Friday, 27 September 2013

Cyclic Dysthymia

Today on Twitter, The Fementalists and Everyday Sexism teamed up for a tweet-in about the interactions of sexism and mental health stigma. There are some horror stories coming out of it, which I'm so glad people have the opportunity to share. There was at least one that caught my eye though as an example of how NOT to be.

The Fementalists retweeted a tweet basically saying that Cyclic Dysthymia ins't a thing - that it's a pathologization of PMS. This is really shitty and disableist thing to say.
Dysthymia is depression. Depression related to hormones and menstruation is a thing. That's all Cyclic Dysthymia is, and being told by a person who doesn't suffer from it that this illness isn't real is beyond invisibalising and dangerous.

The fact that I know multiple people who before/during their periods are basically unable to function - from pain and depression - and that none of them have been diagnosed with Cyclic Dysthymia is the REAL interaction of sexism and disableism here.

(TW for discussion of suicide/self-harm in the next paragraph)
The fact that people are dramatically more likely to commit suicide before or during menstruation but no one seems to know this is an interaction of sexism and mental health stigma. Ditto for self-harm.

That this isn't widely known by health professionals or people at risk is an interaction of sexism and disableism.

You want to hear some more examples of interactions between sexism and disablism? Because I know plenty - from inside and out.

  • How about the fact that nearly half of women diagnosed as bipolar actually have PTSD?
  • How about the fact that men who attempt suicide are about four times more likely to receive immediate in-patient treatment than women?
  • How about the fact that scientists have spent years looking for autism on the Y Chromosome because 'women are never autistic', only to realise that actually women are autistic at roughly the same rate as men - they're simply socialised more not to show it.
  • How about the fact that we routinely police pro-ana websites, forums and content, while similar 'indulging mental illness' forums for men are never subject to the same scrutiny?
  • How about the fact that it's 2013 and there are still people - mental health advocates! Blogs describing sexism! - who describe menstruation-related depression as 'not a thing'?

Gusty Flawless

Edited to add: The Fementalists apoligized for endorsing this, agreeing that it is not OK to dismiss other peoples' experiences. (Of course they do, because they are excellent.) I understand their thought process of PMS ≠ mental illness, but that the original comment was just plain wrong.

The wanker who made the original 'cyclic dysthymia isn't a thing' comment then went on to say that personality disorders aren't a thing, at which point I told them to go fuck themselves with a chainsaw. They went on to call me another disableist slur. My only regret is that I didn't include the word 'rusty'.