So I had originally planned a different blog post for today, but after someone showed me the included image graphic and “study,” I decided it would be a better idea to post my thoughts on it instead. I feel it is an excellent example of non-information – or information that isn’t actually useful information – about mental illness on the internet.
First, you’ll need to take a look at this link on ‘What Patients Say Works for Bipolar Disorder’ (original is Bipolar Managed Best Without Drugs: 227 Patients Respond) that a recently diagnosed Bipolar person shared with me. Said person is looking for information on how to manage the Disorder and get it under control. Like many people, that person turned to the internet for information.
Second, the rest of this post will consist of my tirade about these posts.
1. Might as well start at the beginning. Click-bait title for the first, a misleading title for the second.
2. The domains they appear on. Blogs on .com websites are not viable resources. What are? Links from some news sites, acknowledged online journals, .gov, and .edu sites. How do I know this? Because as a marketer, I did a lot of writing for law blogs that would be reviewed by the owner of the blog (the lawyers) to ensure it would pass scrutiny, including if they were dragged before a legal board to explain anything presented in it. Some news websites, acknowledged online journals, .gov, and .edu sites are MOST LIKELY (not always) to be accepted as viable resources. Nothing else, INCLUDING several news websites.
3. The use of language in the articles. You’ll note that they use words like “study,” “research,” and “research findings.” The author also uses what are called “weasel words” that remove them from legal obligation. “These findings SEEM to suggest.” Any qualifier like that renders the argument invalid as an actual resource because it leaves a legal loophole to escape from. “Oh, we didn’t say it was the ONLY way or it was the truth, we just said it SEEMED that way. It’s not our fault our readers have poor comprehension.” No, that is not an insult to anyone that overlooked it. That is the argument that would be used if they were dragged before a court on their bullshit. In the same way that it is not libel or slander if I suggest that the creators of this “study” MAY POSSIBLY be manipulative shitheads. I am not asserting that as truth, I am only implying it.
4. I see a lot of insinuation style “professional speak”. What I don’t see is a “Dr.” anywhere. So where are the doctors associated with this “study” that was conducted? Well, let me just dig a little bit through the links and…
5. Oh, neat. It’s actually an aggregation of a RANDOM ONLINE QUIZ of what various respondents answered on the quiz. So it’s not actually a study or research at all. There’s no control or doctors. The original site posted a random quiz, pulled information from it, plotted it on a chart, and called it a “study.” I’m just going to launch into a bullet-point list here to expand this thought process…
– No verification if the respondents are actually Bipolar or suffer from any other mental illness that could have skewed results. Most Bipolar people I know have multiple mental illnesses.
– No control on what other substances the respondents are putting into their body. Other meds, drugs, alcohol, and shitloads of other things can affect one’s balance.
– No quality of life control. So “Bipolar Managed Best Without Drugs”, eh? How is the “study” defining success? How is the “study” defining a meaningful, productive quality of life? Does the person who wrote the text for the “study” even understand what the hell that means?
– No identification of specifics relating to the DIFFERENT TYPES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER. Oh hey – Type 1s, Type 2s, Cyclothemic, and NOS diagnoses don’t all present the same. Therefore, each and every single person with a different diagnosis, and every person within that diagnosis is going to require a UNIQUE approach to find THEIR OWN wellness. Why? Because your brain chemistry is complex and unique to you. One size CANNOT fit all in pushing towards wellness.
– No qualifiers or control on what said “treatment” or “management” is actually meant to manage. Let’s look at the most “positive” result for managing Bipolar Disorder, according to this “study.” Exercise. How many people are aware that too much exercise can throw a Bipolar person into an escalated cycle or make it worse? Theorycrafting here; I suspect it is similar to the Fight or Flight mechanism in that the body is tricking itself into an escalated cycle. There are physiological processes that overlap that essentially trick the brain into believing it is escalated, so it escalates. Or if the person already is escalated, they may decide to hit the gym for 4-8 hours to try and work off some energy, only succeeding in further destabilizing themselves. I’ve known three different Bipolar “health nuts” who have done this to themselves – one of which ended in a successful suicide.
Exercise is absolutely healthy and helpful. It can absolutely help reduce depression and make it more manageable. But what about for a Bipolar person that is mostly functional with a high-functioning baseline? Too much exercise could throw them into an escalated cycle, torpedo their stability, or aggravate other physical health problems.
6. The ONLY thing that this link is useful for is to grab a list of common ways people try to deal with the Disorder to SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSIONAL ABOUT. It speaks nothing to the viability of those treatments. It says nothing of the respondents, their quality of life, or other factors that could be contributing to instability. It does not quantify whether or not respondents actually took their medication as directed, as opposed to how they thought they should. It’s just a random list of information that lets the reader fill in whatever blanks they want for themselves.
Do you want to get well? Do you want to manage the Disorder? Go to your doctor, therapist, or relevant professional and talk to them. Communicate. Explore options. If you want to try “natural management” first, great. Do it with the help of a therapist or doctor, not with the help of the “original author” Alexandra Carmichael, who, by the way, is most likely a fictitious person that they post their information under so they can just “fire/disappear” that writer if anything splashes back on the website. Which is a standard operating procedure for blogs like this, which again, I know because I’ve worked alongside of the people who do this shit.
Bipolar Disorder is a serious, severe mental illness. The ONLY way you can know what will or won’t work for YOU is by trying things the way they are meant to be tried. And if it doesn’t work, you talk to your doctor and amend your approach. You know, so you have a knowledgeable ally involved if your brain is screaming into insanity.
Mental illness is a complex medical problem where you NEED a knowledgeable person involved in some way to pursue wellness; or at least to warn you when you’re about to do something stupid that could potentially kill you.
This tirade has been brought to you by Dennis, a random Bipolar man with zero credentials. You know, a fact that the “alleged” assclowns that created this “study” failed to publicly acknowledge themselves. Alleged shitheads.
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