I typically don’t pay much attention to pop culture or celebrity garbage, mostly because I don’t care about it; but my eye is usually caught when mental illness comes into play. I’m always interested in the way the public perceives the person’s behavior as they are exhibiting their instabilities. Charlie Sheen was a good example. I would have bet money he was screaming through a Bipolar manic cycle when he was coming unhinged and lost his contract for Two and a Half Men. Many folks argued it was cocaine, which is a valid point if not for the length of time it ran. You would have to do a ton of cocaine to maintain that kind of pace for that length of time.
Amanda Bynes was recently trending due to the actions of her mother, Lynn, who pursued a temporary conservatorship over Amanda and won. Now, her mother has taken her off all of the psych medications she had been on for the past 9 months or so because “she hasn’t had an episode since”. The mother now claims that Amanda does not have a serious mental illness, even though she was placed on an LPS Hold which requires doctors to show evidence of grave disability as the result of mental illness or chronic alcoholism.
The basis of this move- she’s not mentally ill, it was marijuana that did it to her. If you’ve ever smoked or associated with people who smoked pot- please use this time to get the laughter and disbelief out of your system. I’ll wait.
You good? Cool.
Not only is it a great example of ignorance of mental illness; it’s a great example of the 1980’s Public Service Announcement misinformation mentality about drugs.
Yes, certain drugs can have a negative affect on people with mental illness.
But I have to say that of the hundreds of times in my life that I’ve smoked pot, hung out with several people that smoked pot, and been a third party witness to pot-smoking shenanigans; nobody ever thought it was a good idea to set fire to a neighbor’s driveway with gasoline, strip off their pants because they were on fire, retrieve their now gasoline soaked Pomeranian, run to a liquor store to the backroom to wash it off in their sink, and have a melt down when confronted by the employees which resulted in an arrest.
That’s wayyyyy too much activity for someone who was supposedly under heavy influence of pot.
Some have posited that removing her from psych meds and claiming it was pot is a form of damage control. I don’t think her mother is stupid; just ignorant. I don’t think that her or her lawyers would be dumb enough to think you could “damage control” 4 years of drastic instability that even had Courtney Love of all people tweeting to her to “Get it together girl”. When Courtney Love acknowledges that you have a problem- you have a fucking problem.
And this long ass intro leads into the point of this post. What I’m seeing from her mother is something I see on a regular basis from the loved ones of folks with mental illness. It’s often just related from the mentally ill person rather than the third party.
It centers around that person’s inability to accept their own perceived “failures”. You take a mother who loves her daughter, has had pretty significant difficulties in her life over 30 years or so, but she loves her unconditionally and does everything she can to create a better life for her. Now, you reveal that the daughter has been hiding some pretty significant behaviors from her mother for a long time. Cutting, drinking too much to cope, drugs, reckless behavior, maybe even a suicide attempt or two. The daughter gets worse with age to the point where her quieter behavior suddenly starts getting much louder. Now she’s getting hauled in by the cops, setting fires, doing the insane shit that severely mentally ill people do.
What goes on in the mother’s mind? Some parents are able to adapt and help. Others can’t. They would “know” if their child was mentally ill. They did everything in their power to make sure that child was taken care of and had opportunities in their life; so they couldn’t possibly have a mental illness. Acknowledging that their child has a mental illness is a blow to them as a person because it’s easy to perceive it as them failing their child. How could someone you love miss something that important and major? Well; it’s pretty simple actually. It’s not like everyone is walking around with a PhD in psychology or anything.
And in Amanda’s case; she was successful. A multimillionaire and retired by 26, as she said. So in her mother’s mind; it couldn’t possibly be Amanda’s mental health that was exploding. No, it must have been the pot even though there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Mental illness doesn’t care about how wealthy you are. It’ll tear down a wealthy person just as easily as a poor person. But her mother is ignoring all of the evidence supporting mental illness and taking her off a medication cocktail that is commonly used for schizophrenia.
I’d give her less than six months to have another psychotic episode if she sticks to this course of action.
Pride has no place in this struggle. Whether you’re a supporter or mentally ill; pride is an enemy. We must all understand that we can fuck things up. Pride prevents apologies, it prevents acceptance, it prevents progress.
If I’m right about her mother’s mindset; her pride is undermining Amanda’s mental wellness. Is the daughter going to listen to her mother or her doctors? Many people would trust their mother more and wind up screwed for an even longer period of time. Who knows how long her mother’s decision is going to set back her mental wellness? It could be years. Or maybe Amanda will remember how much better she felt on the meds and get back on them soonish. Who knows?
If you are in a similar situation or were handed this article by someone; it’s not your fault or any kind of knock on you as a person if you missed a mental illness. Lots of people don’t understand or “get it”. It’s no flaw to have not understood what your loved one was going through.
What is a flaw is a refusal to acknowledge the evidence that supports it when it’s staring you in the face. That refusal can fuck your loved one over far into the future. The past is done. Help your loved one reach a better, saner future for themselves.
And regardless of the position you are in; educate yourself on the claims being made about the person in your life. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked to who are diagnosed Bipolar that couldn’t tell me what Bipolar Disorder is. How the hell are you supposed to help yourself or anyone else if you don’t understand what the claims are? It doesn’t matter if you’re the loved one or the mentally ill one; educate yourself!
I get asked constantly “what books do you recommend?” and my answer is always the same- “All of them.” Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Mental illness is an intensely personal experience. If you’re Bipolar, you can read a book about another Bipolar person that has no relation to how you experience the Disorder. Now you’re questioning if that’s actually the case when the next book may have struck home for you. Read everything you can get your hands on. That way you’ll have a much better idea of how to help your loved one or help yourself.
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