Healing From Trauma for the Sake of Others

Content/trigger warning: ableism (especially saneism and autmisia), abuse discussion, detailed description of DARVO, saneist slur (censored) used to make a point

So. Healing from trauma for the sake of others. I’m going to do something a little unusual for this entry: I’m going to start by talking about something that happened to me. It happened months ago and has been really weighing on my mind ever since. I have to get it off my chest.

I was on a Discord server for a music YouTuber for a long time. I was even a moderator. Until the day I was DARVO’d and bullied off of the server.It was mostly a good time there, but I noticed a lot of ableism. Autistic people were tolerated unless we were too socially awkward, in which case we were mocked in the mod chat (and I am pretty sure at least one of the other mods was also Autistic; just goes to show you how lateral autmisia sucks). Granted, some of the Autistic people who were eventually banned from the server did behave inappropriately, but the mods didn’t behave appropriately towards some of them either. Because autmisia.

I was a Good Autistic™, which enabled me to become a mod. I butted heads with the other mods frequently, especially one who I will call D and one who I will call U. U was frequently mean to people who behaved inappropriately on the server and sometimes to people who were just going about their business; U had experienced significant trauma and had cultivated a tough, badass attitude in order to cope. (I’m not speculating here; they basically said as much.) I frequently reported U to the server owner for their inappropriate behavior. U had no sense for healing for the sake of others either; once, they inboxed me to tell me to stop mentioning my trauma even though everything I said was spoliered and warned for appropriately. (But they could talk about their trauma all they wanted. Funny, that.)

I argued with D a lot, but the worst part/biggest red flag was when I got in a fight with him when he defended Awkwafina’s anti-Blackness and accused me of manipulative behavior when I argued with him.

So the day I got DARVO’d. What happened?Another server user (I will call her J) said something totally innocuous that was uncharitably interpreted by D and U. U bullied J off the server with D’s help. U’s bullying was extremely triggering for me to see because it reminded me of how my abuser used language (ostensibly asking a question, but actually making an accusation). I went into the mod chat against my better judgement–I was triggered and should have stepped away, but I wanted to do the right thing for J–and called out U (not D) for bullying. I said U’s behavior was triggering to me and that U had used language in a similar way to my abuser. However, I did specify that I didn’t think U meant it that way.

U and D went OFF. D said I was acting like his abuser and accused me of gaslighting and playing the victim. U trotted out their traumas–including shit that should have been trigger warned for but wasn’t–like that automatically made them right and me wrong. I kept trying to explain my perspective and U and D kept misinterpreting me and calling me abusive.

The term for when an abuser is called out and accuses the person calling them out of being the real abuser is DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. (Ironically, D also accused me of “calling [him] the real abuser” even though I said fuckall about his behavior; U had been way worse, so I only called them out.)

Another mod stepped in and accused me of making assumptions about U’s motivations even though, again, I had specifically said that I didn’t think U meant to bully J or trigger me. The dogpile was too much. I sent a note to the server owner and left the server permanently.

I later sent another note to the server owner explaining what had happened and detailing U’s and D’s abusive behavior toward me. (I didn’t use the words “abuse” or “DARVO,” but I did call it bullying.) I also apologized for the mess; it was partially my fault, as I should have gone directly to him, not the mod chat, since I knew U was an incorrigible bully, and I should have waited til I wasn’t triggered. I also admitted that I shouldn’t have said anything about how U had triggered me. I also said to the server owner that I hoped the whole thing hadn’t triggered his anxiety, which he had been open about. Instead of replying to me and telling me that D and U would be dealt with appropriately, the server owner ignored my message and blocked me on YouTube and Discord.

Why did this happen? Why was I treated this way by not only D and U, but the server owner?

My guess, for a while, was lateral saneism.

“But Amaranthe,” you might be saying, “your bullies had PTSD! The YouTuber had anxiety! How could they be saneist?”

Well, that’s why I said laterally saneist. Also, they had PTSD and anxiety; I was the only one who had CPTSD. I was the only one with alters. I was the only one with a personality disorder. And I was open about all of those things.

They were mentally ill; I was cr*zy.

See, as hard as I fought against ableism on that server, people who had been banned or people who (on or off the server) had exhibited abusive behavior were called saneist slurs and terms (especially ones targeting unreality and/or PDs) by…basically everyone but me in the mods only chat on a regular basis. There was an inextricable link between abusive behavior and severe mental illness in their minds. I’m pretty sure that that’s why I was the one who was ignored and blocked despite the fact that I was the one who was DARVO’d and bullied by the other mods.

Sucks.

But lateral saneism doesn’t explain everything, now, does it? Especially what U and D did. Why did U trot out their traumas like the fact that they were so traumatized was proof that they were right? Why did D accuse me of acting like his abuser?

They hadn’t healed sufficiently. Like I mentioned earlier, U had no sense of healing for the sake of others. They were still as raw as an open wound and had built their entire personality around protecting that wound. Part of that personality included lashing out at anyone who threatened their persona, or…well, even disagreed with them. Obviously not everyone who has unresolved trauma lashes out at people they perceive as threatening, but it can happen. I used to be like that too, until I started EMDR.

D, too, was quick to accuse me of acting like his abuser because he felt threatened that I called out his friend. I’m pretty sure that if he had confronted and processed his trauma, he wouldn’t have perceived me rightfully accusing his friend of bullying as threatening to him. When you’re highly traumatized, you’re very sensitive to threats, sometimes when they’re not there. (This is another thing I know from personal experience.)

And I’ve noticed that people with trauma who really need to heal for the sake of others are really…uh…well, I see this a lot online. It’s common to find Discord servers where you’re expected to spoiler and trigger warn for shit like the anime that someone’s toxic ex liked, and there are dozens of these obscure triggers that you’re expected to keep track of; that in and of itself can be an accessibility issue. I had to leave one server because literally any mention of mental illness had to be spoilered and warned for, which was de facto saneist. I mean, do these people who demand their obscure triggers be accommodated online go up to people in real life and say “Don’t use the words ‘at all’ at the end of a sentence, that’s triggering to me”? Probably not! I mean, the words “at all” at the end of a sentence used to be one of my actual fucking triggers until I worked through it in EMDR, and I didn’t ask people in real life or online to not do that, because that would have been fucking silly.

