An Unashamed Crazy Guinea Pig Lady

Hello! I’m the human that happens to be attached to these and three other guinea pigs. They run the show, not me.

I’m an official Crazy Person™ by virtue of having lived with major depressive disorder for more than a decade. I’ve had the joy of being shit-kicked a few times over the years by others’ stigmatized beliefs about what a Crazy Person™ is, and long as there is ignorance, I’ll be trying my best to do something about it.

I also happen to be a disabled/retired-ish official Crazy Person™ nurse, having worked in hospital and community mental health settings…


Differences are only bad if society decides they are

Image by Lustoza from Pixabay

As human beings, each of us is more alike than we are different. In fact, we all share 99.9% of the same genes, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. Despite all of this sameness, we pay a lot of attention to differences… but only some differences are socially relevant, and the rest we don’t give a lot of thought to.

Physical features

Some people, due to a minor genetic variation, have a widow’s peak. I have this; it’s where the hairline forms a V-shape at the centre of the forehead. A widow’s peak is often noticeable, but if anyone does…


Stigma in the ER

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

A recent story on CBC GoPublic recently caught my eye. It was about a man who was written off because he was just a psych patient.

In April 2018, David Pontone went to the emergency department at Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Canada. He was experiencing severe leg pain. He also happened to have bipolar disorder, which was stable. The ER doc ordered an MRI and also referred him to the on-call psychiatrist. Notes from his chart state the reason for his visit was bipolar, and the psychiatrist wrote that his main symptom was anxiety.

Come on, big boy

When nothing showed up on…


Maybe some opinions don’t deserve to see the light of day

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Honesty is the best policy, right? I say no, no, no, no. And let’s add on one more no, just for good measure. I would also like to propose two kinds of “honesty”, only one of which I think actually involves honesty.

First, you’ve got things that can be answered or described objectively. Let’s say I ask you if I have any lettuce stuck in my teeth? Unless you don’t have a clear view of my dental situation, that’s a clear yes or no answer, with no room for interpretation. You might not feel comfortable mentioning the lettuce, but if…


Should people from marginalized groups be represented by one of their own on film?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Questions around onscreen representation recently came up in both online and in-person interactions, and I wanted to look at it a little more closely, as it wasn’t something I’d given much thought to.

Representation issues

A couple of months ago, I was having a conversation with a close friend. .He gets most of his information about the world from Youtube. Social justice isn’t on his radar at all, but he does like movies.

He told me that Halle Berry had been cut from a movie because the character she was supposed to play was transgender, and there was backlash that she’d been…


Vaccines are here, but will people take them?

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Ever since COVID-19 swept across the planet earlier this year, the race has been on to develop a vaccine. Now there are two vaccines that are just about ready to go, but there seems to be quite a bit of reluctance when it comes to the prospect of actually getting it. So let’s talk about it.

The vaccine options

The vaccines that are ready, or almost ready, to go come from Moderna and Pfizer. In general, there are two kinds of vaccines, live attenuated (which contains weakened replicating virus) and inactivated; both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are inactivated, meaning they don’t contain…


Clearing up some of the myths about self-harm

Photo by Uriel SC on Unsplash

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a fancy way of saying self-harm behaviour that differentiates it from suicidality. Cutting and burning are the most common methods, but there are a variety of other methods people use, including scratching, burning, and hitting.

The onset of NSSI on average is between ages 11 and 15, and it tends to be more severe and prolonged if it starts when people are under 12 years old. About 15–20% of adolescents self-injure at some point. It’s difficult to say if this has changed over time because it just hasn’t been studied for all that long, so there…


When parents go to court to exert control

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Recently, I read a story in the local news that made me angry (not that that’s unusual lately). A mother had gone to court to try to block her 17-year-old from getting a gender-affirming double mastectomy. A BC Supreme Court judge issued an injunction to stop the surgery that was scheduled to happen the next day.

In British Columbia, the Canadian province where I live, there isn’t a set age of consent for medical procedures. The Infants Act covers anyone under the age of 19, and describes mature minor consent, which allows a minor to give consent independent of their…


The slippery slope of narcissistic personality disorder and mental illness stigma

Reproduction of Narcissus by Caravaggio — public domain

Mental illness stigma is a very real problem. Those of us living with mental illness usually aren’t thrilled when people casually toss around mental illness diagnoses as adjectives, such as “she’s so bipolar” or “he’s so OCD” or “everyone’s a little ADHD.”

And yet, when it comes to narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), all of a sudden there are boatloads of people all over the internet becoming armchair diagnosticians and talking about “narcissistic abuse.”

Here’s my issue. Emotional/psychological abuse is horrendously damaging, and it’s an issue that doesn’t get anywhere near the attention that it deserves. But when you drag a…


Being effective in challenging mental illness stigma

Image by MonikaP from Pixabay

Patrick Corrigan has been my research crush for a number of years now. And what is a research crush, you might ask? I like how his mind works. He’s a psychologist and stigma researcher, with lived experience of mental illness to boot. He’s one of the most prolific publishers in academic journals that I’ve ever come across. His perspective on stigma is focused on what actually works, and language policing is one of the topics he’s researched. All of the quotes in this post come from his article that’s referenced below.

Where things get really interesting is that he’s shown…

Ashley L. Peterson

Mental health blogger | Former MH nurse | Living with depression | Author of 3 books, latest is Managing the Depression Puzzle | mentalhealthathome.org

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