I have two things to talk about regarding mental illness today.
1) That Kind of Girl
TKOG writes a really fabulous blog, Not That Kind of Girl, [blah blah], but recently I read a piece (or really, series of pieces) in her archives that really pissed me off.
In the first, she meets a guy and gives him her number. They make a date for drinks, but he canceled and they weren’t able to reschedule right away. Which, yes, sucks. What also sucks is casual ableism like this: “Really, there’s nothing lost here: I picked him up in a T station, like a crazy person, and we didn’t even know anything about each other, so, y’know, no big deal.” Which might not be so bad on its own, but these two posts lead up to the post where she talks about their actual date, and that post and the comments infuriated me.
The title of the post is TKOG Who Follows Through and Subsequently Goes On the Worst Date in the History of Friggin Ever. Why is it the worst date ever? Because he was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he tells her and talks about some of his experiences with it.
The exchange starts like this:
“As we walked to the bar, I launched into a funny story about Kiss-Ducker and I getting drunk in a combination Mexican restaurant slash tranny bar in San Jose.
“When we get together, we’re totally crazy,” I smiled.
“Wanna know a fun fact about me?” he asked. I nodded. “I’m totally crazy too.””
(Note also the transfail.)
If you read the whole post, yeah, the guy’s a little awkward (and he tries to order a pina colada in an Irish pub. Pina coladas are gross, but dude, to each his own), but as soon as she finds out he’s crazy, her language changes. When she talked about him before, he was fabulous and wonderful [insert quotes from first post]. Now that she knows, his attention means he has “crazy eye” worse than she’s ever seen.
They talk about meeting people on the T (which is something she talks about fairly frequently on her blog), and when he says it’s difficult because when you try, people think you’re crazy, she gets skeeved out that he tries to trick people into talking to him, EVEN THOUGH SHE DOES THE SAME DAMN THING WITH HER “LIVE EYES” TRICK.
In her closing paragraphs, she says this: “One thing is for certain: I’m not picking up any more guys in public until I somehow install a better pre-screening process for social dysfunction.”
Because being open about your mental illness is a social dysfunction, I’ll tell you what. /sarcasm
I’m not saying she had to fall in love with him. What I am saying is that she and her commentors didn’t need to be ableist assholes when discussing it. It takes a lot of bravery and strength to be open about having a mental illness, in large part because of this kind of ableist bullshit.