Hollywood Depression: It Can Be Wrong

A take down of various stereotypes dealing with pop culture’s misgivings about clinical depression, as presented by this Buzzfeed article. 

Now, I try not to talk too much about myself, but sometimes my own personal experience and the portrayals of that experience in pop culture and media can be so unduly, undoubtedly different. These are not all the misgivings and stereotypes in Hollywood Depression, but they are ones I can address easily. For example: “First of all, depression always looks beautiful — beautiful characters crying, staring out windows, taking a listless shower, etc. etc. etc., beautifully.” 

Now, let’s get one thing straight: not everything is a wonderful plate of listless ennui fashioned for some invisible camera. Sometimes depression is eating too much, or eating too little. Sometimes, it’s the ugly cry. Sometimes it’s being too depressed to even cry. You ever think about that?  

Characters with depression are pretty much always reduced to being ~sad~.”  

Have you ever considered that people with depression are not always sad? We are not a single emotion. It’s like a person, on the flip side, with mania. People with mania are not always happy. I often find myself putting out a fake smile, or a genuine smile at times, but I still find myself often angry, often sad, yes, and even often happy. Again, we are not cartoons. 

“Most of the time, depression is triggered by Dramatic Plot Elements.” 

This was not true with me. Depression, in my case, came upon me slowly, in the night, under cover of darkness. It was slowly and undetected, until it was almost too late. I did not even remember showing signs of depression or major red flags, until my mother came to me after just receiving a call about something I had written. (More about that later.) 

And because of that, depression always culminates as a big blowup or breakdown. 

No, no huge blowup, no huge breakdown. As a matter of fact, when my depression was discovered, I had barely any feeling left in my body, and although I could not communicate it at the time, I was starting to see things under a cover of hazy gray. No, there was no gigantic yelling and screaming fit.  

Or if a character valiantly pretends they’re fine and doesn’t succumb to their depression, the audience is obviously supposed to think they’re strong and brave. 

This goes back to the fact that “Strong and Brave” people are uncharacteristically portrayed as not having any feelings. This is a tenet of toxic masculinity, or perhaps of not showing any vulnerability. Perhaps this stereotype is what often leads to suicide   

In fact, most of the boring parts of dealing with depression are erased. 

Of course, because they’re not either “beautiful” or “dramatic,” but they’re real life. Why don’t you ever show the real side of depression, Hollywood? Try showing not having the energy to lift a hairbrush? Or, just looking in the mirror with barely any energy to open your eyes? 

Depression is treated as an alluring or mysterious trait that draws the attention of a love interest. 

Oooh, romance! The fix-all for any sadness! That is an insult to anyone and everyone with clinical depression. If romance and/or sex was the cure, the clinics would do that. Besides, this points out an insidious stereotype that depression is rational. Depression is not rational. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. 

AND THEN THAT LOVE INTEREST ALWAYS ~FIXES~ THE PERSON WITH DEPRESSION. 

As above, this is not only wrong, it is insulting. Chester Bennington had the great wife, the great kids, and yet he still took his life. Depression is not rational.  

If treatment IS explored, it’s always super easy and straightforward. 

Well, often treatment is a long, tedious process. It often goes with trying to find the right medicine, the right therapist, the right clinic. Nobody ever tells you that. Again, depression is not rational. 

Speaking of therapists, they’re usually portrayed as pretty useless. 

What did talking out and working out the issues ever do for anyone, right? Wrong. Working out and talking out the issues has often averted wars. Why does it not work for people willing to talk, listen and be honest? 

When treatment is shown in a positive light, it’s always super linear and FAST. 

This is wishful thinking. We always want the quick fix, the easy solution, the fast-working drug. If those worked, we would do that. It is also insulting to those who need more research, more diagnosis, more help.

There aren’t many examples of high-functioning people with depression, rather than people whose depression completely derails their life. 

Now, I currently have a “high-functioning” form of depression. You know what I feel about the functioning label, but when people are handling their troubles well, apparently they are not worthy of the Hollywood stereotype. Even people who actually are handling their depression must be derailed and sent back to the mental ward to show the seriousness of the problem.  

Pretty much every depressed character is also suicidal at some point.  

