Friday, March 6, 2015

Mental Illness Isn't Funny

I think I've posted about this before but I'm posting about it again because I'm pissed.

I regularly come across things on Facebook, typically posted or shared by my friends on there (and I have about 60 friends on Facebook, I do not have a million friends that I don't even know; if I don't know them in "real life" they are people I've interacted with online, like in a Facebook group for people with service dogs), that are meant to be funny but are not because they are making fun of mental illness and/or people with  mental illness.  I am often surprised at the people that share these things and seem to find them funny.  Like one friend with a brother who is cognitively disabled.  Or another friend who is passionately outspoken about.  People I would have expected to be more sensitive.  People I would not have expected to laugh about mental illness.

Here is the latest example.  It went something like this.  Imagine you are in a mental hospital.  Use the first seven names on your friends list to fill in the blanks.  The first name is your roommate in the mental hospital.  The second name is the patient that is licking the windows.  The third name is the patient that is running around naked.  And so on.

For those of you that have never been in a mental hospital, I can assure you, they do not allow patients to run around naked.  I have been in quite a few mental hospitals and I have never seen a patient licking a window, either.

But this is supposed to be funny.  And it's just not.

What if, instead of a mental hospital, we made it an oncology ward?  The first person on your friend's list could be the person getting chemo in the bed next to you.  The second person on your friend's list could be the person waiting for a bone marrow transplant.  The third could be the person whose child just died of leukemia.  Oh, that's not funny?

Or, what if, instead of a mental hospital, we made it a black family reunion?  The first person could be the dope dealer that just got out of prison.  The second could be the mom with 12 kids who is on welfare.  Is that funny?

Of course those things wouldn't be funny.  But why do so many people, that would immediately recognize those things weren't funny, think it's funny to laugh at people with  mental illnesses?  Do people really not get how serious and painful and terrible mental illness can be?  Do people really not realize that people die from mental illness? 

I may have to start unfriending people.

I should add that one of the friends I mentioned earlier apologized when I called her on it.  Another did not.

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