The Specimens Residing in Your Neighbourhood

 

Guess where I’ve always wanted to go? Paris? N.Y.C.? Guess again, because I’ve wanted to go to the Mütter Museum, in Philadelphia, ever since I watched American Horror Story’s Freak Show. You’re probably wondering what I find so intriguing about all these anatomical models and specimens, and truth is I don’t really find them that intriguing. In today’s day and age, you wouldn’t observe a body preserved in soap for over a century.  It’s a fun time solely because I get to talk about what I’ve witnessed. Museums and exhibits give us something to point and gawk at that you wouldn’t normally observe.

Although I’d love to visit Philly, that isn’t happening anytime soon, so if any of you guys are looking for something to gawk at and get intrigued by, well look no further: let’s all gawk and point some common misconceptions people have about mental illness! 

I am referring to your use of the word “depressed” synonymously with sadness. I’m referring to your “OCD” eating a bar of chocolate a particular way.  I’m referring to your thoughts of “killing yourself” upon getting a low grade.

Let's talk about Specimens A, B,C, and D: 

Specimen A, you are simply ignorant. Period. All you’re really saying by using these depressive disorder synonymously with sadness, a temporary emotional experience, is that you really don’t know what you’re talking about. You should be able to distinguish between the two terms. They aren’t interchangeable. Depression isn’t temporary the time period can vary and there are various classes. Or maybe actually read the DSM-V (a publication listing out diagnostic criteria for mental disorders). Don’t worry if you don’t have access, you can always borrow mine, or find one at your local library.

Specimen B, please don’t tell someone, who’s trusting you with their issues, to “talk to their therapist.” You are also ignorant. Due to of how highly prevalent stigma is surrounding getting help (I know it’s 2017), it is often difficult to “get help.” By choosing to confide in you, someone’s opening up to you and may already feel insecure. You are making them feel worse and telling them indirectly that you can’t deal with their problems. As their friend you’re being  a) horrible and b) part of the problem. You’re not getting “rewarded” for telling someone to get help. Please get off your high horse and realize that you need to transition your friend into getting help. It might take days, months or years.You need to be there for them and offer them a shoulder to cry on, ask them if they’re okay twice, just don’t be that uninvolved fake friend, because all you’re making them feel is completely isolated and like trash.

 

Specimen C, don’t be that ignorant person who brings religion or the power of positivity, sunshine, and everything nice into “curing” someone’s mental illness. Turning to a higher deity or smiling more often isn’t going to make mental illness “disappear.” What’s appalling is that this useless piece of advice actually comes from people who are pursuing postsecondary education and hold higher-rank positions, at hospitals, at work, or even at your university. This is so contradictory and ironic, because aren’t you supposed to be “educated”?

Specimen D, don’t tell people with an anxiety disorder to “relax” or to “calm down.” Great, I suddenly feel less anxious. FALSE. Your attitude’s humiliating and you’re not being “considerate.” Don’t try to “relate” because you’re “stressed.” Stress and Generalized Anxiety disorder are mutually exclusive events.  

The next time you witness a specimen similar to the ones I’ve talked about, on campus, at your local Starbucks, or wherever, be sure to educate them. If you’re just ignoring them and try to be “less problematic” again, you’re not helping. By harbouring these misconceptions and continuing to use offensive slurs you may be undermining someone’s chances of seeking help. So really don’t just gawk and point, actually do something to eradicate some of the stigma and misconceptions that prevail in your community. Because the only time you can gawk and point should be in a museum or at a similar venue. Be sure to check out the Mütter Museum and observe the diverse array of medical specimens though (not sponsored).