Now, I may have been suicidal at one point, but I am not suicidal anymore. In fact, when I was getting my diagnosis, I was actually beginning to climb out of the pit of suicidal ideation. I was regretting my decision. Then, a diagnosis was given and I received more help.  

More often than not, a character with depression fits a specific stereotype. 

I know this particular type. You know, the girl who wears black all the time? In my day, we called them goths; you might call them emo. I must tell you the truth: the goths in my particular high school were actually quite happy people. I thought about going goth for a time, because I bought this stereotype, but as I look back, the people in black actually seemed very pleased. Maybe there’s a thing for being yourself?  

Also, take a look at me. I am currently wearing a bright pink dress with yellow, orange and purple patterns on it. I have brown hair that was once blonde, green hazel eyes, somewhat tanned skin (for Kentucky, anyway,) and big curves. I own a rainbow of clothes I rotate regularly. I have a Pomeranian dog, who loves me to death, and a mother who encourages a happy home. What is goth about this particular depression sufferer?  

And let’s be real, even with positive representations of depression, more often than not, the characters are white. 

Even though I am white, this fact is true: people with depression are not. Trouble is, you kind of have to be white to be noticed by Hollywood. Maybe that’s why most persons of color think mental illness is “white people s***.” This stops a huge number of people from getting the help they need, simply because they think it’s a tool of The Man to keep them at the bottom of the heap.  

Medication is treated like this evil, personality-zapping stuff you should avoid at all costs. 

Again, not true in my case. As a matter of fact, the medicine I take actually helps me function better. Before I took medicine, I liked Pearl Jam, Green Day and rock music in general. After I started taking medicine, I still liked Pearl Jam, Green Day and rock music in general. My personality has not changed.  

And depressed characters are always super creative and artistic. 

I certainly WISH! If I was super creative, artistic and talented, don’t you think I would be in a different kind of existence? Like, actually making money instead of living off the government?  

For some reason, going through depression always ends in some sort of cheesy life lesson.  

If there is one thing about depression, it does not really give you some life lesson. If there is any lesson, it is this: sometimes you have to fight for what you want, whether it’s love, money, or even your life. 

And finally, most of this is covered in the span of a Very Special Episode — or, if we’re lucky, a small arc — then forgotten about forever. 

Don’t even get me started. Depression is not something to be forgotten about. I am reminded every time I eat breakfast. I have been with my diagnosis for twenty-two years! There is no reason for me to stop working on my health.  

All in all, I am utterly disgusted that I have to address mental illness stigma and stereotypes seventeen years into the twenty-first century! When are we ever going to learn?  

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A Closer Look at Glorifying Autism

I just heard the most ridiculous thing: we autistics are “glorifying” autism. I would like to know: How do you do that? How do you glorify something when you can’t help but be that something? This contends to be a twofold problem: One, people are upset that there are autistic people out there in the first place. Two, they are upset that these autistic people are not going away. These accusations of “glorifying” autism are simply one thing in particular: they are undeniable proof that people have a hate of autistic people because they choose not to understand them. They are willfully ignoring us because of anti-autistic prejudice.

Anti-autistic prejudice has existed since the discovery of autism itself. There is no denying that. What exists around it is that people are willing to stick their fingers in their ears and yell “LA LA LA LA LA” at autistic people, as if they think autistic people have no idea what is going on with them. Why do you not take autistic people at their word? Is it because you are going to find out you might be wrong about us? This inexperienced “expertise” is one of the things most Actually Autistic People hate about Autism Speaks. Yeah, there may be so-called “experts” on the field of autism now, but it is only after an autistic campaign of shame and exposure, and for us, it’s too little, too late. Those neurotypical experts, I believe, come from the same position of autism as most White Americans on the position of Africa. The position is as such: they know what it is, they maybe have seen it somewhere, but have they experienced it? No. Only people who have been to Africa can actually tell you about Africa. Likewise, only people who are autistic can fully tell you about the experience of autism.

So, about “glorifying” autism: this seems to me, as I have said before, a simple sign of trouble with autistic people existing. Why don’t you just say: “We hate autistic people?” I mean, be honest. Isn’t that what you always really wanted to say? Usually, somebody talking about “glorifying” something that simply exists is actually wanting to say how much they hate it. They are saying they do not want to be reminded that it exists. They want it to go away. They hate it. They hate us.

