Before Friendship

It probably comes as a surprise to none of you reading this that my opinions earn me just as much ire as they do respect. For every feminist that stands at my side or ME sufferer that applauds the awareness I raise, there is another person willing to call me an over-sensitive wuss or accusing me of ignoring the struggles of men. Don’t be mistaken, this blog doesn’t get the traffic necessary for anonymous hate mail and when I do receive that, I can shrug it off as easy as anything. No, far more often, the people waiting to the sidelines to jump in with snide comments and putdowns are friends and family. My usual response is try to talk to them one to one to explain my point of view but if they’re gonna be pig-headed or, heaven forbid, insulting, that’s that and their name is quickly scratched from any Christmas card list I have going. I’ll never back down on my morals, I just can’t, morals define who we are, our codes are unique and we must not let others force us to against them or we lose ourselves. I won’t deny it can be disheartening but I won’t ever compromise on that aspect of myself. That said, here are some common arguments I want to lay to rest:

1. “That’s just your opinion”

I will not cut you out of my life for having a different opinion to me. I will not cut you out of my life for following a different religion or voting differently to me (Unless you support a party such as UKIP or Britain First). I understand my friends will have different opinions to me, I have friends who think minions are adorable, that Transformers are dull and that Dynasty Warriors is a braindead button-mashing experience but I don’t unfriend people over that. Opposing feminism isn’t having a different opinion to me, it’s an entire viewpoint away from mine, a whole different set of rules and values that just aren’t compatible with my own. Using feminism as an example, if you’re anti-feminist, then there a whole host of views that you may or may not fall in line with – victim blaming, slut shaming, the ‘place’ of women in society, friend-zoning, supporting such views is anti-feminism and opposing them? Pro. You might not wear the label but if you believe a woman shouldn’t deserve to be abused because of what she wears, that’s a feminist belief. Opinions are singular, you can look past those, what I am talking about is so much more than “That’s just what I think”, it’s “That’s what I deem to be morally correct”

2. “You’re refusing to hear what you don’t want to”

I think it’s fair to say that in this day and age of technology and viral videos and such, burying your head in the sand and ignoring the world around you is harder and harder to do unless you exclusively use the internet to do your Tesco food shop and watch porn and even then there’s probably going to be some crossover. We have the right to speak, the right to listen and the right to ignore, it’s a big deal with free speech. In all fairness, I’m not so much rejecting the viewpoint, I have to accept that such views exist and I am constantly aware of it, that’s why I do what I do, what I’m rejecting is the association of friendship between people like that and myself. I am AWARE of Donald Trump, that doesn’t mean if we met I’d have to have him added on Facebook to know that he is a racist orange gibbon.

3. “Refusing to talk to people with different views is cowardly and proof you can’t beat them in a debate”

This, I hear a lot, a sort of “If you don’t fight your case, you’ve lost” deal, like I’m on trial every time I put a link to a Laci Green vid in a status. I’ll start by saying that flat out refusing to talk to someone just because they’re right-wing or such isn’t how I start, that’s certainly a buffer I have up against new friends or partners, if a date makes a joke about Poland being full of cut-rate builders ruining the British economy by taking our jobs, I know I won’t need to bother asking her out on a second date. I do try and talk people around and I find, more often than not actually, it is not me that first resorts to personal attacks. Granted, in the past, I’ve had a tendency towards dismissing my opponents as imbeciles but more recently, it is often my critics that come forth with harsh barbs. A wide belief is the first to resort to such, is out of actual intelligent points to argue. I will try and talk someone around but if they’re being unpleasant or mocking me or such, I have no obligation to listen to the rest of what they might say

4. “What about Echo Chambers?”

