** Just a note before we start: mental illness is a tough issue. And those suffering need compassion and loving support. If someone is incapable of making their own decisions, or truly not in control of their words or actions, in addition to needing the utmost love and support, they also need professional help. And clearly, this post is not referring to those people. The recoveries I am talking about tonight are the warriors who are aware and in control of their actions, and capable of deciding that they want to get better. I hope that you read this from the place of “fired up, tough love” that it was meant. My heart and prayers go out to all those suffering, in all stages of recovery.
I’m sure by now, that you have all heard about the horrendous things that Roseanne Barr tweeted out earlier this week.
In case you missed it, she spewed off some disgustingly racist remarks, attacking Obama’s former advisor, Valerie Jarrett. She tweeted, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj.” This is repugnantly racist, as Jarrett is an African American woman.
And since then, ABC has cancelled the show and done everything they can to sever ties and distance themselves from Barr, as they very well should. That remark was disgusting.
Also since then, Barr — in addition to apologizing — has blamed her tweet on Ambien, and additionally blamed a mental illness, (multiple personality disorder,) that she says she has received 16 years of psychiatric help to cure.
And whether or not she is actually suffering from mental illness, well…that is between she and her doctor.
But in the midst of the firestorm, there has been only one person I have seen come to somewhat of a defense for Barr: Jimmy Kimmel:
And this is where things get…muddy.
I have so many mixed feelings about this. Because on the one hand, Jimmy is absolutely right: a person suffering with mental illness does need and deserve compassion and patience, and access to resources. One hundred percent. But the fact is, mental illness does not make you racist.
And as someone who very much suffered from mental illness — hello, I almost died from anorexia — I can tell you full well the compassion I needed from my loved ones, who were pleading with me to just “eat a damn sandwich.” Of course, that’s not what they said, but that’s how society at large views anorexia. Come on, you vain waif, just get over yourself and eat something!” — As though it’s a choice.
But their compassion was exactly what I needed when I kept slipping up, or struggling with my treatment plan, or just plain hurting.
However, here’s the difference. — And this is assuming that Barr does, in fact, have multiple personality disorder, which for the sake of argument, we will take her word for.
When I was recovering from my anorexia, my loved ones and I did absolutely everything we could to set me up for success, and avoid creating temptations to fail.
My family created an environment for me to thrive: the fridge was stocked with my favorite nutrient-dense foods, and Ensure weight-gaining drinks. And when eating at home proved to be challenging for me, God bless him, my father took me to a different restaurant all over the city every night. We would go to different buffets so that I could try this and that in little bits, so that I could reintroduce myself to different foods, and fall in love with food again.
They supplied me with loose fitting clothes so that I wouldn’t feel bloated or triggered by my changing body. Took me to every doctor appointment.
And we took the triggering full length mirror out of my room.
And to this day, I don’t even own a scale!
But my family and myself worked together to create the absolute best situation for a successful recovery. And for that, I am forever grateful.
So my question is this: If Barr truly does have multiple personality disorder, why the hell does she have 2am access to a Twitter account?
Why would she put herself in an environment that has the potential to be detrimental for her condition?
When you are in recovery from an addiction, or are working through a mental illness, you have a responsibility to your recovery. Let me put that a different way: You have to be responsible for your own recovery.
There, I said it.
There’s no tiptoeing around it. If you really want to live a recovered life, it takes work. It takes fortitude. It takes sacrifice. And you know what, it sometimes takes decisions that are not fun to make — like not having a Twitter account. That is not a fun decision to make, but if you know that you are susceptible to sometimes having MPD manic episodes, the last place you should have access to is a social media account — especially if you’re a visible public figure!
It would be like forcing an alcoholic to live in a brewery. Or a former anorexic to play a character with anorexia in a movie, and forcing her to get down to a dangerously low weight. (Oh wait, they already did that inTo The Bone).
There were so many things that I had to sacrifice for my recovery. Hell, I didn’t even walk in my high school graduation because I was trying to recover at an inpatient treatment facility across the country. That was a sacrifice. And a damn difficult one to make. But I did it. Because recovery isn’t fun, but you do what you have to do to protect your recovery and do everything in your power to set yourself up for success.
There is no excuse for her words. Racism is the most vile of all transgressions.
Roseanne Barr, don’t you dare simply blame your racism on a mental illness.
That takes a big old poop on all of the people who truly are working through their mental illness, and doing everything they can to facilitate their recovery.
Mental illnesses have enough stereotypes already. Just ask the girl who needed to “eat a sandwich.”
Don’t you dare add “racist” to the list.
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