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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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things that piss me off #2813
delirium happy
Two things that annoy me no end are mental illness and bullying. That both are wretched and thoroughly unpleasant in almost all aspects is bad enough, but then to rub salt into the wound, the English language doesn't cover either of them very well.

Take mental illness. I believe that for most people, the phrase will bring to mind alzheimer's or schizophrenia, losing time or hearing voices. It doesn't bring to mind things like depression. And so, if I ever say that I suffer from mental illness, I always feel the need to clarify; I don't like to be misleading. But it's an almost impossible task to offer such a clarification without it coming across as apologetic. It always sounds like what I'm trying to say is "well, technically I guess you could describe this as mental illness, but it isn't really". It sounds as if I'm belittling my own problems. "Why no, those three years I spent bearly able to get out of bed, living in squalor and oftentimes going hungry because I couldn't even manage to go buy food were nothing really. scarcely even worth mentioning." Which, of course, is never my intention.

And I can't just say "depression" because then way too many people think that I mean "slightly glum from time to time" which is akin to describing Asia as "slightly bigger than Gibraltar" or liquid helium as "ever so slightly chilly". And I can't just list or explain symptoms, because that's veering far too far into the relams of too much information and the overly personal. As far as I'm able to figure out, there's just no way to talk about this sort of thing in polite society.

And then there's bullying. Exactly the same problem. The stereotypical image of bullying involves some sort of violence. If someone says "I was bullied at school" then the automatic assumption that most people make is that it involved some degree of violence. So how do you say that you were bullied verbally and emotionally? Again, it always sounds apologetic. It sounds like the whole comparison of suffering thing that some people do, which is never ever productive. It sounds like you're saying, "well yes, I did have people doing their best to make me feel small and insignificant, grinding down at me, day in and day out for seven years, but hey, at least none of them ever lifted a finger to me, so I should be thankful really". Which is bullshit.

And yet, no matter how little I mean to give that impression, that's always how it seems to come across. The English language just doesn't seem to have the words to eloquently express the concepts without ambiguity.

It all annoys the hell out of me.

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You might want to look at ozarque's journal: one of the things we've been discussing over there is the connection between physical and verbal abuse.

I think that the conversation which caused me to think about this was based, in part, on the other person involved having been reading that.

Ah, see, for me, when someone says "depression" I know that they might mean a wide array of depression, ranging from just sad for long periods of time to the kind of depression you talk about. However, if they say "clinical depression" or "deep depression" or "debilitating depression" or somehow qualify the depression as being more severe than the yuppie blues, then I know that we're talking about mental illness.

With the kind of bullying that's verbal and emotional rather than mental, why not just call it abuse, which is what it is? "I was emotionally abused by my classmates." People understand abuse to be long-term, and I think many people now understand that emotional abuse can be as threatening as physical abuse.

On the former, I think you're probably atypical, due to having had more exposure to -- well -- people like me. There are a good number of people out there who just don't "get" it, no matter how you qualify things.

For the latter, I'm not sure. I'll have to ponder on that one a bit.

When you say "bullying" my mind gives me both the physical and mental options. But when you say "mental illness" I'm not sure it offers me "depression" as an option.. It could be to do with personal experience, I've experienced the former first-hand, but not the latter.

When I hear mental illness, depression does come to mind, as does bipolar, ADHD, schizoprenia, PTSD, etc. That's also probably because of my exposure to all of the above. I think perhaps qualifying the depression as mortaine suggested would help you say what you mean. Debilitating, clinical, severe... those are all words that help convey ther seriousness of the depression, and most people understand that because of media exposure. When people say they are merely depressed, I think of it as a temporary thing - I'm depressed because I'm having a bad day, but it will be better tomorrow.

As for the bullying... I was emotionally and verbally bullied. People don't understand that though, because I was six feet tall in 6th grade, and they figured if anything I might have been a bully based on sheer physical mass. I was timid and shy. I was also easy to walk all over, and I didn't fight back. Even with all of the awareness advocates, that's one thing that still is not well-understood by the masses.

I suspect that the majority of people reading this will grok the concepts more deeply than J Random Person would...

Is it a problem of language, or proliferation of Clue?

Well, what would come to my mind isn't going to be representative. But I am in favor of not clarifying unless people ask. That way, in time, people may someday realize that when someone says FOO they may mean BAR type of FOO or BAZ type of foo. When people ask about my stick, I say, "I'm blind." I don't clarify that like most blind people I have some vision, but not enough to rely on. I just say, "I'm blind." If they ask followup questions, I inform them. Someday, more people will realize that blindness is a spectrum, but having some vision doesn't mean you can just ignore the massive lack of vision.

I run into the sort of problems you describe though whenever someone asks what health problem I have. I don't have a label. There is no simple term I can give. All I have is a list of symptoms... about 40 or 50 different symptoms. I often just say, I have an auto-immune disorder. We haven't proven that, but I almost certainly do, and it's much easier than trying to explain that I went blind and have crippling fatigue, but no clue if they're related and then there are the cognitive issues, oh and the breathing, oh and the...

I should just become a zen master and hit people with sticks.

Hit me with a stick, please!

For, uh, enlightenment purposes. Not sexual gratification. Just in case that was unclear. ;)

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