Echo Chambers, for those who are unaware, are the idea of having a social media account that is loaded with nothing but people who agree with everything you say or do and as such, you become both big-headed and narrow-minded. I mean, if a hundred or so people are telling you on a near daily basis that you are very clever, attractive and morally righteous, surely it stands to reason you might one day believe all that to be fact? Well, aside from my hilariously out-of-hand anxiety having the power to keep any sort of ego of mine in check, not all my friends agree with me on everything I do and we are all capable of critical thinking. Dangerous as it is, I will always peruse the comment sections of news articles and videos, to see different views being expressed beneath. Largely, I’ll admit, it is people making vulgar remarks and such but there are a broad spectrum of opinions represented in these places, some fact-checked, some not, and I will take my time to mine the internet for comments actually worth reading. However, beyond that, on something like Facebook, can you blame people for wanting to be surrounded by people that like them a whole bunch and tell them nice things when we as a society are so readily prepared to pull one another apart? If you want an Echo Chamber, go ahead, you can always self-administer some doses of reality by watching the news or going outside, you don’t need a quota of dickheads on your Friends list to water down your self-confidence.

5. “You won’t win anyone around to your way of thinking by unfriending them”

Err… I’m sorry, when did that become my obligation? When did it become my job to try and win the hearts and minds of every person I meet? No, you see, the BLOG is where it’s my job to defend my viewpoints because that’s all this is, this is literally a website full of me saying shit I think and believe. My Facebook is just my day-to-day thought journal and means of contacting friends and sharing dumb photos I like because penguins are in it or it contains a pun or something. In my daily life, I have every right to just tell someone to piss off because Jacob Wolfe needs his space, Old Man Wolfe, on this site, is the guy doing the debating and lengthy arguments and such and if I need to illustrate my point, I can just tell Facebook friend “Go read this thing I wrote THEN talk to me”. I’ll defend my beliefs at any point in life, sure, but a highlight of the digital age is that if someone is an annoying wanker, you can click a button and they no longer exist in your radar, why would that not be a feature I would make use of?

Well, that’s that then, feel free to use these points in your own rebuttals when you have to explain to your parents why you blocked Aunt Carol on Facebook because she won’t stop sharing anti-vaccination posts on her profile. Your media, your choices, you don’t have any obligation to argue with people if you don’t want to and your beliefs are more than just opinions, they make you who you are and if people can’t accept them, they can’t accept you and that’s not on. Tolerance is all well and good but it’s a two-way street so don’t just put up with nonsense for the sake of being a good person, you have to let yourself break away from toxic influences. Just keep up to date on the world affairs and you won’t lose sight of reality behind rose-tinted glass (And hey, fuck reality once in awhile, take an evening a week or something or an hour of the day to just forget David Cameron is in power and go play a game or watch a film). Remember that you are no less for wanting to spend more time in the company of people like you and that it is a clever move to remove people from your life who will only cause you harm or upset. Okay? That’s all.

Really need a sign off phrase…

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Language Mentality

Trigger Warnings – Discussions of the mental health spectrum (OCD, Schizophrenia, Depression, Bipolarity) and one passing mention of suicide, discussion of bullying relating to mental health

Well the people have spoken, or rather clicked on links, and the site stats speak for themselves, you’re all pleased to see me back in action. I’m on my way to one hundred views in less than a week of activity and my works have reached seven different countries including India and Finland. To that I say thank you, I’ll keep up the hard work, keep sending in your support and keep reading

Anyway, that aside, I want to conclude this week of mental health awareness (Well, OCD awareness) with a little rant I’ve been meaning to get round to for a good while and that is the use of mental health terms as adjectives. I know that instantly some of you will relate or at least understand what I’m about to talk about, the use of depressed as a synonym for sad and such and today I’d like to talk about why this is a habit we now need to break as a collective so I’m going to call these out one by one and cut them down where they stand

1. Depressed

Slang Usage – “I’m so depressed!”, “Don’t be so depressing!”, “I’m feeling a bit depressed..” – Used to mean sad or unhappy

