With Robin Williams’ suicide, a lot of the Negress’ fellow mental patients came out of the brain chemistry closet to try their very best to help neurotypicals understand how bad things can get. A lot of folks on a lot of Facebook timelines offered solace and listening ears. Nice but…
On the physical illness front, people can be just as clueless. Herewith, a primer on how to deal.
1. If someone is depressed enough to be contemplating suicide, in all likelihood you will not be able to stop them. People are especially prone right after going on medication since they usually feel good enough to carry out things they only thought about when they were deeply depressed.
2. Fifteen percent of people with mental illnesses get no benefit from any kind of treatment.
3. Contrary to police procedurals, extravagantly violent variations on schizophrenia are rare.
4. Do not, under any circumstance, offer “alternative” therapies or suggestions from your holistic practitioner, your pal from Spin class or any other random you know. Say you discussed your struggles with maintaining a healthy weight with the Negress. If she recommended meth as a treatment based on the appearance of a neighbor who smelled like a chemical factory, would you go for it? Be advised, the Negress and her fellow chronics have heard just about everything. No thank you.
5. Often chronics are sick of being sick. That offer of a listening ear, while kind, is not necessarily in order. Sometimes the Negress wants to stop checking her blood sugar, go off the Depakote and eat things that will trigger the mother of all Crohn’s “breakthroughs.” You saying, ‘I hear you’ does not help under the circumstances.
6. As for brain chemistry, the Negress and her fellow bipolars are often riding the raw edge of disaster on a daily basis. Monitoring of moods is constant. Imagine not being able to trust any uptick in energy or joy.
7. If you’ve lost 60 pounds in three months, as the Negress did in the early days of her Crohn’s diagnosis, compliments are not in order.
8. Also, despite idiotic cartoon commercials for drugs to the contrary, depression is not like the cloud that followed Joe Btfsplk around. It can paralyze, stall the onset of adulthood if it goes undiagnosed and all sorts of things. it is not merely being sad and lying around the house in sweatpants.
9. You can live with being hypomanic, but you shouldn’t. The Negress has often wished she could summon hypomania when she has a deadline to meet. This is not to say there are advantages to having unusual brain wiring, but still…
10. Lastly, do your very best not to treat people differently once you learn that they are ill. Sometimes you can figure it out without being told. We chronics have enough to deal with without adding your puppy eyes or veiled questions to the equation.