You can’t expect the entire world to conform to your trauma. The world isn’t responsible for that. Trigger warnings are critical, of course, and there may be shit that you may never get over, and it’s still a good idea to trigger warn for really common triggers like sexual abuse, murder, child abuse, etc. But if you have a shitload of obscure triggers like I did, you’re going to be fucking miserable and full of fear all your life if you don’t process your trauma in addition to imposing on people who aren’t responsible for the fact that the UK spelling of “behavior” is one of your triggers. (If you guessed that that also used to be one of my triggers, you’re right.)

So how do you heal for the sake of others (and yourself)?

EMDR was the ideal solution for me and I can’t recommend it enough. (I’m actually currently reprocessing the Discord DARVO with my therapist, funnily enough.) And if therapy isn’t accessible to you for whatever reason, learn meditation/deep breathing. Find coping mechanisms. Learn what self-care looks like for you. Take up a new hobby that doesn’t involve the Internet/media consumption so much, like cooking or knitting. Hell, Google “how to deal with PTSD triggers” and you might find some good information. (Note: there are “DIY EMDR” videos out there, and I don’t recommend those; EMDR needs to be handled by a trained professional.)

Just don’t fucking DARVO people because your own trauma makes it hard to handle being called out when you fucked up. Okay?

And with that…holy shit, this blog has been around for FIVE FUCKING YEARS. I can hardly believe it! Thank you so much to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Favorite Quotes About Mental Illness

Content/trigger warning: mention of addiction, reclaimed slur, discussion of ableism, disordered eating

Hello, dear readers! Sorry there were no entries in November; I was NaNoing. But I am back with an entry on my top 10 favorite quotes about mental illness. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory, so I’m going to go ahead and start.

10) “Mental health is something that we all need to talk about, and we need to take the stigma away from it. So let’s raise the awareness. Let’s let everybody know it’s OK to have a mental illness and addiction problem.” –Demi Lovato

Quick note: if you haven’t listened to any of Demi’s songs post-eating disorder recovery, I recommend you do so (especially “Confident”). Few things will fuck up your voice like an ED (I would know). They sound so much better now. I’m glad they’re in recovery.

Anyway, yeah, Demi Lovato knows their shit. They are multiply neurodivergent, including being bipolar and in recovery for cocaine addiction. I like how open and honest Demi is about their struggles and the work they’re trying to do to destigmatize mental illness, including addiction, which too often is not seen as a mental health issue. However, this quote is only number 10 because “destigmatizing mental illness” isn’t the whole picture. Mentally ill people will always suffer from saneism in an ableist society. We have to dismantle the ableist society before “destigmatizing” can actually happen. Still, good for Demi. I’m glad they’re out there frankly discussing addiction and other mental illnesses.

9) “You have good days and bad days, and depression’s something that…is always with you.” –Winona Ryder

Ooof. Accurate, Winona. Depression can be completely dormant one day and completely fuck up your next day. You have good days and bad days, but no matter how many good days in a row you have, you still have depression. (Note: that’s why it’s important for people who take antidepressants to not go off the antidepressants if you feel better; if you feel better, that means you need to keep taking them.) There’s not a lot to this quote, but it’s still accurate as hell, so it got on the list.

8) “I found that with depression, one of the most important things you can realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it, you’re not gonna be the last to go through it.” –Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Good for Dwayne Johnson for speaking out about depression. Society needs to allow men to talk about their feelings more, seriously…especially when those feelings are about mental illness. And I relate to this quote because the worst times of my life (mental illness-wise, anyway) happened when I felt like I was the only person who was putting up with so much bullshit from my brain. When I was finally diagnosed with depression in college, one of the reasons just having a diagnosis helped was my understanding that many people suffer from depression; it wasn’t just me going through hell. I think the simple fact that I knew I wasn’t alone helped a lot. Thanks for the reminder, The Rock.

7) “Healing takes time, and asking for help is a courageous step.” –Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay is talented (and gorgeous), founded the Joyful Heart Foundation to help sexual assault survivors, and became a trained rape crisis counselor. If only her biggest role weren’t on a mainstay of copaganda. Sigh.

All that aside, this is a very true quote. Seeking any kind of constructive help with a mental illness is way harder than mentally healthy people can ever comprehend. You see, if you don’t ask for help, it’s easy to pretend nothing is wrong. In order to ask for help, you have to realize you need help, and that takes a lot of soul-searching and a lot of courage. Asking for help is also a damn near mandatory step in healing from trauma or making strides to improve from any mental illness, and Mariska is also right that healing takes time. I’ve been working on my mental illnesses since 2009 and I still have work to do.

6) “Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can’t be happy and in a relationship. It also doesn’t mean that person makes the relationship toxic.” –Pete Davidson

Full disclosure, I wish that the main real-life representation we got for borderline personality disorder weren’t…y’know, Pete fucking Davidson, but this is still a very important quote, especially for people with PDs. There is such a thing as being too mentally ill to have the wherewithal for a romantic, sexual, or queerplatonic relationship–trust me, I’ve been that mentally ill, and I have been in a relationship with someone who was that mentally ill–but it is also certainly true that a person having a mental illness does not necessarily preclude them from being in a romantic, sexual, or queerplatonic relationship.

Even more important than the idea that someone having a mental illness doesn’t mean they can’t be in a relationship, though, is the idea that mentally ill people are NOT necessarily toxic to romantic, sexual, or queerplatonic partners. “Being a toxic asshole to your partner” is not a symptom of any mental illness. It’s possible for a mentally ill people to be a toxic asshole, of course, but they’re not a toxic asshole because they’re mentally ill. (They might try to explain their toxic assholery away by saying they’re mentally ill, but that’s bullshit.)

5) “There’s something freeing about realizing you have a mental health issue. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me! There’s just something wrong with me!’” –Jordan Raskopolous

Jordan Raskopolous is hilarious, isn’t she? For those of you who don’t know (and who don’t read my Rock, Roll, ‘n’ Stim blog), Jordan Raskopolous is an Australian comedian who is also the lead singer for the comedy band Axis of Awesome. She’s both funny and musically talented. She also gave a great TED talk from whence came this quote. She has an anxiety disorder and describes herself as getting “not stage fright, but life fright” [sic]. (See, I told you she was hilarious.) And she absolutely nailed why getting a diagnosis of a mental illness can be a huge relief. It makes you feel like there’s nothing wrong with you even though something technically is, because there’s a name, explanation, and (hopefully) treatment plan for what you’re experiencing now. Most importantly, now you can understand what’s going on, whereas before you were probably like “THE FUCK IS HAPPENING IN MY BRAIN.” Thanks for being pithy, accurate, and funny, Jordan!

