I had a lot more to say and was working away at writing out all these thoughts but then I realized I was getting too wordy and over-explaining, as is my wont.
Why I am deleting Taming the Polar Bears is pretty simple. To the best of my knowledge, nobody reading this blog has a real psychiatric disorder. Oh, I know, many people have or have been through “depression” but that's not a psychiatric disorder except in the case of major depressive disorder which is a permanent condition that does not apply to any of my readers. Yes, I know, many people's depression feels really bad but these are more chronically occurring episodes that, while they really suck, are not permanent and disabling. People tend to exaggerate their depressive states (not intentionally, but as part of the cognitive distortions and impaired insight that comes with depressive states or which cause “depressive” states) and it actually feels worse than it is. No, major depressive disorder is a debilitating condition (for many of the same reasons bipolar depression at its worse is). But anyway, I digress.
A real psychiatric disorder is certain (though not all) forms of schizophrenia and certain (though not all) forms of bipolar disorder. Disabling bipolar disorder boils down to severe mitochondrial dysfunction a condition in which the ability of one's cells and brain cells to create fundamental energy has been severely impaired. More on this later.
A real psychiatric disorder comes with real stigma. Not boo-hoo, nobody likes me “stigma” but real, actual overt prejudice and shunning from society. All kinds of people will drop you like a stone. Not because, like most people who end up feeling isolated and friendless because people tire of their tedious drama making (which is all it is), but because of wide spread public ignorance on “mental illness”, particularly as applied to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
People with these two disorders are among the most stigmatized, ostracized and shunned demographics on earth. The other two are the homeless and substance abusers.
I hit two out of three of those and most people assume that because I am homeless and have a mental illness that I must abuse drugs and substances as well. Until you live with this, you can have absolutely NO IDEA what it's like. I can tell you what it's like, I can explain it all but all you'll do is think “tsk-tsk, what a shame” and essentially it'll mean nothing to you.
I learned all of this this past summer during an excellent online lecture (AKA “webinar”) by one of the world's leading and most widely acknowledged experts on stigma, Dr Steven Hinshaw as well as from columns from Pulitzer Prize nominated and expert on mental health disorders Robert Whitaker.
And do you know what the funniest thing was? The more you try to educate people, the MORE they stigmatized and outcast those with mental illness. And worse, this just in: recent studies have shown that the more you educate mental health workers and doctors about the biological basis for mental health disorders, the LESS empathetic THEY became.
I wrestled with this for a long time. The whole point of all my research and writing was to educate, yet all research indicated that the more I did this, the worse I'd make it.
I coupled this with my knowledge of how people “think”.
People only think they “think”. This, it turns out is a fallacy. Now it's true people have thoughts – to the tune of about 70,000 a day – but this is not actually “thinking”. This is just the dialogue of the mind and neuroscience can show that the vast majority of this is merely post hoc rationalization which is a fancy way of saying that your “thoughts” are just ways of your mind justifying all the actions your subconscious brain directs “you” to do. You don't actually “think” about anything. What passes for “thought” is just per-programmed ways of dealing with whatever it is you have to deal with day to day in order to get through your life and post hoc dialogue that provides a sort of inner narrative.
Some – and only some – people are capable of actually thinking but this is a complicated bit of business involving higher conscious awareness (which only a miniscule number of people work to achieve) and higher forms of thought system training (IE: advanced forms of logic, critical thinking and reasoning, etc), again only worked on and practiced by a miniscule number of people.
Which basically amounts to most people being just biological robots that bounce their way through life in largely self-serving ways.
I had a long post in mind on what passes for “well meaning” and altruistic efforts and “compassion” but I'll save that for elsewhere. Briefly though, it turns out that most well meaning and altruistic efforts themselves are just self-serving and probably pretty thoughtless and thus not useful at all. But I'm not going to bother with that today.
The whole point here is that I face and must live with daily stigma and social outcasting that none of you can possibly fathom. None of you can fathom it because you don't have a psychiatric illness nor are homeless! (and even most people who ARE can't fathom it because they have little conscious awareness of it, they just know and experience that society and most “people” look at them with pretty much the same reaction as they would looking at dog shit on the street (brain scans can bear this out).
Look, I “sex up” and try to gloss over the fact that I'm homeless with my “Bean-mobile” stories and “living off the grid” angle, but the fact is that I'm homeless and that's how society sees me. They see me as a squatter or a transient, assume that I use and abuse drugs, that I must only be there because I'm a loser who's too lazy to get a job or that I'm weak and useless.
You can deny this all you want – and I can almost hear your brains churning away thoughts of denial - “that's not true!” or “you're just imagining that!” or “you're just being negative/that's just the illness talking!” - but guess what? That's just another form of stigma! (again, according to Hinshaw. This denial, it turns out, is the WORST form of stigma. Not only do we have to live with all this shitty stigma and outcasting from society, people – like you – even deny that that we have to live with this!).
I also live in poverty. Again, I sex it up as best I can but the fact is that I live in poverty.
After being outcast by my own “family” (ex-wife and daughter) just before Christmas, I just realized that I don't want to live like this. I mean I didn't want to before but it hit me on a much deeper level. For those of you who are assuming (assuming, my greatest pet peeve – see above for inability to think) that this is an “ex” issue, no, it's not. She and I got along great while I still had a home. As soon as I lost that and needed a place to stay occasionally, her attitude towards me turned to one of disgust and not wanting me around. Ditto with my “daughter” (whom I'll disown for now).
But I don't do boo-hoo. I know many of you assume I do (my favourite word again. People assume I get all boo-hoo because that's what they do. No, being boo-hoo is not an issue. Being boo-hoo is for luxury problems and “oh boo-hoo, nobody loves me” problems and shit like that. Unlike you people, I deal with REAL problems. But anyway).
So look, I don't want to live in poverty, homeless and with a mental illness. Actually, I literally can't live like this. Maybe some people can but not me.
So if I want to live (in the literal sense) and to live a life worth living, I have to start a new life.
And the fact is that I cannot do that with a mental illness designation like bipolar disorder.
The FACT is that you cannot, in today's society, live openly with a mental illness.
So I am going back in the closet. I will go forward keeping that a secret to myself and a VERY select number of people on a “need to know” basis.
So starting now, from yesterday actually, I will create a cover story and a whole new identity and narrative for my life.
And to do that, I have to destroy any public evidence that I am or ever have been mentally ill.
It's my only chance to get on, move forward and build a new life.
So down this blog must come. It must cease to exist. I'll also have to either delete my G+ account (and start over) and delete any reference to mental illness or experiences thereof from my Facebook page.
I'll start a new life meeting new people, none of whom will ever know any of this existed or happened.
And they'll be able to see me for who I am rather than the illness.
It is the only way to escape the stigma and all the mental anguish, pain, prejudice, stereotyping and denial of opportunity and the stripping of basic human dignity.