JT Eberhard, my darlings. One of the bravest fucking human beings I know. Watch his Skepticon IV talk and read his post.
I’ve got nothing much to add to this. I wrote up a whole big post on it once and then never posted it, because honestly, my occasional tussles with depression are stubbed toes compared to what others go through. It may not always be like that. Bipolar disorder runs in my family right alongside the heart disease and cancer and Alzheimer’s. I’ve learned to watch the highs and lows with minute attention, because it’s off to the doctor the instant they cease to be within normal range. I refuse to go through what my mother did, descending into a hell we didn’t know enough to rescue her from until it was almost too late.
That’s the thing. Society doesn’t talk about this shit nearly enough. So when your loved one starts displaying the signs of a mental disorder, you have no idea what’s wrong or what to do. And there they are, crushing themselves with guilt, because it’s all in their heads.
My family and I know that’s true. It is all in your head – because that’s where you keep your brain, and your brain isn’t working properly. Just like diabetes is all in your pancreas, and heart disease is all in your heart, and ulcers are all in your stomach.
But too many people think that “all in your head” means you can think your way out of the situation. They’ve not been there. They don’t know how impossible it is to think your way out. You might as well try healing cancer or a broken leg with your thoughts: it’s just as effective.
And there are a lot of people making perfect the enemy of the good. Our treatments for mental illness aren’t yet perfect. The brain is complicated, and we’re just beginning to understand it. But an imperfect treatment is better than no treatment at all.
It takes a fuck of a lot of courage to come out as mentally ill. But here’s what I want: I want it to take no courage at all. I want a world in which people with a mental illness can bring it up as casually as someone with diabetes or epilepsy or any one of a billion other diseases can mention it. I want a world that won’t judge them as broken because of it. Don’t you ever believe that people with a mental disorder can’t lead full, productive, and amazing lives. Not with JT standing in front of you. Not with Greta Christina taking the world by storm. Not with my mother working her ass off taking care of my elderly grandfather and who knows how many strays. Not with so many people doing brilliant and beautiful things, who also happen to be one of the 1 in 4 who’ve got a few kinks in the gray matter.
I want a world in which there are effective, science-based treatments improving every day, and the means to access them, for everybody who needs them, with no barriers to said treatment.
I want a world in which everybody realizes that mental illness is just another neurological disorder, and no more the fault of the sufferer than aphasia or Parkinson’s is.
Skeptics, atheists, humanists: let’s make it so.