4) “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” –Fred Rogers

I feel like this quote may not be explicitly about mental illness, but it does apply to mental illness. There’s currently a huge taboo around discussing the bullshit our mentally ill brains pull. Of course, working on that taboo alone is a Band-Aid solution to systemic neurotypicalism, but that doesn’t change the fact that we all need to get more comfortable talking about mental illness symptoms. This is partly because Mr. Rogers is right; voicing your feelings about mental illness can make them seem less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. For instance, when I’m catastrophizing, I need to bounce what I’m thinking off of someone so they can tell me “Yeah, that’s out of proportion.” Also, if neurotypicals get more used to hearing about mental illness symptoms (especially ones experienced by people with ~scary mental illnesses, as I discussed here https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/scary-mental-illnesses/), maybe they’ll get some practice not being saneist cockwaffles. I know, unlikely, but a woman can dream.

3) “Using mental illness as a punchline reinforces the idea that it is okay to treat people with mental illnesses or any mental disability with mockery or pity, instead of as real people who deserve respect for self-determination and bodily autonomy.” –Lydia X. Z. Brown

Absolutely critical quote from the legendary Lydia X. Z. Brown (if you don’t follow their blog or their Twitter, go change that after you finish reading this entry) about how using mental illness as a punchline in comedy is saneist. I’ve written about this (here: https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/im-triggered/) and Lydia managed to say something more eloquent and more precise than that entire entry in one sitting. This is a big part of why Lydia is a huge inspiration to me. I also don’t feel like this quote requires any more explanation. It’s just a very accurate truth bomb about ableism in comedy. Don’t make mentally ill people the butt of your unfunny jokes.

2) “When you are insane, you are busy being insane–all the time.” –Sylvia Plath

Here we have Sylvia Plath landing at number 2 with a painfully accurate statement. Being mentally ill is a full-time job. You spend way too much time dealing with your brain’s shit, going to doctor’s appointments, dealing with your brain’s shit, fighting with insurance companies (if you’re USian), dealing with your brain’s shit, and dealing with the fallout of your brain being shitty. Being mentally ill can be so all-consuming that you don’t have the fuel/spoons/wherewithal to do anything else besides being mentally ill.

Hell, sometimes your brain is the one convincing you that you can’t do anything but stay in bed. Even if you outwardly appear to be a Functioning Member of Society™ like me, you may still have to deal with–to use an example that applies to me–constant intrusive thoughts and the sheer exhaustion of having to try to focus at work while dealing with constant intrusive thoughts. Is it any wonder I’m totally wiped when I get home? When you are insane, you are busy being insane–all the time.

1) “One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls…At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” –Carrie Fisher

Could anyone besides Carrie land at number 1 on this list? I mean, this blog is called “This Is for You, Carrie.” Honestly, she has so many great quotes about mental illness that it was hard to pick just one. And yeah, this one is specifically about bipolar, but I feel like it can apply to pretty much any mental illness. If you’re mentally ill, you need stamina and courage, and you should be proud of yourself for living with that shit. Being mentally ill isn’t something to be ashamed of, so fuck the saneist stigma that says you should be ashamed.

Like I’ve said before, stigma is not its own discrete problem but a manifestation of systemic saneism, but Carrie is still right about stigma making no sense. Stigma makes no sense not only because mental illness does not make us immoral or wrong, but because you have to be a badass to put up with being mentally ill. They really should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication (if medication is right for you, of course).

And that’s the list! Thanks for reading! And thank you to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Ableism in Horror

Content/trigger warning: discussion of ableism, injury mention 

When I was in graduate school, I visited my then-girlfriend, who had recently graduated from the college where we met, around Halloween. She and her friends were extremely into LARPing, to the degree that she prioritized LARPing over spending time with me (which is a big part of why the relationship ended). One of Then-Girlfriend’s housemates was running a Halloween one-shot LARP. It was set in the housemate’s old high school, which had–I swear this is actually true–been used as a psychiatric institution before it was a high school. I thought, “Okay, these are people I trust; they’ll probably make it scary due to the horrific human rights abuses that occurred there, not because mentally ill people are scary, right?”

Nope.

I was wrong.

So let’s talk about ableism in horror.

I don’t game much (except for the fact that I used to play DnD, I was a hardcore WoW player for a long time, and I’d be playing Guild Wars 2 if I could get it to install on my shitty Chromebook), but when I was doing research for this entry, I found an entire fuckening Wikipedia article on video games that are set in psychiatric institutions. I didn’t have time to research each one, but I would be willing to bet that all of them have some element of saneism in them.

I am more familiar with movies, though, so let’s talk about ableism in horror movies. I’ve mentioned that I used to be a huge Phantom of the Opera fan, right? (That may have been in my Rock, Roll, ‘n’ Stim blog, come to think of it.) Well, I used to be a TOWERING phan. And in one of the many cases of ableism overlapping with disfiguremisia, the Phantom is portrayed as becoming evil because he was the victim of violent ableism and disfiguremisia. Somewhat understandable, true, but the kidnapping and stalking? Not so much. Another classic, the Friday the 13th franchise, plays the “disabled villain” trope straight as well; Jason Voorhees is developmentally disabled and has hydrocephalus. Nightmare on Elm Street, overlapping with disfiguremisia again, also plays the “disabled villain” trope straight; Freddy Krueger has disfiguring burns all over his body.

A particularly strange (and, if you think about it, egregious) example of ableism–specifically saneism–in a horror franchise is the Halloween series. The villain, Michael Myers, is repeatedly institutionalized in a psychiatric facility despite never being given a psych diagnosis. His doctor instead chooses to describe him as “pure evil.” So the best place for someone who is “pure evil” to be is an institution for people with psychiatric disabilities?

Excuse me? 

What are you trying to say here, John Carpenter, that evil is a mental illness!? I know a lot of people think that!

Another example of ableism in horror is found in Jacob’s Ladder. While not a horror “classic” per se, it was popular enough to get a 2019 remake, and seems to be pretty accessible to non-horror fans. It was also directed by Adrian Lyne, who is a pretty big name; he also directed Fatal Attraction, Flashdance, and Indecent Proposal. Now, I haven’t seen all of Jacob’s Ladder, but I have seen the disgustingly ableist hospital scene. It’s a sequence that is meant to be terrifying that includes a person banging their head against a door, an amputee, and a person in a straight jacket. The disabled people in the scene are meant to scare the audience by being visibly disabled. Not cool, Adrian Lyne.

