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The Time I Got Blocked by William Shatner for Defending Mental Health

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If you’ll bear with me a moment, I have a little bit of a story to tell about the great William Shatner. I know you’re probably asking, “What does this have to do with mental health?” I’ll admit, I have been extremely anxious to come out about this in a more public level after the response I got on Twitter, so much so it has taken me several days to craft a response I felt was intelligible. I also know that writing this or publishing it will no doubt subject me to further reproach, but I feel like it’s something I just can’t keep quiet about. Most people would leave it alone at this point, but I rarely know when to let something go, especially if there is a potential bully involved.

So anyway, a few months ago, I logged onto Twitter, as I have been prone to do. I’ve actually had this Twitter account for about three years, and there was one I had before this one I lost the password to. Which is to say, I’m actually pretty naive to the unspoken rules of Twitter. So, I said what I said and I made my bed.

This was how the exchange started before I entered it:

Commenter: Not what you said last night.

William Shatner: No, that is your recurring psychotic dream. Did you take your meds this morning? You probably didn’t.

This is where my conversation about mental health comes in. At this point, I was unaware that these two people even knew each other, so I thought good old Bill was being his usual self towards another commenter (as I have seen him do before without knowing the context) and I was still waking up when I began reading my feed.

So, enter me, stage left:

Me: Mental health is not a joke.

Shatner: Yes, dear! Whatever you say!

Immediately I could feel myself cringe and heard it in a combination of his voice and my mother’s sarcastic voice, and of course I immediately responded in my own sarcastic, snarky way:

Me: There are people out there who are literally dying because they can’t get help but @WilliamShatner can look down his nose at all the little people and make jokes about their “psychotic meds.” A man who has better access to medical care than I ever will.

Me: Must be nice to look down your nose at us from your ivory tower.

Bill wasn’t too happy about my reply, understandably:

Shatner: Says the virtue signaler with the uber offensive word Crazy in their bio. Give it up sweetheart – before you go on a hunting trip make sure you’re not committing any social media “sins” yourself.

And with that, I was blocked from seeing any more tweets from William Shatner.

Sir, I come before you now, in the court of public opinion because you have allowed me no other avenue to speak, to clarify what I meant to say, and to say that my point is still relevant. Allow me to explain:

I knew (only after I made the mistake of opening my big thumbs) that the conversation I walked in was meant to be a joke between friends. I’ll admit that interjecting myself into a conversation I was never meant to be a part of was pretty rude. I would have expected the same reaction out of you if I had just happened to overhear you talking in public and spoke up.

My problem herein is this: That conversation was public. The comment about mental health was put there on the internet for all of the whole world to see. You meant it to be funny, and I get that. If there was no humor about mental health, some of us would probably be dead. There are plenty of comedians and actors out there who will make fun of their own mental health in a way that helps other people relate instead of excluding them.

I personally was a self-described “crazy cat lady” in my bio because I myself carry several mental and physical health diagnoses, including some that have actually only been correctly diagnosed in the past two years. I’m not a spring chicken but I’m barely in my mid 30s, which is rather young compared to how long you have been around on this earth. I have seen a lot in my short life, which is why I currently live on disability.

Getting back to my point sir, that what I obviously meant to say was “other people’s mental health is not a joke.” But if you want to go the route of all mental health, at least I can admit I was wrong there. You didn’t even address the base argument and honed in on the word “crazy” as your point of attack. I have never said that my own mental health wasn’t a joke, because if I didn’t find humor in it I wouldn’t be here now to be writing this long winded message that you’ll probably never read. That’s where the “crazy” cat lady came in. I didn’t refer to anyone else this way.

However, disparaging another person’s mental health, however jokingly, is where I draw the line. Until you’ve have someone scream, “Have you taken your meds today?” anytime you’re even slightly emotional, you’ll never comprehend how that kind of talk can kill someone you’ll never meet. For me as a kid, the meds my mom gave me was the weed she stuffed in my face so I “would stop being such a b****.”

Someone told me as I discussed this with them earlier that you starred in a show called “Boston Legal.” I never actually got to see it when it came out because I was too poor for cable at the time. My mom has a mental illness, too, so some “crazy” stuff happened during that time period, but I did a little research on it. You played a character on the show whose mental health was deteriorating from Alzheimer’s, and from what I can see and your role was well received and you played your part well.

Then I ask you, how can you so callously and heartlessly refer to mental health issues you’ve portrayed on TV? How can you find humor in another person’s pain, hypothetically or unintentionally? Why is someone’s “psychotic dream” funny to you? Most importantly, why do you think this kind of talk is OK in 2020? Do you view mental health as such a trivial issue that you feel the need to drop a derogatory mental health reference in casual conversation?

Unless you’ve actually seen a person having psychotic delusions or dreams, you’ll never know how deadly serious having these issues actually is. You have no idea what it feels like to not be in control of your own brain. Mental health is not a choice, but the work done to improve it is. Some of us are better equipped to handle it than others.

Mr. Shatner, if someone does not take a stand and say that talking about another person’s mental health in a derogatory way is not OK, then who will? You have the platform to be able to change how mental health is talked about in a powerful and significant way. You have the choice to not be a bully, and you can help to change how mental health is treated and viewed for the better. I’m a disabled nobody from western New York with no public influence at all except this letter and my Twitter account.

I want to make it clear that I do not expect a reply or an apology. I will not await your answer with bated breath because I’m quite sure it will never come. I’m willing and open to have a conversation anytime about this topic, if you are. My Twitter inbox is open to messages anytime.

In closing Mr. Shatner, I steadfastly stand by my point: other people’s mental health is not a joke. And disparaging another person for their mental health is not funny, nor should it be seen as such.

If you read this far, thank you for taking the time to be open minded and listen.


Coley, @boredsouthpaw

Originally published: October 12, 2020
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