Monday, November 14, 2011

Mental Illness & "Two and a Half Men"

You know, I do enjoy watching Two and a Half Men but today's episode focused on Jon Cryer's character, Alan, having a bad dream while in the "stress clinic" or "looney bin" after being admitted to a mental health hospital after the death of Charlie Sheen's character. The use of the term "looney bin" grated at my nerves a bit. I am under no false pretense that the stigma associated with being an inpatient on a mental ward is not still prevalent in people's mind but I find such terminology distasteful. It's not only degrading to those, like myself, who have been a patient on psych wards but it's fueling the stigma associated with mental illness.

To further this negative view of mental illness, the failed suicide attempt by Alan I thought was a bit over the top. There must have been a different option than pushing the character to the point of attempting suicide, don't you think? I mean, really, times are rough for a lot of folk who are dealing with a lot of different issues and I just see this story line as being a bit morbid even though the attempt eventually failed. In the past 15 years that I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder I have attempted suicide multiple times. Thankfully it's been several years since I have attempted although I always have a plan deep in my head that I can pull up and utilize. I don't keep it (or the other 3 or so plans) in mind for posterity, it's just that I've attempted that plan(s) in the past and they are ingrained in my mind's eye. So why "glamorize" suicide on a sitcom?

Maybe I'm just being a bit oversensitive or overzealous in my assessment of the episode, but people need to be reminded that mental illness is just like any other disease. The only difference is that it is based in the brain and involves chemical imbalances rather than elsewhere in the body. Come on you makers of sitcoms, television shows in general and movies...try to approach mental illness with a little tact! Rather than minimize the effects of mental illness try to approach the subject with at least a little information that would provide even a sliver of education regarding the fact that people with mental illness are just that...PEOPLE.  We are just like the "normal" people out there (really, is there such a thing as being "normal" any more?) and we have emotions/feelings just like everyone else, sometimes we just don't have the capability of coping with stressors or may not have found the right combination of meds if we're on them. Don't propagate the stigma!!

No comments:

Post a Comment