Tag Archives: stigma

Is Reality TV Crossing the Line?

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When I was taking psychology 101 in university  I used to joke that they should use me as a guest subject. Perhaps it’s my experience with a variety of disorders that draws me to one of my guilty pleasures: TLC reality TV. I “enjoy” watching shows like Extreme Cheapskates, Extreme Couponing, My Strange Addiction, My Crazy Obsession and Hoarding: Buried Alive.

When I watch these shows I switch back and forth between being sympathetic and hopeful to being disgusted and sad. I understand why these shows gather a following- if they have enough shock value to surprise me, I can’t imagine what someone who doesn’t understand anxiety disorders or mental illness is thinking. From a business perspective these shows are gold. They don’t cost a lot of produce and they gain a following easily. But, this got me thinking about the moral side of it. Half of me thinks these shows are good for mental illness, while the other half thinks they are hitting the ethical rock bottom.

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Sex, Love, and Disability

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We find that society is uncomfortable with disability and they’re also uncomfortable with sex… So when you tie the two together, nobody wants to go near it.

To be honest, I’d never really given the topic much thought; I try not to concern myself with other people’s sex lives. But, as I read through this article in the Toronto Star, I realized that I would have some assumptions if I took the time to think about it. The article looks at the relationship between Tim, a man with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and Natalie, an able bodied woman. The article was detailed and well written, but the thing that stood out the most for me was learning that Tim had been excluded from sex-ed classes in high school because it was assumed he didn’t need them.

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Suicide and Social Media

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When I heard about Robin Williams’ death my heart sank. Like so many others, I felt as though I had lost a piece of my childhood. It seemed tragic that a man who made so many people happy was so sad. But it also hit me in another way, a way that only someone who has been depressed can understand. I am well acquainted with the dark recesses of depression and the suicidal thoughts that litter one’s mind. Luckily, somehow, I managed to drag myself out of it, but I know that I could easily slide back in given the right circumstances.

My twitter feed was full of comments and hopes that Robin Williams had found peace. Somewhat surprisingly, I did not see the tweet that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent out that said “Genie, you’re free” until I came across this article.

When I was battling depression social media was only in it’s infancy. I didn’t have to worry as much about “copycat suicides” or romanticized accounts of  high-profile deaths. I didn’t even realize that this was a thing. Upon reflection I can see how these issues could be worrisome and that perhaps, suggesting that death is a positive end to suffering, might be problematic for those who are still suffering. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that these thoughts didn’t come to mind for me.

One thing that did raise my spirits despite the tragic circumstances: the number of positive messages. 10 years ago I mostly kept my depression to myself. Most people I knew thought depression was just being really sad, or that I could “cure” myself if I tried hard enough. The notion that it was a chemical disorder was not widely accepted and people who were depressed were considered weak. This past month I have seen some negative comments, but they are so tremendously outnumbered by comments from people who seem to be getting it. We have a long way to go, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel.