It’s no secret that for the past year or so, Amanda Bynes has been tweeting some pretty erratic things. She’s also been doing some pretty erratic things. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how we as a society are REACTING to these incidences. Amanda Bynes is in serious pain, and we’re…laughing?
On October 10, Amanda Bynes was involuntarily committed to a psych ward and on Tuesday, her stay was extended for another 30 days. Although her parents have not made any declarative statements about her mental health, it is surmised that she might have a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Now, it is not my place to make any judgments about her mental health, but if this is true, then Amanda Bynes is truly struggling. This is not a laughing matter, this is a mental illness. This article sums up a lot of my feelings on the matter; we have been mocking and making a spectacle of someone who is in desperate need for compassion. And the consequences for not receiving that compassion are extremely high: Amanda Bynes is part of a group that is most at risk for self-harm. 70.6% of individuals suffering from both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at some point. She needs help and support, and all we’re offering her is one of the most offensive labels of all: “crazy.”
Now, we’ve pretty much established that labeling sucks (see SpongebobBloggerPants’ Label Me Not post). And “crazy” is one of the most harmful labels of all. “Crazy” is an easy label. It takes the complexity and severity of mental illness and squishes it down into one simple word. It also diminishes one’s personhood; by calling Amanda Bynes “crazy,” we dismiss her thoughts, feelings, and value and limit her to the stereotype that “crazy” carries. It can be easy to laugh at Amanda Bynes because her mishaps are so public, but we need to remember that she is a person first, and a person who is struggling through one of the hardest battles there is.
Amanda Bynes is not her disease. And she is not “crazy.” But it’s so easy to think that. Personally, I know I’ve been guilty of dismissing others (particularly celebrities) as “crazy” without acknowledging the full extent of the disease. I’ve had to do some serious self-reflection, and ultimately, it comes down to showing empathy and support instead of ignoring someone’s pain.
Labeling is easy. Let’s try humanity instead.