Does having a mental health disorder make you weak?
Back in June, a reader made a comment about one of my novels that left me wanting to rip that person to shreds.
Now, I should preface with stating that I take criticism pretty well. I have been destroyed. I have been demolished. And I have learned. I have grown a tough skin and I respect everyone’s decision to love or hate my stories, but what I cannot stand is someone having backwards ideals and having very strict, very narrow images of what a person should be like, of what makes a person ‘strong.’
What am I talking about?
This person commented that they didn’t like my main character (which a dozen other people have also stated. My main character wasn’t supposed to be likeable. Fine), but this person stated they didn’t like my main character because she wasn’t strong. Because my main character had anxiety attacks she is weak and this reader doesn’t like to read about weak women. And then they had the audacity to call themselves a feminist.
First off, feminism is about promoting women as they are. It is about embracing everything it means to be a woman – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful – and GUESS WHAT!! That includes having weak moments. (Which men are allowed too.) Masculinity is not just strength and femininity is not just weak. Feminism isn’t JUST about promoting female strength and equity. It’s also about promoting femininity, about sexuality, about EVERYTHING IT MEANS TO BE A WOMAN! Feminism is about allowing women to be WHOMEVER they want just as men are able to do. It’s about promoting the equity of humanity.
We are human.
We are compassionate.
We are strong.
We are fighters.
We are also fragile.
We are breakable.
We can be pushed beyond our limits,
and a lot of people have been pushed too far.
A LOT of people – men and women both – suffer from mental health disorders. And they are shamed for them. They are scoffed at and told their disorder isn’t real. They are rejected by friends and family. They have a hard time seeking help either because it doesn’t exist or because they are told not to, and it is because of the cruelty of society treating them this way that many of them end up taking their own lives.
The people who don’t take their own lives, those who manage to skirt that edge, spend their every waking moment fighting. You can’t see their struggles. You can’t hear the negative voices. You can’t even imagine the difficulties they go through – often because you don’t want to – but those people fight demons all the damn time and most people can never even fathom that.
Most people have no idea what it is like to struggle and to fight something inside one’s own head, to fight something for the rest of their lives because those mental health disorders that you sneer at never go away. They can be managed, but they do not vanish. They leave a scar. And that scar can be ripped open because of your insensitivity and your inability to be a decent fucking human being.
So for you to call those people WEAK is the dumbest, most ignorant, most privileged thing I have ever heard in my life.
And check out my discussion from last week: