anxiety is a gender identity now?

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Just a few months ago, I was writing about how I had unconsciously let my illness become my identity, and how damaging it was. Having had anxiety and depression throughout the ages whereby humans develop their identity, it got to the point whereby I was apprehensive about working towards recovery because I had no idea who I was without illness.

Imagine my horror when I chanced upon this screenshot on reddit one day.

This individual has let anxiety become an identity that is “only to be used by people with anxiety disorders” – essentially, identifying as Anxiety. Not only has that person built an identity around the illness, the person has essentially become the illness. This is most likely going to hinder the individual’s healing process, if it doesn’t just bring it to a complete halt.

Your identity isn’t something you work towards recovering from, but anxiety can be. Note that I’m not saying cure, but recover. It’s possible, but I highly doubt it is if you have deliberately fused yourself and anxiety together as such.

— Relevant reads —

Defintions related to sexual orientation and gender diversity in APA documents

Finding yourself: How a weak sense of self could contribute to a person’s depression

 

justifying the fear and exclusion of the mentally ill

c191z-buaaelhkaMy first reaction upon seeing this post last week was that yes, it is absolutely true, and I was rather peeved about it. However, after thinking about it for awhile, I wonder if people’s reaction to such symptoms are justified.

When those with mental illnesses are relatively “normal”and able to function (more or less), displaying only the more “passive” symptoms, people are usually fine around them. They treat them like just another person, knowing full well (s)he has a condition.

However, once other symptoms show themselves, be it panic attacks, breakdowns, psychotic episodes, or anything that seems to be getting out of hand, those people are left alone and avoided, because they are one of the Crazies now.

I wonder if we can really blame them for reacting as such. People’s fear of mental illness is, more often than not, attributed to the media and ignorance. Stigma of mental illness in television has been an issue addressed by researchers from as early as 1989 (maybe earlier). This issue of the twisted portrayal of mental illness in media has only been getting more rampant, which I shall not discuss in this post.

However, what just dawned upon me (yeah it took me awhile to think of this) is that these people may be protecting themselves. Granted, not all those who are mentally ill are dangerous. However, some really are, and people do not know who are dangerous and who aren’t. The same way not everyone on the Internet wants to murder/rob/stalk you, it makes good sense not to publish your house address online.

Should we, then, really blame people for avoiding and excluding the mentally ill when they’re only trying to protect themselves?

the romanticising of romance and illness

Gerry and Hillary of P.S: I Love You; Augustus and Hazel of The Fault in Our Stars; Jamie and Shane of A Walk to Remember. Beautiful, tear-jerking romance novels and films that I admit I enjoyed. However, I realise one thing – the love portrayed in such stories are extremely romanticised. Even in songs such as The Way She Feels by Between The Trees portray love to be something that can save you or magically cure all your hurts.

Looking through the Internet, it seems that youths have a warped perception of love and relationships. For instance, a good relationship to them is one that encounters no pitfalls. A good relationship has no arguments (or arguments that are resolved with a romantic gesture). When this doesn’t happen, the couple falls apart, leaving both parties hurt and damaged. What irks me the most, however, is the portrayal of love which miraculously saves you.

People end up waiting for someone to come along and rescue them, be it from family issues, depression, etc. The sense of responsibility over one’s own issues is gone, and is shoved to whoever says “I love you” or “I’m here for you”. What’s even worse is the romanticing of illness.

Youths are presented with more and more love stories that end with one individual saving his/her partner:

He leans down to comfort her
She is weeping and he
Wraps his arms around
And around and around and…
(…)
She opened her eyes
And found relief in his life
And put down her knives

-Between The Trees

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Yes, having someone there with you could make things better, but nobody can save you. You have to save yourself because nobody else can do it for you, even if they wanted to. The illusion of being rescued will not last. That said, you cannot save someone else. You can assist the person and prevent suicides and self-harm, but you can never magically fix the person.

Your partner is not a project. While recovery should not be neglected in a relationship, it shouldn’t be the end goal of the relationship either. The end goal is, well, a strong relationship and a life together.

Continue reading “the romanticising of romance and illness”

why suicide shouldn’t be criminalised

In conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this month, gender equality group Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) called for a repeal of Chapter 16, Section 309 of the penal code, which makes attempting suicide a seizable offence in Singapore.