It’s not just classic horror films that pull this shit, either. As someone with OSDD-1, don’t get me the fuck started on Split, which came out in 2016. The dissociative community on Twitter was in an uproar when that shit came out. For those who aren’t familiar, Split is about a man with DID whose alters kidnap three young women. This is fucked up because people with alters aren’t your g-ddamn boogeyman of the week; alters are almost never violent, and certainly don’t go around kidnapping conventionally attractive teenage girls. Yeah, fine, my alter Em can be a passive-aggressive asshole and my alter Valkyrja is always ready to fight in the face of ableism, but in reality, Valkyrja has never so much as hit someone.

Jacob’s Ladder was brought to my attention by my amazing wife, who watches way more horror than I do (with the exception of me introducing her to Get Out). She also told me about May, a film about a shy veterinary assistant who becomes a serial killer, which I wanted to discuss because it involves unusually bad representation of children. In one scene, there is a doll behind a pane of glass, which breaks. There are blind children in the scene who, wanting to feel the doll behind the glass, start feeling around in the glass and end up getting cut. The scene is remarkable in that it’s quite inaccurate to how Blind children would actually act in such a situation; they continue touching the glass and worsening their injuries after initially getting cut. Did…did the director think that Blind people don’t know how to react to pain? Anyway, it was weird.

I think that’s all I have for now. Happy Halloween!

Many thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Anti-Cluster B Saneism

Content/trigger warning: saneist slurs (censored), discussion of anti-cluster B saneism (as you might have guessed :P)

I’m browsing Facebook. I see a post in a group for writers who attended my alma mater; it’s a Medium piece that the writer is proud of. The Medium piece is about “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse syndrome.”

I’m on YouTube. I’m listening to a rock cover of a well-known pop song. The singer lambasts her ex for being “a g-ddamn s****path.”

I’m on songmeanings.net. I’m looking for the meaning of the lyrics of a punk song I like that sounds like it might be about a toxic relationship. One of the suggested meanings is that the singer suffered abuse at the hands of a borderline partner.

If you’re thinking I should just stay off the Internet, well, I probably do spend too much time watching cat rescue livestreams, but you’re missing the point. I’m talking about anti-cluster B saneism.

Cluster B personality disorders include borderline, histrionic, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders. (Note: I know more about BPD than the other 3 because I myself am borderline. Just to get my bias on the record.) All of these disorders are characterized by intense suffering, but most people–even some ND people–know them as ~scary mental illnesses that are untreatable, involve total lack of empathy, and cause people who have those illnesses to be abusers or worse.

So…whew. Lots to unpack here.

Let’s start with the “untreatable” myth. It’s true that medication is usually pretty ineffective at treating cluster B PDs (although borderlines like me often suffer from depression, and antidepressants can help with that). PDs are also lifelong illnesses because they’re ,well, personality disorders. However, there is a kind of therapy called DBT, or dialectical behavioral therapy, that can be effective at alleviating the suffering caused by cluster B PDs. If a cluster B person is prone to destructive behaviors due to their PD, DBT can also help with that. The core dialectic of DBT is “you are a person of great worth and you have to change.” (I once saw someone call this “victim-blaming.” I wonder what it’s like on their planet.) Some people with cluster B PDs do act in ways that should be changed due to their illness. DBT is effective at helping with those changes. (Note: I don’t believe for a damn second that PDs are the only illnesses that predispose people to behavior that needs changing. Just look at eating disorders, for example.)

Now on to the empathy…thing. I’ve talked about empathy here (https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2020/12/28/empathy/) and the lack of comprehension of what empathy actually is makes it hard to know what saneists actually mean when they say that people with cluster B disorders have no empathy. What it probably means to saneists is that people with cluster B disorders have no compassion or concept of human suffering. This is, of course, not what “empathy” even fucking means, but that’s not the key point here. The key point is that the idea that people with cluster B PDs have no compassion is totally false. Some cluster B people do have low or no empathy–and I do mean empathy, not compassion–and that’s okay. The ability to think or feel what somebody else is thinking or feeling is not required to be a moral person.

And now we get to my least favorite myth about people with cluster B disorders: that we’re all abusers or worse. Look, that’s just plain not true. As I’ve said before, no mental illness makes a person an abuser (although abusive people’s choice of shitty actions can be informed by a mental illness that they happen to have). So why are people with cluster B disorders considered automatically abusive? Sing along if you know the words: ABLEISM! 

Okay, specifically it’s saneism. But just look at the idea of “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse.” According to people who think that’s a thing, it consists of using language to manipulate, harm, and control people. This can take the form of gaslighting, lying, withholding, and/or emotional neglect. As you might have guessed, none of these actions are symptoms of NPD (or ASPD, which also gets blamed for “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse”). All of these things were also done to me by my abusive mother constantly, and she definitely does not have NPD or ASPD. I’ve talked more about how “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse” is not a thing here: https://thisisforyoucarrie.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/blaming-abuse-on-neurodivergence-and-why-not-to-do-that/, but in case you don’t feel like reading that whole thing and are thinking “Well, what do we call ‘n*rc*ss*st*c abuse,’ then?,” I suggest calling it “self-serving emotional abuse” or just “emotional abuse.” 

I also want to mention that it particularly pisses me off when other trauma survivors try to explain their abuse by claiming that their abuser had a cluster B PD, especially since cluster B PDs can be caused by–you guessed it–childhood trauma. Part of me gets it–you want to find an explanation for why you were treated like shit, especially any explanation besides “I deserved it”–but lateral ableism is never okay.

One more thing I wanted to mention briefly: anti-cluster B slurs. You’d honestly have to ask the NPD community when the use of “n*rc*ss*st*c” is considered a slur. I haven’t been able to find a consensus on when it is aside from when used in the phrase  “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse,” so I’m censoring it just to be safe. I also don’t know much about anti-HPD slurs (or HPD…I fail, sorry >.<), and there aren’t really any slurs specific to people with BPD, although the phrase “toxic borderline” can get fucked. What I do know is that “s****path” and “p****path” are both slurs used against people with ASPD, and they’re never appropriate to use. Okay, fine, some psych “experts” say that there’s a difference between one or both of those slurs and having ASPD. I don’t fucking care. They’re both slurs that imply that a mental illness makes a person a danger to society or others, and they’re never acceptable.

