Mental health, the internet, and conspiracy theorists

 

Last week Time to Change charity shared this blog post What not to say to someone with Bipolar Part 2 on their social media channels. It was great to be able to reach a wider audience and to find new readers. In my foolishness, I decided to go on facebook, and read the comments section. This was a massive mistake. Although the majority of commenters were supportive and agreed with what I was conveying, I came across one poster that was vehemently against the recognised science behind mental illnesses. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this one poster was spamming the comments section and making what I believe to be harmful statements. This is how it began:

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The poster was referring to medication, and how it doesn’t work. Intrigued, I looked up Kelly Brogan, a ‘holistic psychiatrist’, who believes that mental illnesses, (and cancer) can be cured through healthy diet and exercise alone. I felt that it was important to engage with this poster, and try to explain how medication is vital to many people living with bipolar disorder.

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After this calm, polite and factual response they went on the defensive, quoting a psychologist (who would have no training in medication or psychiatry), showing me a photo of a course they attended but not the information about the college or school, and swearing at me.

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I wanted to get to the facts and decided to ask where all the evidence for these claims were. Many people that are against psychiatric medication in the UK often cite opinions and ideas that originated in the US. I thought it was important to make it clear the stark differences between the UK and US health systems.

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After my questioning I was sent a barrage of photos of healthy meals and how eating this way would cure mental illnesses. It was also insinuated that myself and other people posting were not eating healthily otherwise we would be cured. The response below shows that the person is living in a fantasy land, comparing themselves to Martin Luther King or Gandhi. It seems they believe the majority of mental health sufferers are in the wrong and are being lied to.

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I found her responses to be incredibly rude, patronising and downright strange. Again, I asked to see some evidence that wasn’t anecdotal, but a serious, long term study. At this point, I was struggling to keep my cool, this whole conversation was making my blood boil.

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I still feel my responses were needed and respectful. What this woman was spreading was dangerous stigmatising of mental illnesses. This was the end of the conversation, as I received no response beyond this. Obviously she wasn’t able to back up her claims with hard evidence, which was my main point. As I said in my last comment, someone reading these comments could be in a serious crisis and in desperate need of support. Lecturing them about their eating habits and how medication they have been given is toxic could push them over the edge. All of us should live a balanced lifestyle with healthy eating and exercise at its core, but it does not cure bipolar, or other chronic, serious mental health issues. Medication as I’ve said previously, saves lives. The right balance and combination gives people a chance to live and thrive. As a community, people with mental health problems need to look out for one another. When we can, we need to stand up for those that do not have a voice, or are too unwell to see past such dangerous claims.

2 Comments

  1. Lance Johnson October 8, 2017 / 12:12 am

    Hi Katie, It looks like you’re going down an unproductive path of acknowledging a ‘haters’ comments and postings. Getting caught up in this probably isn’t your best path. Maybe consider your original approach of doing what you do well by giving personal examples to your audience and can be helped by your work, rather than focusing on the few that oppose your efforts. There will always be these haters. Trying to get them to consider your side is impossible. And your energy is best spent on your audience. You will help a greater population this way, rather than focusing on the few that disagree.

    I have bipolar 1 with psychotic features; primarily, like you, hearing voices all the time. I’m going to continue to read your blog. I really like that there is someone out there experiencing a similar experience that I can learn from and help me with my feeling of being alone in my situation.

    Thanks again for posting and being open about your experiences and knowledge.

    • Katie Conibear October 8, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I felt it was important to stand up for people like us that don’t have a voice. That may be futile, but hopefully someone will realise that those comments are meaningless and there are those that will support them when needed.

      Maybe I didn’t need to post this, but I felt obligated to. I know how hurtful it is to read such comments when you feel vulnerbale and fragile.

      Don’t worry, normal service will resume next week for world mental health day! I’m not going to change the way I blog and will continue to spread awareness of bipolar disorder 💜

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