Actual Definition – Diagnosed with clinical depression

Words To Use Instead – Morose, Crestfallen, Down, Gloomy, Melancholy

You hear it all the time – someone has had a hard day, they’re tired and grumpy and they’re usually sulking in a corner when they come out with “I’m so depressed”. Ok, if you are depressed, that’s fairly accurate, as in you show the signs of depression. However, depression does not come about as the end result of a bad ┬áday at work, it is a condition that lasts much longer than a day or even a few weeks, it is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness or bitterness that can last for months or years. If you think you are suffering from depression, consult your GP. You may start to notice if you feel a constant low mood or lack of interest in your own life. Please don’t take depression lightly though, it is a serious issue that isn’t as simple as just being sad, there are chemical reasons for it (Lack of serotonin, links to hypothyroidism) and emotional reasons (Constant stress/grief/post-natal depression) but if you’re just feeling low, it’s more than likely just a rough patch in your life and may well pass soon enough

2. OCD

Slang Usage – “I’m so OCD, I always keep my pencils in line on the desk”, “He’s a bit OCD about his DVD collection”, “I wish I was OCD, I’d clean my room instead of letting it get into a mess” – Used to mean picky, organised or having an unusual quirk

Actual Definition – Diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Words To Use Instead – Organised, Fussy, Pristine, Quirky, Tidy

OCD, the subject of the week, is prone to a lot of misunderstandings due to constantly reinforced stereotypes. If you have to have things a certain way, you’re not OCD, you just like your own order – like any decent person does. OCD isn’t a disorder that means “The patient likes to be organised and is generally tidy”, no, the ‘cleaners’ out there fear the negative consequences of not doing these little thing, they clean surfaces to avoid getting germs that could infect their children but it doesn’t do them a favour. I cannot remember her name but a woman recently released a book about how she used to spend so long cleaning the house for her kids that she’d forget she’d have to actually, y’know, pick them up from school. I know your counterargument might be “But it bugs me when…” but that’s not OCD, OCD is “But it makes me sick with anxiety when…”, something bugging you is just your own desire for organisation or perfection. If you’re tidy and likes things in a certain way and get annoyed when that’s not the case, chances are, you’re a perfectionist or just generally quite a well-kept person. Good for you, just don’t write it off as OCD until disturbances to your order genuinely make you feel sick or panicky

3. Schizophrenic

Slang Usage – “The weather’s a bit schizophrenic, one moment sunshine and then it tips it down?”, “I thought you wanted me to stay? Make your mind up you schizoid!”, “The stock market is a bit schizophrenic with stocks rising and falling constantly” – Used to mean indecisive or unpredictable

Actual Definition – Diagnosed with schizophrenia

Words To Use Instead – Indecisive, Confused, Unpredictable, Tentative, Conflicting

Schizophrenia seems to be largely misunderstood as being a crazy person who talks to themselves and can’t make a clear decision but heck, if you diagnosed every indecisive person alive as schizophrenic then 80% of us are schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is seen as a dangerous and frightening thing to be by most people and yet strangely okay to make fun of. For the record, the stereotype is wrong, not all of them sit there playing good guy, bad guy with themselves, some harrow much more unsettling thoughts but some have it in remission or under control with medication and therapy and function within our society like the rest of us. You are not schizophrenic if you’re indecisive and someone who is unpredictable or irrational might just be stressed, confused or genuinely just a loose cannon. The use of this word in this way is very harsh and ignorant as it suggests all schizophrenics are essentially re-enacting Jekyll and Hyde in their head. Schizophrenic is not an adjective, end of discussion

4. Bipolar

Slang Usage – “I thought I was having a good day but I’m upset, so bipolar”, “He’s always either really happy or really sad, he’s like bipolar or something”, “It was cold yesterday and yet it’s hot today, it’s like God is bipolar”

Actual Definition – Diagnosed with bi-polar depression

Words To Use Instead – Temperamental, Erratic, Fickle, Impulsive, Inconsistent

Ever had a great day ruined, or a bad day made into something brilliant? Moods constantly shifting as the day goes on? Well, a lot of you will say yes here so it’s safe to say that if the majority of us feel this way, it’s not a disorder, it’s just a part of life. Bipolarity is a swing between states of depression and mania and doesn’t always happen in the same day, these switches can last for months at a time and someone who is bipolar might never feel “normal”. Bipolarity can lead to feelings of ambitiousness or joy interchanging with hopelessness or suicidal thoughts and is not a case of being happy and sad within a short time frame. I hear this being used more to describe the weather as a form of personification for the weather but let’s be real people – the weather doesn’t have moods, your mood is just affected by the weather. Rain isn’t sad, the sun doesn’t smile and clouds aren’t actually lazy drifters.

