Who speaks for us?





I’ve spoken at length that mental illness is the last bastion of mass prejudice. And in thinking about this, it suddenly occurred to me that I know of no-one who speaks in the media about mental illness who suffers from mental illness.

I exclude from this the Hollywood types who get air time – per my photo – but I remain ever so slightly cynical about them. I am talking about mental illness and not just Bipolar, but Bipolar is sort of trendy and acceptable, and whilst I would not dispute that some stars may suffer from it, the focus on them is more likely than not to do more harm than good; because a predictable reaction will be ‘well being Bipolar hasn’t done them much harm’, ergo what’s the big deal.

The fixation many have with Hollywood or other ‘clebs’ is that any association adds a sort of soft focus glamour that is at odds with the reality.

But strip away the occasional interview with such types, and it’s a safe bet that when mental illness is discussed in the media, it is usually with a photogenic psychiatrist or the head of some mental health body, but rarely if ever utilising someone who suffers from it. 

You would not expect a heterosexual to describe life as a homosexual, or a white person to discuss life as a black person, but invariably one will find experts abound on mental illness, but rarely do we here from a patient or whomever. Why? Well one reason might be fear – the irrational fear that someone  who is mentally ill might lose the plot on live TV. I’m guessing here but that must feature in the minds of some.  

Now let’s widen the argument to include airtime in general. The statistics are unanswerable and I’m not going to quote stuff, but trust me implicitly when I say there are more people suffering from mental illness than there are homosexuals, the physically disabled or ethnic minorities. But no-one can convince me that ‘we’ get the same airtime and publicity as these ‘minorities’. I am not saying they shouldn’t get it, quite the contrary, I’m just envious that’s all. There seem to be just as many pressure groups from what I can see, but we have not made remotely the same progress.

Well I for one intend to bang the drum until we rid ourselves of the Neanderthal attitudes and name calling most of us who suffer have to endure on a daily basis. 

The platitudes are never ending and it’s time for action.



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8 Responses to “Who speaks for us?”

  1. On April 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm Bipolar chimp responded with... #

    Hi Kit

    You hit it right on the “mental nut” where you talk about celebs and airtime grabbers as i call them. I can renember recently a prog on ch4 last year; you may recall a programme about mh and interviews for work. Can we tell the difference between the accepted norm,and someone with mh issues? Well i was asked to be on that programme,but for reasons of a pre booked hol, i could not make it. The thing is,it was the grilling before hand! It went like this…

    Ch4) yeah its on up in london 2wks time (producer pressures etc) can u come up?

    Me) well can u change the date ? )hols booked) + i need to make sure i know whats expected,what ur wanting;and i have an issue with social transport. Yadayada!

    Ch4) is it a problem then? If so we will get someone else.

    So i started to think.. I see they dont want the real person up at this event.

    So i am trying to say is that until media in particular can face the real issues,of the normal Joe;and fully support and mentor such peeps like you and me. Well it aint going anywhere buddy!

    In my work i am myself airs and graces too, i have 90% accepted my position in life (still working on the 10%) and i try to never judge. I mean who or what decided what the norm was to be?

    Still keep punching, i know i will!!


    Bipolar Chimp

    U know who i am Kit but its funny how i still dont want people to know my real name? Plenty work still to do then!

    • On April 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm admin responded with... #

      Hi there

      Spooky I was tapped up for the same show. Seemed shambolic. I was offered either Countdown or that Cook for your neighbours show. As it was they gave me about 10 days notice and being in Dubai it was a non starter. Did it get made?

      Cheers Kit

    • On August 10, 2013 at 11:38 pm carol smith responded with... #

      Patty Duke wrote a book years ago about her experiences with her manic depression or bipolar disorder. She called lithium her miracle pill and it really was a well-written book because she was so very open about everything. So, she really did something very courageous and so very helpful to someone like me who was wondering why in the heck am I doing wlat I am doing? Although I had my first psychotic break at 21 and just knew I was the Easter Bunny, didn’t need food or sleep and was given special permission by God himself to baptize anyone who wanted to be baptized in my apartment’s swimming pool, I was given the diagnosis “Euphoric Schizophrenic” and was hospitalized on two separate occasions. Mentally, I was about seven years old and this was in 1978. Carrie Fisher wrote her struggles with bipolar disorder in “Postcards from the Edge,” and it was so funny but true. Today, I don’t care about anybody else’s diagnosis because bipolar disorder seems to be something regarded as sheik and cool to have so everyone is bipolar. No. Not everyone and for those of us who really are, those few “stars” who share their sad bad experiences with this disorder almost make it sound like something everyone would want to be because of the creativity factor. Oh, that’s enough from me.

      • On August 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm carol smith responded with... #

        Oh, yes. I wasn’t diagnosed as manic depressive until after the birth of my daughter. I was 29 years old ashamed of being a “schizophrenic” of any kind and wondering why I wasn’t hearing any voices in my head. Now, I’m too old to be ashamed of my sometimes bizarre behavior. I have it and it’s not going away and I don’t “relapse” like a drug addict.

  2. On April 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm Christa responded with... #

    I am curious about your thoughts regarding Catherine Zeta-Jones and her bi-polar 2 diagnosis. As one of your readers & listeners on the radio, I would be interested to hear what you have to say.,0,6503151.story

    • On May 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm admin responded with... #

      Hi Christa
      Based on my ‘who speaks for us’ blog I guess I should shout halleluja but…..
      I am confused at what is said and of course one never really knows if what is quoted is accurate,but what confuses me is her protest saying she doesn’t want to be the poster girl for the illness. Why would you say that. Then why say you have it? And what the hell ( if true ) is just checking into hospital for maintenance?? Hmmm! I have no doubt that ‘Hollywood’ has taken Bipolar to its bosom with all types popping up with it, but rarely do they admit to it when at the top of their game if you know what I mean. Often it emerges when they’ve gone off radar and their star is not quite shiny. But Christa I’m an old curmudgeon so on balance maybe its a good thing! But………
      Thanks for writing – and I suspect you may agree with me???

  3. On August 10, 2013 at 11:51 pm carol smith responded with... #

    In Katherine Zeta-Jones’ case, my heart goes out to her because she is bipolar and she didn’t “come out” for any other reason than to explain her sometimes bizarre behavior. People who have this disorder truly are very courageous with “coming out.” Mental illness is still the most awful illness of them all because nothing much has changed for us and just which synapse is misfiring? What hormone is lacking? What if we are allergic to lithium? What if we get found out at work? What if the fear of my last psychotic break never leaves me even though everybody wants me to just forget it? That break was the most frightening thing I have ever had to live through and believe me, I didn’t want to have to live through it. So, I guess it’s a good thing if any person in the media comes out and perhaps does something for us. It can’t hurt unless a star claims to have it but doesn’t.

    • On August 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm admin responded with... #

      I agree 100% Carol yet like your last line I worry that it may owe something to PR than reality. Still not sure if ‘clebs’ coming helps or not. Makes it trendy and desirable which it AIN’T !!

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