Why do I speak of hate in the “glorifying” accusations? Simple: it is there. Usually, when a “glorifying” accusation is thrown out, it is thrown out at something unpleasant that people want to go away. Here are a few: glorifying drugs, glorifying LGBT existence, glorifying single motherhood; I could go on. What all these things people are supposedly glorifying have in common is this: they are unpleasant to some. What these accusations of glorifying do not do is help. They simply drive these unpleasant things underground, where they can thrive in the fertile ground of secrecy. We need to talk of unpleasant things. No, we are not glorifying that.

Too Fat to See the Doctor 

I have been alerted to a fatphobia effect: women are canceling their doctor appointments on the fear that they’re too fat to see them. I can’t say this fear is entirely unwarranted. I mean, every single time I go to the doctor, I am lectured about my weight. I mean, why don’t you just refuse to see me unless I am a size 2? Would make you feel better? Oh, wait. That’s OVERT fat discrimination. You can maybe get sued for that. It’s too obvious. But, honestly, I feel like canceling the doctor and never seeing her again. With my autism, that would be comfortable, but it would also be unhealthy. But here’s the thing: my doctor hates that I’m fat. I don’t even want to go to the doctor anymore. I wish my health insurer would carry a doctor who was fat-friendly. Then maybe I would not dread going to the doctor.

I wonder if Humana offers fat-friendly doctors???

Politics is Now Too Hateful For Me

I try to avoid politics in my work because I want everybody to feel welcome on my site. Honestly, I hate just about everybody involved in politics, and I only stay on social media for my blog. I have thought about quitting many, many times. I absolutely hate that every word of mine is judged by those who would twist the very name of love and/or God itself to their specific agendas. I also hate the fact that everything I say and do means I am either a hater or a snowflake. I even fantasize about leaving the Unites States altogether due to the hellish political climate. So, if you want to discuss politics anymore I will not participate. I am tired of walking on eggshells for the right and the left. So, I am now apolitical. I wash my hands of this political climate. Call me Hitler, call me Stalin, call me every swear word in the book. I am done. I must take care of my mental health in order to survive you. 

So There is an Outbreak of Measles in Minnesota…..

So there is an outbreak of measles in Minnesota among Somali-descended children, spreading to other vulnerable populations. I want you to understand that. What I don’t want you to do is point the finger at me about it. For the longest time, I thought that, being autistic and scary to a neurotypical population that is afraid of me, that I was the cause of unvaccinated measles outbreaks, in Minnesota and Southern California (at Disneyland, no less), especially since Jenny McCarthy literally blamed her son’s autism for all her suffering in life. But, in this case and others, I have already dismissed my existence as a cause of measles outbreaks, especially since now there are more complex, pointed reasons as to why there is an outbreak of measles they are dealing with in Minnesota. I want you to read the next sentences very carefully. That’s why I have separated them out.

*****

The causes of the outbreak of measles in Minnesota are as follows:

  1. Ableism, represented as Anti-autism
  1. Racism
  1. Xenophobia

The causes of the Disneyland outbreak in Southern California are as follows:

  1. Ableism, represented as Anti-autism

*****

These lists are not finished. First, I want to discuss the discovered causes of the measles outbreak in Minnesota. Let me start with ableism.

Thank you so very much, Jenny McCarthy. Thank you, Andrew Wakefield. Thanks a lot, Autism Speaks. While I won’t go into the extremely non-duplicated, thoroughly debunked, corrupt and hateful so-called “study” of how you think the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine causes autism. I have felt personally responsible and personally attacked because of you. You have made children sick because of my existence. You have murdered over nine thousand children as of July 2015. And the cause of all this pain and destruction? The existence of autistic people. I am autistic. Therefore, you make ME a target. Your hatred of me justifies your actions of denying children their health, their immunity, even their lives. You justify your kills because of me. I am tired of being the cause for the loss of innocent lives.

*****

Now, onto the next two causes, because they are interwoven and intersected. They are Racism and Xenophobia.