Marian Govin, The New Paper

Suicide is becoming less and less of a taboo in Singapore. Yet, it is still greatly misunderstood. Today, it is still against the law to commit suicide. According to Aware’s report Distress is Not a Crime: Repeal Section 309, the police are required to arrest suspects, and it is mandatory for third parties to report attempts and intentions to the police. I read a few articles about Section 309. A lot of them talk about how it discourages people from seeking help, sometimes even encouraging them to attempt again with stronger determination. They miss out something else that Section 309 does – the effects it has on survivors.

Here is one of the effects:
Potential employees like to ask about run-ins with the law. If a survivor chooses to be honest and tells him/her about previous suicide attempt(s), there is a high chance that, during the job interview, the survivor is already being looked at through tinted glasses; there is already a giant sign above the survivor’s head that exclaims “DON’T HIRE THIS PERSON”. In essence, it lowers one’s chances of getting a job. Knowing that a failed attempt is a contributing factor to failing a job interview might bring about feelings of bitterness and regret. Not just regret over attempting suicide, but regret over failing to commit suicide.

This criminalisation of suicide does more harm than good. Granted, it acts as a deterrent for some people. For others, however, it acts a motivator. As for survivors, it forces them to live in the shadow of their suicide attempts. Continue reading “why suicide shouldn’t be criminalised”

when does it stop being “bad parenting” and becomes “bad person”?

This question haunted me about one and a half years ago.

I posted my then-boyfriend that question, and he told me that it would always be the parents’ fault. The answer was far from satisfactory, and it showed an extreme lack of responsibility, but I did not care enough to pursue the matter.

Today, I still do not have an exact answer to the question. A child’s upbringing will definitely influence his/her behaviour, motivated by values instilled into him/her. But when do you say somebody “did not know any better”, and when do you say somebody “should have known better”?

I have met people who, at 20, blame their parents for their bad habits and poor behaviour. But I have also met people who, by the time they hit 20, take full responsibility of their actions and refuse to attribute values and behaviour – whether good or bad – to upbringing, because they know better, and they know that they get to choose what kind of person they want to be.

Perhaps it could have something to do with locus of control. Perhaps it could be neurobiological. Perhaps it’s a person’s maturity level and emotional intelligence. Most likely, it’s all of these (and very likely more).

I’d like to hear as many thoughts on the matter as I can, so I suppose posting this here would be a good start.

he sings as he can finally fly: a poem

The bird was hatched upon a tree;
a bird with a broken wing unfixable.
All he wanted was to be free;
but for that he needed to fly.

He wanted to get higher up the tree,
but he knew that he was unfixable;
he knew he needed help to be free;
he knew he needed help to fly.

There was a weak branch on the tree;
a weakening branch that was unfixable.
The branch soon broke free,
and the bird, still alone, could not fly.

The bird fell from the tree;
his faith in friends now unfixable.
He knew now he’d never be free –
nobody would help him fly.

He watched his friends on the tree,
who had dismissed him as unfixable.
They left him; they wanted to be free.
They didn’t care that he couldn’t fly.

He stares at the empty tree now,
his shattered heart and bones unfixable.
Through Death’s mercy, he is now free.
So off, and off, he sings as he can finally fly.

working with caregivers alliance limited

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile now. As a person-in-recovery (PIR; a term I learned working with this organisation) working with Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL), I have learned many things.

A little background about CAL:
CAL is an organisation devoted to supporting caregivers of those with psychiatric conditions (we prefer to refer to them as brain disorders though). While it’s a rather new organisation, it has already reached out to hundreds in Singapore. Apart from providing lessons for caregivers, CAL also offers free counselling services and introduces caregivers to support groups.

A colleague of the boyfriend introduced said lessons to him. The caregiver-to-caregiver class (C2C) is, as its name implies, conducted by caregivers for caregivers. Well, it’s mostly conducted by caregivers. There are some PIR trainers as well. I got the opportunity to work with a fellow PIR when I first started working with CAL as a support leader for a class.

After the twelve sessions of C2C, the boyfriend and I attended two courses – one to be a Certified Care Support Specialist, and one to be a trainer. We have just finished our first class as volunteers, and I have to say that I have learned a lot from both the classes I’ve attended.

Here are some of them:

Continue reading “working with caregivers alliance limited”

gaming: the underused depression rehabilitation resource

The effects of gaming is often seen as negative, and gaming as an escape from issues such as depression and anxiety is deemed unhealthy. However, the tendency of individuals to use gaming as a coping mechanism can be used to rehabilitate instead of harm.

I wrote a one page article about it, which you can view in PDF, in the format it was supposed to be in (and with an image about rehab vs treatment), here. Get the updated version here.

Continue reading “gaming: the underused depression rehabilitation resource”