Stigma vs. Comedy
Ignorance or comedy?
Sometimes I turn on a show that is famous for getting laughs and I admit, I laugh too, but what happens when they make jokes about mental health?
I sometimes wonder if it’s just for comedic purposes or if it’s still really the stigma and ignorance attached to mental health. I was watching a show the other night and the female character was teasing the male character about his past girlfriends. Random comments like their obsession about cats or makeup. One comment she made was, “Oh, the one with borderline personality disorder?”. I understand it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s just not. As someone with disorder, it makes me a bit uncomfortable when it’s poked fun at as if it’s something to make us to feel crazy or mentally incapable of being human.
Mental health isn’t a joke, but I understand the impulsion to make fun of it. It’s scary, strange and to anyone who doesn’t understand it, it’s easy to make a comment like that. The problem with this is that anyone struggling with a mental health illness may not see it as a funny sitcom joke meant to bring out a laugh.
I remember sitting in a hair dressers chair, getting my hair cut, making the small talk we do at the salon. She and I were chatting about high school, boyfriends and other light chatter when she told me about a customer she had. She mentioned the person overreacting about something and then she said ,”Oh my god, what was she, bipolar or something?”. I understood at that moment that she was most likely one of the “lucky ones”. One of the people who didn’t suffer from mental illness. I wasn’t offended because it’s just a fact of a lack of mental health education or ignorance on the subject. That’s just the world we live in and it may not change any time soon. I wish that more people took the time to educate themselves and understand that people really suffer, really struggle with mental illness and a bad mood or a bad day, for us, means a serious struggle to keep it together.
Grateful for My Illness?
In a sense, yes I am. Because of my mental illness, I am compassionate. I am kind. I feel that I have gained a better understanding when my checkout person is having a bad day. Maybe when my waitress is struggling or when someone doesn’t text me back. I don’t take these things personally or think they are bad people. Maybe they are really struggling to survive, to keep going a little longer and it’s not my place to judge them no matter what. Even if they don’t have a mental illness, everyone struggles through something. The mom who is running on no sleep, the college student who is overwhelmed with finals, the elderly person who just lost their spouse. Everyone struggles and having a mental illness has helped me understand that. While I can’t necessarily be glad I am struggling on a daily basis, I can say I am glad for the side effects that it’s given me to be able to understand better, tolerate better and love better.