Now, when most white American people look at Somali immigrants, what do they see? They see dark skin – race being the previous mark of slavery, and they devalue the person. They see a foreigner – those “evil” people trying to come and take their lives, jobs and livelihood. They see a Muslim – and deem them dangerous, evil terrorists, not realizing that most Muslims HATE those terrorists. (Don’t get me started on some of my Muslim friends’ seething rage.) So, when these dark-skinned foreign so-called terrorists come to them with an issue – their children are getting autism – what do those white American people do? They ignore and deny help to these inferior people. So, what does the ableist, Anti-vaccine camp do? They listen, and recruit soldiers for their own terror. Herd immunity is compromised. And children in Minnesota now have measles, many of them hospitalized because their weak and developing immune systems are defenseless against the onslaught. Now do you see how danger and strife can get a foothold due to racism and xenophobia?

*****

I am not here to bring anybody down, or anybody out. I am simply facing hatred in three intersecting directions of ableism, racism and xenophobia. Now, I know I am not black and an immigrant, but I will fight the diseased rot of ableism, racism and xenophobia right alongside its victims. I do it every day – even in my mind. When children are dying, there is something wrong. One absolutely must speak up for the sake of the future. One must speak up for the sake of the suffering children.

 

Blogging Against Disablism: My Experience With Disablism

What is my experience with Disablism? First, let me get this straight: Disablism is another word for Ableism. It’s judging a person as “less” because they’ve got some perceived disability for getting along in this world. Let’s keep that in mind.

So I’ve decided to simply relate my experience with Disablism. Let’s start with when Ableism really hit me in the gut: In college, I decided to reveal to my psychology professor that I was autistic, and could be used as a resource. She simply went, “Awwww!” As in, she felt super sorry for me. I told her I was a resource for autism and autistic therapies, if she wanted to use me! She avoided me for the rest of the semester. Not cool, lady. She judged me as less simply because I revealed to her I was autistic. I wonder what she would have said were I in a wheelchair?

Then, there was another incident in which I was judged as being “less.” At the Autism Society of the Bluegrass, they were discussing their autistic kids, and I wanted to join in and give them some insight, and, dare I say it, some hope that their kids would turn out fine if given the right tools. They asked me, “How old is your kid?” I simply told them, “I AM the kid.” They seemed shocked and dismayed. Here is my question for the ASB” Why don’t you unclude autistic adults in your conversations about your children? Do you want your children to be ignored and discounted the same way? Because that is what you are telling the world to do. It’s as if you’re literally saying, “Ignore my moronic child. They are not worth talking to about their own lives.” I am still on their email list, but I am considering leaving the list altogether. I do not like to be discounted.

April Post 10: Meet the Angry Autistic Woman 

Looking over my behavior when I am alone, it disturbs me. I swear, I give obscene gestures to random people that are not there, and I am a constant simmering volcano of emotion. I don’t know where all this anger comes from. My mother does not know about this  I don’t like being an angry woman. I don’t like wanting to explode at people all the time. I don’t like having to relive every single day simmering at the edges, and literally stuffing down my emotions with anything I can find in order, like ice cream, to protect everyone else from my feelings.

But, when I look over all the injustice that I received as an autistic person, I get why I am so angry. The rage I feel inside when I see anything that reminds me of my childhood is unbearable at best. Tonight, I saw an episode of “The Goldbergs” which revolved around theater. I never really fit in anywhere in high school, not even theater. I even tried to spell it “theatre” in order to fit in. Then, as I learned later, I was made fun of behind my back for talking to myself. There is a post about that called “Facebook and the Mellaril Nightmare” if you want to read about it. Truth is, the only time I ever really felt accepted in school was on Grad Night. I guess everybody was trying to make a good last impression. Truth be told, I was finally relaxed and relieved that it was all ending.

I spent years trying to find love and acceptance, because I was always unacceptable. I was unacceptable in class, unacceptable with friends, unacceptable in theater (pretentious snobs!), unacceptable in church, even unacceptable in ASAN (for being too politically conservative). Honestly, I am currently an angry, bitter, lonely recluse, and that’s what everybody wants me to be. They only want me to go away. Is it any wonder I am an Angry Autistic Woman?