I think that’s all I have for now. I’m sorry I couldn’t say more about the PDs I don’t have, but I have to be really careful with what resources I can trust about cluster B PDs because of the hermeneutical injustice at play. If you’re interested in learning more about ASPD specifically, I can recommend the YouTuber Jessica Kent: https://www.youtube.com/c/JessicaKent  

Thank you to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!

Ableism in the Workplace

Content/trigger warning: discussion of ableism, ableist slurs (censored), cursing

Hello, dear readers! As I probably forgot to tell all of you, I’m working full time now as a medical editor. And if you have to sell your body, soul, and labor to a bastion of late-stage capitalism to survive–which you pretty much do have to do if you live in the United States–I’ve found a pretty good place to do that. My workplace has a group called DiversiTeam, founded and led by two women of color, aimed at increasing diversity, inclusion, and justice in our workplace. And one of the things I offered to do with DiversiTeam (along with checking our agency style guide for cissexist, heterosexist, and intersexist language) was a presentation on ableism in the workplace.

I work 50-hour weeks, so I’m not keen on doing too much other work outside of that, and since I’m already making this presentation, I thought I would do a blog entry on the same topic: ableism in the workplace. (Note: since this entry came originally from a presentation I’m writing for my workplace, which is an ad agency, this entry is going to be mostly geared toward offices. I could write an entirely different entry on ableism in laboratory environments and, knowing me, probably will at some point.)

I’m going to start with ableist barriers to entering a workplace. I know, not the same thing as ableism in the workplace, but it’s related. There are a couple of common barriers to workplace entry that I see, so I’m just going to list them:

  • Ability to lift 40 lbs
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time
  • Driver’s license
  • Inaccessible applications (such as ones that require you to type out your entire fucking resume even though they also are asking for your resume, what in the chicken-fried fuck whyyyyyyyy)

Note: I’m talking about jobs that have nothing to do with lifting, standing, etc, requiring these things. Obviously, if you’re going to do a job that involves driving, it makes sense to require a driver’s license.

Other ableist policies I see that exclude Disabled people from a workplace are:

  • Poor sick day policies
  • Disallowing working from home
  • Timing bathroom breaks or disallowing long bathroom breaks

I actually worked at a place that timed how long you took in the bathroom. Yes, really. And how long it took you to get up and get coffee or a snack. It was fucking ridiculous.

Other ways to make a workplace inaccessible include:

  • Not having accessible bathrooms, elevators, desks, or a cool-down room
  • Allowing people to wear scents or use scent diffusers
  • Clapping during meetings
  • Having only non-plastic straws available
  • Not having hypoallergenic food options at work parties

I’m going to explain a few of these. The not having accessible bathrooms, elevators, or desks is pretty obvious, but it may be less obvious why not having a cool-down room is inaccessible. There are many Disabled people with sensory issues or who could go into sensory overload, and workplaces can get very hectic and overstimulating, and it may not always be feasible to go hide in the bathroom when overstimulated. Also, an overstimulated person shouldn’t have to hide in the bathroom. There should be a space where they can go to cool down and get their bearings.

Next topic: scents. Scents can be migraine or allergy triggers. I love olfactory stimming, but I also support workplaces not allowing perfume, scented beauty products, or essential oil diffusers for accessibility reasons.

Straws. We’ve been here before.

Food. Lots of people have food allergies or illnesses that prevent them from eating certain ingredients. If you’re organizing a work function where there will be food, make sure you ask everyone’s food restrictions. And no, I’m not just talking about people on shitty fad diets. Celiac disease exists.

The rest of my presentation on casual ableism in the workplace is about ableist language, and I give an overview of ableist language in general and offer alternatives. You know, like I did here: https://thisisforyoucarrie.blog/2018/01/07/less-well-known-ableist-language/. Well, more like Autistic Hoya did here: https://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html.I will also say that one thing I’ve noticed about ableist language in the workplace is that saneist language is frequently used to describe how busy people are. “It’s a m*dhouse,” “I’m cr*zy busy,” etc. My coworkers also frequently use saneist terms and expressions to discuss their reactions to work, i.e., “that job gave me PTSD,” “I need a Xanax after this week,” “this client is driving me ins*ne,” etc.

I think that’s all I have for now. Many thanks to my wonderful Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Kael, Karina, Mackenzie, Rose, and Sean. Reminder that if you support me on Patreon, you get to see my blog entries early!

Mental Health and Social Justice Call-Outs

Content/trigger warning: emetophobia, discussion of saneism and neurotypicalism, homomisia mention, suicidality mention, self-harm mention

I’ve had a really hard few days. Carrie’s yahrzeit and the anniversary of her death by the Western calendar, for one, and also December 26th is a traumaversary for me. Apparently Christmas is also terrible for my PTSD as well, as I spent half the day being violently sick for psychosomatic reasons. So if this blog entry is a little subpar, it’s because I’m operating at like a 35%.

I recently saw a semi-prominent YouTuber claim that a particular group of people had no consideration for mental health or respect for people with mental illness because they…drum roll please…were upset at him for using homomisic slurs. On the surface, this is bullshit. If you look deeper, it is still bullshit. However, it is still worth talking about mental health and call-outs, because call-outs can be triggering.

But first, I want to say that trying to defend your own bigoted behavior with “I don’t know any better, I’m neurodivergent” is neurotypicalist. Yes, really. Saying that neurodivergence makes a person incapable of understanding morality and justice is a particularly scary type of neurotypicalism and it needs to be stopped, especially if it has been internalized.

