Three young men are becoming known for their “mental illnesses”. I have a problem with that script from the get go. Hey, were they known for their “mental” acumen and cognitive gymnastics, the situation would be different. You seldom hear about people becoming known for their zits, but I imagine it happens.
Rewriting the script on mental illness is a news story that recently appeared in the Record, a Canadian news source, about this film the three of them, all Simon Frazer University students, are making.
If you don’t like the stereotypical role you’ve been given, why not rewrite the script? That’s what three SFU students did by creating and broadcasting videos on YouTube, detailing their personal experiences with serious mental illnesses.
Whoa. Hold on right there. I think we have a language problem here already. We could be detailing people’s personal experiences with dragons or unicorns, too. Nobody has ever found one of those either.
Three lads, one with a pal known as schizophrenia, the other with these two pets referred to as depression and anxiety, and a third with this fellow called bipolar disorder Type 1 with severe mania. No, no stereotypes there whatsoever.
Here, for example, is bipolar dude.
Joe Roback, 24, is a psychology student with Type 1 bipolar disorder, with severe mania. He is president of SFU’s chess club, and he writes music as a creative outlet. For him, the hardest part of having a mental illness is the attached stigma and misunderstanding.
Alright. I’ve read studies showing that the brightest students in class (as well as the dumbest) are the ones most often labeled bipolar disorder sufferers. This guy is president of the chess club and a composer of music. No stereotypes there, surely.
“They really are just our personal stories and how we view stigma and how we view possible changes as far as stereotypes and negative attitudes around mental illness,” [Taylor] Kagel adds.
The trio describes some of the typical stereotypes of people with mental illnesses: lazy, homeless, unable to take care of themselves, untrustworthy, unreliable.
Really? I thought those were shiftless bums and tramps. Now you tell me they might be “people with mental illnesses”. Are you sure? If you are not sure, perhaps you have a “serious mental illness”, and you should be seeking “professional help”.
At one point one of the students starts talking about internalized stigma. He talks about having had to build a self-identity that incorporates his “illness”. I’m not sure playing up the “illness” card is such a great strategy for success, but who knows? Maybe it will work for him eventually.
Good luck with the chicks, guys. Also, good luck nurturing each of your respective “mental illnesses”. I hear they tend to be more faithful.