lunch with my mother, whom I love dearly. Love is the theme of the day; surround yourself with people and things for it.

3) Don’t get bitter – Why get bitter? Maybe you don’t have what they call a “soul mate.” Besides, the “soulmate” theory came from a belief that the human soul was divided into two genders, male and female. I’m not going to get into it, but I believe 1+1=2. You are a whole, complete person by yourself. Besides, would you really want to be in a relationship where the person abuses you because you don’t want to be alone? You know there’s various caveats to that, and that’s one of them. Besides, just because your life hasn’t worked out right doesn’t mean others haven’t either.

4) Celebrate others’ relationships – There are plenty of people to whom Valentine’s Day has a more special significance. For example, my own parents were married on Valentine’s Day. Find someone who has this kind of significance – like a birthday, perhaps? People were born today, too. But I digress. Sometimes you have to absorb another’s positive energy, sometimes you don’t. Don’t worry about it.

I hope I may have been helpful with some suggestions in dealing with this day, if you are having trouble.

ADDENDUM (8:15 p.m.):

My experiment actually worked. We went out to a pretty good place to eat, and I realized this: I could eat onion. (Onion curls, but I digress.) I survived this day just fine.

 

Hiding Your True Self

It’s a troubling thing I have come up with: I often wonder if I would have succeeded more, or gotten more in life, if I had not known or revealed my autism? I sometimes think that, but then I remind myself: lots of people have to hide certain “undesirable” traits about themselves, like choosing a “less black” name for a baby to make a resume more “acceptable” to certain hiring staff. (I watched an episode of Blackish a couple nights ago. Bear with me; it was a plotline.) It troubles me that people feel the need to hide their true selves. It’s a form of lying. Somehow, the truth will always out itself. A funny thing about lies: little white ones always grow and get color to them.

About lying about yourself: it’s often necessary to hide your diagnosis, or your race, or your nationality, etc. In order to be accepted to people who would judge you as “less.” So, maybe they’re partly responsible for people hiding themselves. Of course, I’m not placing blame on any system or person. Nobody gets away clean in the bigotry-and-hiding-cycle. The gatekeeper is a bigot; the person trying to get in is a liar. I think we may have to completely reject the whole cycle to get away from it. It is a big mess.

Echo Chambers and Yes Men

I wonder if my blog is not more exposed or read because it’s more politically conservative. That worries me. I mean, I’m not exactly an echo chamber, but is the echo chamber what the people really want?

Do people really just want echo chambers?

Why do people just want to be agreed with? Is it pride? Is it the fear of pain when the mind if being stretched? It bothers me that many people only want to be agreed with. I mean, it may involve a little humiliation. It may involve the stripping away of pride. It may involve being vulnerable. Thing is, when your mind grows, it grows out of the confines of the box you put it in. I mean, what if your idea is a bad one? Don’t you want to know that your idea will fail? Plus, when your idea fails, you will be humiliated further than seeking out the advice you needed for it to succeed. You don’t want to be exposed as a fool. That’s the trouble with echo chambers and Yes Men. They will not shield you from being exposed as a fool.