The rest of this blog entry is going to be about two things: how to call someone out while minimizing the chance of triggering someone and how to respond if a callout triggers you. Let’s start with minimizing the chance of triggering someone. Here are a few things you can do when calling people out to ensure that you don’t trigger any potential health issues of theirs:

  1. Discuss the person’s actions or words instead of making statements about them as a person. I know, I know, we are all everything-ist because oppression is built into our society and we’re all in the process of unlearning. I know. I’m not being sarcastic, either; I know. But saying “what you said was [blank]ist” instead of “you’re [blank]ist” may keep a person’s douchebag brain from latching onto “they said I’m [blank]ist, that means I don’t deserve to exist/I should self-harm/etc.” And of course, stay away from ad hominem attacks, which are bad social justice praxis in general.
  2. Don’t dogpile. Dogpiling can feel like a personal attack or be overwhelming to abuse survivors. If one or two people have the call-out handled, let them handle it. Only get involved if the person being called out is responding by being a belligerent asshole.
  3. If the call-out is happening online, don’t continually post lots of messages without giving the person being called out a chance to respond. A flood of messages, even from only one person, might be too much to process for the person being called out or might feel like an attack.
  4. This one is really specific, but I’ve seen it. Don’t mock the shitty thing the other person said using the Spongebob meme mixed-case text. That meme is disfiguremisic and ableist against ID/DD/LD people.
  5. If you did trigger someone with your call-out, don’t mock them for the symptoms they’re showing, including accusing them of “crytyping”. You should have seen how shot my fine motor control was after someone complaining about bicyclists riding on the sidewalk accused me of not agreeing with basic human decency because I suggested that more bike lanes might help. My PTSD was having a fit and a half.
  6. This is more of an accessibility thing, but still relevant. Don’t use sarcasm, especially in a text-only medium. If the person you’re calling out can understand sarcasm, it might feel like an attack. If the person you’re calling out can’t understand sarcasm due to neurodivergence…well, shit.

However, sometimes call-outs are triggering no matter what. I dissociate when I get an email from my boss, no matter the contents of the email. It’s annoying, but it’s not my boss’ fault. So if you’re triggered by a social justice call-out, here’s what to do.

  1. TAKE A BREAK. Disengage. Walk away. Count to ten. If you’re triggered, your ability to respond constructively is probably limited. Go engage in self-care, or do whatever you need to do to calm down.
  2. Only go back to the call-out when you’re ready. Evaluate whether or not the call-out used any of the tactics in the previous list, in which case you can–respectfully–tell the person who called you out how to change their praxis in the future. Also, if you can’t go back to the call-out for the sake of your health, don’t.
  3. Whether or not the call-out used any of the tactics in the previous list, evaluate whether or not you did the thing you were called out for. Maybe you did. Maybe you fucked up. We all fuck up. Nobody is a perfect bastion of social justice.
  4. If you did indeed fuck up, acknowledge your fuck-up. (But if you’re tempted to self-flagellate and be like “oh I’m terrible, I am just the worst person, I feel so awful I’m going to go cut myself,” you’re either being deliberately emotionally manipulative or you’re still feeling symptoms. Walk away until you can respond constructively.) Make a real apology, which consists of acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an indication of doing better in the future.
  5. Try to take the call-out to heart. This can be hard because if a call-out was triggering, even measured, respectful discussion of whatever -ism you were called out about can become a trigger or be retraumatic, and you just don’t want to think about it. (This has actually happened to me a few times.) Do whatever you have to process what happened so you don’t end up with a new trigger. If you have a therapist, you may want to talk about it with them.

I think that’s all I have for now. Happy (Western calendar) New Year!

BAD ME I have not been listing my Patreon supporters at the end of blog entries. Many thanks to Ace, Emily, Hannah, Karina, and Sean! To be as cool as these people, visit Patreon.com/arzinzani to pledge. Even a dollar a month is massively helpful!

I Can’t Even Fucking Listen to Music

Content/trigger warning: cursing, slurs (censored), disordered eating mention

So I have a new job.

It’s actually great. Well, mostly great. I’m doing something I love and that I’m good at, the location is fantastic, and most of the people are nice. Unfortunately, there’s always food around the office, which TFED (The Fucking Eating Disorder) is not pleased with. But anyway, I was at my new job and needing an afternoon caffeine fix, so I headed to Dunkin for their $2-latte-after-2-PM promotion. (I’m weak for espresso and deals. I admit it.)The music was too loud in Dunkin, which was almost an accessibility issue for me, and I was struggling to tune it out while I waited for my latte. A pop song was playing. I don’t like pop, so there was nothing remarkable about the song to me, but it was so damn loud it bored into my head. A generic female pop voice was singing some laterally misogynist sounding crap about another woman, and I barely had time to be annoyed by that before the song called this other woman “sweet but ps*cho”.

I swear.

For those of you who don’t know, I also curate two YouTube series, one about asexuality and one about my special interest in rock music. So you’d think this is the part where I say “well, pop songs may have saneist slurs in the chorus, but you wouldn’t find that in rock, metal, or punk!” Yeah, I fucking wish. There is ableism out the ass in those genres. In metal, vidist expressions are extremely common, right up to and including Trivium having a song literally called “Blind Leading the Blind”. Punk music loves to use ableist slurs and terms to refer to oppressors and/or bigots, with even bands like Bad Cop/Bad Cop that are usually aware of intersecting oppressions dropping “l*natic” and “ins*ne”. Rock music in general uses ableist language like it’s going out of style; I could name you several rock songs that have “ps*cho” in the title.

And it gets worse. Punk music has a tendency to med shame in the name of going after “Big Pharma”. “OxyM*r*nic” (which also has an ableist slur against ID/DD/LD people in the title, would you look at that?) by NOFX and “Limiter” by Descendents (which is on an album called Hypercaffium Sp*zzinate WHY DO I LISTEN TO ANY PUNK MUSIC EVER AODSHUAASDOBASDAFFFF) come to mind. It’s not only punk music, either; Delain, a Dutch symphonic metal outfit and one of my favorite bands of all time, has a song called “Your Body Is a Battleground” that not only med shames, but implies that psychiatric disabilities aren’t real.

It’s not only the music itself, either. People who are into the rock scene, especially the reviewer sphere, also love their ableism. I recently watched a popular YouTube music reviewer I don’t ordinarily watch trash the Nostalgia Cockstain’s The Wall album, and the reviewer joked about losing his sanity and having a panic attack as the result of the badness of the album. Another YouTube music reviewer I like and respect and even support on Patreon is fond of calling 2edgy4u musicians “p*****paths” and “s****paths”. Pitchfork Media’s website contains album reviews that straight up use the fucking r-slur.

I’m not sure what the point of all this whining is. I guess everything I have discussed here is a good example of just how entrenched ableism is. Not just entrenched, either, but terrifyingly normalized. And the pervasiveness of ableism in punk is a good example of how even leftist spaces condone ableism.Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to Emilie Autumn, who writes about mental illness from the perspective of “wow, misogynableism sucks”.

May the 4th Be With You (2019); Acceptance vs. Awareness, Revisited

Content/trigger warning: abuse mention, cursing, slurs (censored)

Happy Star Wars Day!