5. Psycho

Slang Usage – “He went psycho when I told him!”, “Calm down psycho!”, “Looked like a proper psycho with that angry face!” – Used to mean someone who is very angry or bad-tempered

Actual Definition – A psychopath

Words To Use Instead – Angry, Livid, Furious, Aggressive, Grumpy

As someone who has tested positive for many traits of psychopathy, this one hits close to home and I find it to be a derogatory term that attributes any aggressive behaviour to being the end result of a fault in your own mental fault, as if it’s your fault you’re annoyed. Granted, I may well be an actual psychopath so those people who taunted me as “the school psycho” might actually be onto something but it doesn’t change the fact they were deliberately provoking me, I didn’t just explode for no reason. If you call someone a psychopath, that’s a serious thing to call someone, you’re saying that they are a remorseless being incapable of empathy. I struggled to gain a sense of empathy and the theory that I am essentially dormant (Due to a childhood free of abuse) and not active is what made my life much easier and my rage controllable with enough effort but not everyone has it as easy as exerting some self-control, some may not even feel guilt for their misdeeds and some may rely on medication to fit in so don’t make it harder for them by calling every aggressive person you meet a cold-blooded psycho nutjob

6. Autistic

Slang Usage – “She just didn’t understand me, is she autistic?”, “You’re so awkward, are you autistic or something?”, “He likes counting stuff out loud, it’s his thing, like that autistic guy in the movie!” – Used to mean an awkward person or someone with unusual habits or in a worst case scenario, someone who is slow or unintelligent

Actual Definiton – Diagnosed with autism or a similar condition on the scale of autism such as aspergers

Words To Use Instead – Awkward, Unusual, Eccentric, Difficult, Odd

Autism is the new retardation it seems, I hear this word being used as synonym for stupid. Rule of thumb guys, if you think someone is stupid, call them stupid or dimwitted or anything other than a retard or an autistic person. I dreaded telling people I had aspergers, the moment some found out they started talking slower, checking if I was ok every five minutes and saying “Don’t mind him, he’s got assburgers” to every stranger who looked at me funny. Autism and aspergers are either seen as cute and quirky or dopey and infuriating and that upsets me as a man with aspergers, my brother being autistic and having met many like me. I mean, do you take me for a dullard? No, I’m perfectly intelligent, got A* across the board in my core GCSEs, my IQ is technically genius level and my brother worked hard to overcome the label of ‘the stupid brother’ to smash his school’s expectations of him and now you can’t tell by looking at him, or me, that we are what we are, people just think we’re two general nerds. Autism is just a different wiring to achieve the same result, it’s the Playstation to the Xbox, the Renault or Peugeot – same basic deal, just some slight differences but ultimately doing the same thing

I know you might use these words in jest but these jokes stick and serve to reinforce stereotypes and frankly it’s only mental health that gets this kind of stigma. Imagine if I said the weather was as unreliable as a woman, that you’re as angry as a black man, that the weather seems a bit diabetic. I understand we do use physical illness as an adjective, a bad idea is called cancerous after all. I also know that not everyone is offended by this behaviour as it serves as a vehicle to raise awareness but I think we can agree that the fact these words are now used to describe certain character traits means that people know these things exist, they just need educating on what they actually are. You might call someone OCD for always cleaning their room once a week, but do you understand what actually defines someone as OCD? The time for educating people about mental health is here, for children and adults alike because the joke has long since stopped being funny