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20 November 2013 @ 08:56 am
Is Physical Illness More Relatable?  
My Facebook musing: It's interesting to me that the fundraisers I've seen for physical ailments seem to be much more successful than my little psychotherapy fundraiser. Is that because physical treatment is easier to fathom than the vague-seeming process of psychotherapy or a result of the stigma of mental illness (or both)? IDK, all I know is that right now I need therapy to stay alive as much as I need my heart medications. It is powerful, it is effective, and it is saving my life.

Facebook friend's response: I think it may be because with a physical ailment, there's this visible end in sight. You take the meds/get the surgery and you're better, in many cases, but with mental ailments you can't necessarily see that definite end. Because there isn't one. Mental health problems are much like many chronic invisible physical health problems. You can't see them, the person doesn't often looks sick and so for many it seems like if they'd just pull on their boots and get moving they'd be better already. It's not true, of course, but that's what they see.

My thinking out loud reply: Over the years I have had bouts of depression that a few to several months of therapy resolved and I went on, therapy free, for quite some time before I had another bout. And I have chronic physical conditions that require ongoing meds or treatments for the rest of my life. I suspect if I couldn't buy heart meds people could relate to that as an imminent threat to my life. Suicidal feelings are perhaps difficult to quantify. Is it a passing thought or an active plan, for example? Frankly I don't talk about it unless my lethality is reaching the danger zone, much less do a fundraiser for it.

When I am suicidal it doesn't last for months and months if I get treatment. I respond well to therapy if my therapist has even basic competency.

I suspect it's a combination of stigma and lack of knowledge relating to suicide and not knowing just what therapy is or what it does. Perhaps those who haven't had a good therapist also don't realize how effective good therapy can be. My current therapist is one of the best I've ever had.

I have participated as a donor in many online fundraisers, sometimes for people I didn't even know personally. I've seen them boosted repeatedly in my network of friends, so I know how they typically go. This one hasn't been boosted with the same frequency, spread as widely or talked about as passionately and it's fascinating to the cultural anthropologist in me.

I've seen people say that it's cruel to talk about feeling suicidal online because people can't do anything about it from far away. Well this is a tangible thing people can do, offer help with therapy expenses. Therapy saves lives, it really does. It's saved mine before and it's doing so now.

This week I'll be working on the prize packages to express my gratitude. I value my donors that much more because they are doing something most people can't relate to.
 
 
 
W. Lotuswlotusopenid on November 21st, 2013 04:39 am (UTC)
I don't understand why someone would think it is cruel to talk about suicide online. I think what they are really saying is, "You are making me uncomfortable, stop." To that I say it isn't about them.

Edited at 2013-11-21 04:39 am (UTC)
Mari Adkinsmariadkins on November 23rd, 2013 03:00 am (UTC)
mari concurs
Tapatitapati on November 23rd, 2013 11:22 pm (UTC)
I think it is related to that cultural myth that people who talk about suicidal feelings and thoughts are just being dramatic, trying to get attention, and not really serious. (Because, the thinking goes, if they were serious they'd just do it. Which belies the ambivalence most suicidal people feel, that ambivalence we were trained to work with on the hotline.)