Honestly, one of my favorite parts of Star Wars Day is that it’s in May, meaning that fucking April is over. (I should just call it Fucking April from now on. It’s no longer April. It’s Fucking April. Or Autism Hell Month.) Unfortunately, when I escaped domestic abuse back in January, I forgot to bring my glitter eye shadow with me. So I’m wearing a glittery shawl, glittery nail polish, glittery earrings, and eye shadow that has at least some glitter in it. And a shirt with Carrie Fisher’s signature on it.

Anyway, May. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, which…yeah, I’m not big on that name. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before–specifically in regards to autism–“awareness” is not the best concept to use in pro-ND activism. So I’m going to use this entry to talk a little about the terminology surrounding Mental Health Awareness Month and similar concepts related to pro-ND activism.

In my acceptance vs. awareness entry, I said the following:

Needless to say, I don’t like awareness campaigns. This makes me nervous when I see awareness campaigns for mental illnesses. “Awareness”, to me, will always have the connotation of “be aware, these people are Other”. It matters quite a bit, though, who runs the campaigns. Autism $peaks’ flavor of “bewareness” is motivated by allistics who hold an inherently bigoted view of Autistic people. Many mental illness awareness campaigns are actually run by people with the illness. That makes a huge difference. I would still prefer to see acceptance campaigns because I don’t like the connotation of “awareness”, but that might be me.

Yeah, I don’t think it’s just me. “Awareness” isn’t enough. Mentally healthy people are aware of psychotic disorders and they still use “psychotic” to describe violent assholes. Mentally healthy people are aware of cluster B disorders and still use “n*rc*ss*st”, “p****path”, and “s****path” to describe abusers. Mentally healthy people are aware of PTSD and they still use “triggered” to mean “offended”. Mentally healthy people are aware of depression and they still don’t know not to call the police for “wellness checks” when a loved one is suicidal.

We have awareness. What we need now is acceptance. This is necessary in part because acceptance requires understanding. I’ve seen the pattern so many times of mentally healthy people claiming they support their mentally ill loved ones but freaking out and being unsupportive and straight up saneist as soon as their loved ones start showing symptoms. Acceptance means knowing that being mentally ill means having certain traits and symptoms and not being a dickweed when a person shows those traits or symptoms.

Of course, this means that mentally healthy people need to be educated about how mental illness actually works. That, to me, is what “awareness” campaigns should actually be; not just saying “whatever percent of people have X diagnosis” but saying “X diagnosis means [symptoms A, B, and C]” and “X diagnosis does not mean [saneist stereotypes D, E, and F]”. I’m not so naive that I think that all mentally healthy people are going to learn from acceptance campaigns and stop being saneist as soon as they learn the truth about mental illness, but I do think that acceptance campaigns would be a good place to start.

As long as I’m yammering about terms, I don’t like the term “mental health advocate”. A lot of people call Carrie that, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Most “mental health advocates” are actually mentally ill people who talk about the absence of mental health. Being Autistic, I like the term “self-advocate”, which we in the Autie community often use–hell, there’s an entire big Autistic justice organization called the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network–and I think “self-advocate” would make more sense than simply “advocate”. “Mental health advocates” don’t advocate for mental health so much as they self-advocate for a particular kind of disability justice: psychiatric disability/mental illness justice. So “mental illness self-advocate” or “psychiatric disability self-advocate” make more sense to me, because those terms seem to actually mean “mentally ill person who self-advocates for justice for mentally ill people”. If “mental illness advocates” can’t self-advocate because aren’t actually mentally ill, then…well, they probably need to shut up and pass the mic. I also like the idea of “[psychiatric] disability activist” as a term if “self-advocate” seems too, well, self-centered and not focused enough on fighting for justice for the mentally ill community.

Continuing to yammer about terms, I also said this in my last acceptance vs. awareness entry:

Side note: “stigma” is really a manifestation of neurotypicalism. It’s a system of oppression, not just an unfortunate opinion. That’s important to keep in mind.

Still true. Because of this, I don’t like it when people talk about “destigmatizing mental illness” or “mental illness stigma” without mentioning the larger context. Just saying “stigma” isn’t enough because it doesn’t get at the root of the problem. I’d prefer that people say “mental illness stigma as a result of saneism”. Talking about stigma is fine–it totally exists and is a real problem–but the reason why stigma exists is that society is set up to oppress mentally ill people and privilege mentally healthy people. The big picture is always important in social justice. And this includes acknowledging intersecting axes of oppression as well; there are some denizens of Disabled Twitter who I really admire, especially @autistichoya, who often talk about how white supremacy supports ableism and that there is no dismantling ableism without dismantling white supremacy. I really hope to feature a guest blogger on that topic one day. Speaking of passing the mic.

That’s all I have for today. May the Fourth be with you. Wear #glitterforCarrie and fight for justice for mentally ill people in her honor.

Thanks to my only Patreon supporter, Karina! To become as cool as Karina, please consider supporting my work on Patreon: My Patreon.

Blaming Abuse on Neurodivergence (Is Ableist)

Content/trigger warning: discussion of abuse throughout, including a specific example of gaslighting, ableist slurs (censored)

A while back, I wrote an entry on how “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse” is not a thing. But to be honest, I have never been satisfied with that entry. I felt as though it did not get my point across. This may be because it was little more than a fleshed-out Twitter thread from back when I tried to do Twitter threads. (It turns out that my brain and conceptualizing complex ideas into 280-character–fragments are not friends.) I have deleted the entry, and am just going to reiterate the points that I feel I did at least a passable job making in that entry here:

  • Describing abuse with an adjective that applies to a neurodivergent condition implies that the neurodivergent condition caused the abuser to be abusive
  • Emotional abuse is real and traumatic, but it is ableist to refer to emotional abuse perpetrated by an abuser who felt that they had to tear down the victim in order to make themselves feel better as “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse”
    • You can just say “emotional abuse” instead, or “self-serving emotional abuse” if you want to be more specific
  • Some (but not all, as far as I have been able to determine) people with NPD consider “n*rc*ss*st” to be a slur when used pejoratively, including when it is used as part of the phrase “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse” (or, oh I don’t know, on a subreddit called “Raised by N*rc*ss*sts”)
  • I am extremely upset at other ND people, particularly others with abuse-related PTSD, engaging in the lateral saneism of calling what traumatized them “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse” or saying they have “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse syndrome”

However, what I feel like I did not adequately convey is that no neurodivergent condition causes a person to be abusive. I did mention that, but I feel like I didn’t elaborate on it enough. So I will use this entry to describe Mara’s Theory of Neurodivergent Conditions and Suckitude.

