Last night the world, or at least my tiny view of it from behind the laptop screen was talking about the 4 Goes Mad season, specifically Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions- hosted by the self-dubbed “poster girl for mental health” (or “poster girl for mental illness” according to her twitter bio), Ruby Wax.
I didn’t watch it, the TV is still broken and it’s still too difficult for me to contemplate having someone come into the house to fix it. I ‘watched’ Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions on twitter, the same way I have ‘watched’ TV for some time.
Obviously this show wasn’t going to represent me, I knew that. I also knew that as it championed celebrity mentalism which I have talked about before here, I probably wasn’t going to like it. I’d read a bit about the show, watched Ruby’s interview on BBC Breakfast, watched some coverage from the 4 goes mad launch night and read some comments from Ruby in an article in the Independent- I didn’t like any of them.
I have nothing personal against Ruby Wax, I don’t know her and generally I applaud anyone who tries to battle the stigma surrounding mental illness but as I’ve said before, I don’t think celebrities are the right people to do this. I could take umbrage with her investment in the medical model but I can’t really be bothered. I could point out that she’s no longer bipolar and none of you seemed to notice- but I can’t be bothered. I could point out that Ruby has never spent time in the hideous pit of shitness that is an NHS acute psychiatric ward- but I can’t be bothered. I could point out that Ruby has never had to wait months, maybe years for the correct treatment- but I can’t be bothered. I could point out that Ruby has never been unnecessarily over-medicated- but I can’t be bothered. I could point out that Ruby has never had to apply for a mortgage payment holiday (long since expired) from her bed on a psych ward- but I can’t be bothered. I could point out that despite ‘confessing’ to being mentally ill, Ruby still has a job, in fact- extra jobs- but I can’t be bothered.
So last night turned out, as expected to be a rage-fest for me, not pretty but I had every right to be angry. I was angry at the content of the show and could sit here for weeks picking through all the bits that pissed me off. I’m not going to; I can’t be bothered. Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions left me feeling more worthless, patronised and misunderstood than I have felt for a very long time.
What last night confirmed for me is a suspicion I’ve held for a while.
As I watched the reactions to Mad Confessions roll-in and watched some fellow mentalists and all the mental health organisations swooning over the ‘honesty’ and ‘bravery’ of the host and those featured, crowing about how this time, this time someone was really challenging stigma. This was it- she was going to be the one, Ruby Wax was our saviour. I felt an increasing distance from some members of my adopted community. It’s not just my rampant hatred of celebrity mentals that created this distance, it was more.
As I trawl around the madosphere reading blogs, tweets, articles, campaigns and press releases I’m frequently smacked in the face by
I don’t like the word recovery and as a concept in its broadly accepted form it is meaningless to me. I’m not going to recover, DID is for life, if you meet me in ten years time I will still have DID, sure I’m hoping that there’ll be a lot less disorder by then but I will still be several different people in one body. This makes me unacceptable to many of you. This makes me unacceptable to society and mental health organisations. I’m not alone, this is not a situation unique to those of us with DID- though that’s my drum and I will continue to bang it. There are many mental illnesses from which people will never recover to an acceptable degree; some of us will be mental forever. I’m not some petulant recovery refusnik and I’m not playing “my mental is worse than your mental” (though if you want to fight about it I’d give you a good run for your money) but I think I have found one of the reasons I may feel that difference I talked about in a previous post.
I’m not striving for recovery. On a good day I’m living, the rest of the time I exist, I just keep on keeping on. Yes I’m in therapy and yes I work hard but I work hard to achieve a level of communication and cooperation with those who share my mind, life and body, I’m not working hard to get rid of them. This is not because I have some sort on ‘investment in illness’ or a desire to stay ‘stuck in the sick role’ this is because I am accepting of my condition and what it means for me.
When I briefly and reluctantly accepted I was bipolar (I still never believed it) I was applauded, acceptance is a big deal in mental health- after all it’s the first step to recovery. Now that I have fully accepted I have DID and also fully accepted that I’m not going to recover in a way that looks like recovery to others, I’m shunned. I’m treated like I have decided that no matter what I’m going to stay determinedly mental- forever. I go against the grain, I talk freely and openly here and elsewhere about my experiences with mental illness but there is something distasteful for some of you that I talk about working with it and not working to get past it. I’m not waiting for my meds to reach the right level, I’m not practising mindfulness techniques, I’m not going back to work, I’m not finding new hobbies to ‘distract’. I just am.
I’m letting the side down by not joining the cult of recovery, I’m not shouting from the rooftops “I WILL BEAT THIS!” I’m not laying a virtual trail of M&Ms to try and coax other mentals into doing what I do, into joining me on a righteous path of recovery and return to normality. I tell it like it is, I tell my story.
I’m not writing myself off, far from it. I have the potential to be awesome and I know it- but I will be awesome and mental. But I know that for some, I have gone too mental, taken it too far.
I’m not sorry.