Unfortunately, it seems to be a sad truth that people of all populations are capable of sucking; no matter how many (or how few) marginalized groups a person belongs to, it is still possible for them to be disrespectful, toxic, etc. Anyone can have character flaws that cause them to suck. Sometimes, people who suck are neurodivergent. Since neurodivergence affects who a person is on a fundamental level, a sucky person’s neurodivergence may lead them to suck in a particular way. As such, sucky people who share a particular neurodivergent condition may show patterns in their suckitude. However, they do not suck because they are neurodivergent; they suck because they suck. Neurodivergence simply informs how they suck.

A corollary (is that the right word? I haven’t done advanced math since college) to Mara’s Theory of Neurodivergence and Suckitude is that if a neurodivergent person abuses someone, their neurodivergence may have informed what kind of abusive actions they took, but it did not make them abusive. My abuser, for instance, told me that I could not have depression because she had depression and she would have recognized it. If she hadn’t been depressed, she wouldn’t have said that, but she certainly would have said some other gaslighting bullshit. (In fact, she has, multiple times; my favorite is that I lied to all 20something of the psych professionals I have seen about having depression symptoms because I think being depressed is ~*~cool~*~.)

This is also why armchair diagnosing a sucky person is ableist. (I’ve discussed this before, especially in my entry about why I fucking hate it when people armchair diagnose Tr*mp, but I feel like reiterating it.) I mean, armchair diagnosis is de facto ableist—the primary purpose of a diagnosis is to help the person with the diagnosis understand what is happening with them and address it, and if a diagnosis does not serve that purpose, then fuck that—but armchair diagnosing a sucky person is ableist because it is based on the ableist and untrue idea that neurodivergence causes suckitude.

The tl;dr of this entry is that no neurodivergent condition causes a person to be abusive, which is why using a phrase that indicates that a particular neurodivergent condition (NPD, in the case of “n*rc*ss*st*c abuse”) causes abuse is ableist and wrong.

P.S. No, I’m not sure why I decided to name this entry in the style of an early aughts emo song. I’m not particularly good with titles.

How to Respond to High-Profile Suicides

Content/trigger warning: suicide, saneism

Ugh.

I don’t want to do this.

But I probably should while it’s topical, so here we go: shitty ways to respond to high-profile suicide and why they’re shitty. Oh, wait, one more thing; I have already covered the “coward’s way out” and “but they were rich and famous” crap here, so I’m not going to touch on those again.

  • Neurotypicals going “You’re not alone! Here is a link to a suicide hotline.” We know suicide hotlines exist. We also know that a hotline is an emergency measure that is not a substitute for long-term care and support. And my queer Autistic ass is not going to call a hotline when I’ll probably become nonverbal because I fucking can’t do phones and the hotline operator would have no idea how to handle my being queer and might even call it a mental illness. A lot of those hotlines aren’t accessible to Disabled people or LGBTQIAP+ people.
  • Neurotypicals encouraging people who are suicidal to “reach out”. In many ways, this is no better than “meditation and juice cleanses will cure your depression”. Depression can be a lying bastard. Many depressed people believe that if they reached out, no one would care or want to listen. Also, what is reaching out going to do if a person’s friends and family aren’t supportive? Maybe they don’t have anyone to reach out to. Maybe the only people they could reach out to would gaslight them about how they have no real problems. (This happened to me in high school.)
  • Neurotypicals going “This is proof that even money and fame don’t cure depression!” Well, yeah, I kind of get where you’re coming from, but…you’re neurotypical. Shut up.
  • Any other ways that neurotypicals who have never experienced suicidal ideation can act like they know what it’s like to experience it, or acting like they have more authority than actually mentally ill people on the subject. Looking at you, neurotypical psych professionals.
  • I hate to say this, but there are people who behave shittily in every group, and unfortunately, I have seen MI people acting like their experiences with depression are the only experiences with depression. This can take the form of “well, I have depression and I haven’t killed myself!”. Don’t get me wrong, that is an accomplishment, and the words of people who have actually been suicidal are the ones that matter the most in this conversation. But depression is a diverse illness. Your depression may not be everybody’s depression.
  • Medication-shaming. I can’t fucking believe I actually saw this, but I did. I even saw someone (who is ND!! What the fuck!?) sharing bogus pseudoscience that attempted to prove that antidepressants are of no help to people with suicidal ideation. I know so many people who are still alive thanks to antidepressants. Not to mention that while the pharmaceutical industry is ableist, violent, and capitalist, the fact that many MI people need our meds to function and/or fucking NOT DIE remains unchanged. It’s possible to criticize “Big Pharma” without medication-shaming people who are trying to take care of themselves.
  • On the other hand, “this is why you get medication and therapy!” isn’t appropriate either, because medication and therapy aren’t right for everyone. Some people have contraindications to medication. Some people can’t find therapists who are qualified to deal with their issues or who don’t suck. Don’t presume you know what’s right for someone who isn’t you.
  • NOT USING TRIGGER WARNINGS. FOR FUCK’S SAKE, PEOPLE. I don’t care if you’re ND or NT; suicide is one of the most potentially triggering subjects out there.

“So, Mara,” you may be asking, “how do I respond to high-profile suicides without sucking?” Well, I’ll tell you.

Be there for your friends and other loved ones. You can’t know which of the people in your life is hurting just by looking at them. Make sure everyone you care about knows that you would support them if they had a mental health issue. Be there when things are good, because otherwise, no one will know to reach out to you when things are bad.

Also, be prepared to say more than “that’s rough, buddy” (unless you’re making an Avatar: The Last Airbender reference). You know your friend; figure out what they want to hear that will help them understand that you care and that they matter to you. It’s also totally fine to ask people what kind of emotional support they need when they’re struggling, or how they prefer to be asked (or not asked) when they need to talk. And don’t panic or freak out when your mentally ill loved one has symptoms, even “scary” ones other than suicidal ideation. Unreality, hypersexuality, dual diagnosis, impulsiveness, the works; don’t be that person who is supportive of a mentally ill friend until they show symptoms.

You don’t have to plaster performative allyship all over your social media feeds. You can share suicide hotlines, but make sure you share ones that are for LGBTQIAP+ people and are as disability accessible as possible. You can also donate to charities that provide those services, such as The Trevor Project.

Okay, I think that’s about all I have for now. This is not an easy subject for me to talk about.