Why Maia Campbell’s Illness Isn’t Funny

IN THE HOUSE — Season 1 — Pictured: Maia Campbell as Tiffany Warren — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Like most people, I have seen the video of Maia Campbell that has unfortunately gone viral. If you’re reading this and you’ve seen it, you probably saw a video of a former actress begging for crack. If you’ve seen it and you laughed, you need a wake-up call.

Maia Campbell has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and this wasn’t the first time one of her episodes have been caught on tape. Like the first few times, someone who lacked empathy, captured Maia, off of her medication, at her worse and decided to tape it. Although people have watched for entertainment purposes, what I saw was far from entertaining.

The snippet of the video that I did watch was painful. I saw a woman who doesn’t and can’t see herself clearly because of drugs; drugs used to self-medicate the pain caused by a horrible mental illness. She didn’t choose bipolar disorder; it chose her and now she’s left to manage a crouching tiger that if left untamed, can cause her to become someone completely different. It is inhumane to feel anything but compassion for her, and it is heartless to laugh at and share a video of someone who is clearly in pain.

Although I have never experienced bipolar disorder, I don’t have to in order to know that it’s probably not fun, let alone funny. Just like I don’t have to experience cancer to know the same. As a matter of fact, that’s the question I pondered after seeing that video. Would people be laughing if she were videotaped throwing up after chemotherapy? Would people virtually point and share the video with rude comments like, “Look at Maia, throwing up with no hair?” “She used to be so beautiful, but now look at her!” I can probably guarantee that the answer would be a definitive no. I would even venture to say that I will probably receive several nasty emails for even asking those questions.

It’s a shame that society doesn’t recognize mental and emotional pain the same way they do physical pain. As a matter of fact, we are inadvertently taught to ignore and even hide it. There are no awards given for people who successfully manage their mental illness like the Steve Scott V Foundation does for cancer patients.  There are no benefit concerts to raise money to help people like Maia Campbell, Robin Williams, Bobbi Cristina, or the countless other celebrities that have passed on due to mental health issues. Instead, they are seen as afterthoughts; the people who have or had some type of mental illness.

I still hear people say things like, “Damn, Robin Williams was funny. I hate that he was suffering, yet he made us all laugh,” or “I feel bad for judging Bobbi Cristina. She must have really just missed her mom,” and finally, “Maia Campbell used to be beautiful, but now she looks a mess.” There is no compassion for the celebrities who suffer while living under the microscope of the media and in fear of social media. Instead, they are met with ridicule and judgment for your entertainment purposes. The problem is that mental illness, like any other disease, should never be seen as entertaining.

Here’s the deal, if you laughed, mocked or made harsh judgments about that viral video of Maia Campbell, you are unknowingly or perhaps knowingly, part of a huge societal problem. You continue to perpetuate a dangerous stigma that prevents people from seeking help. Did you know that mental illness is highly treatable and with help, these people can lead normal lives? Did you know that people with mental illness live in fear of judgment and mockery, so many self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to numb the pain? Did you know that you add to that fear and pain when you laugh and share videos of them when they are not at their best selves?

That video of Maia Campbell is not funny, so please don’t help perpetuate the stigma by laughing and sharing it? Instead, what you can do to help is to express concern, compassion and nonjudgmental love. She needs the same type of support that you would give to someone battling cancer. Her battle might not be physical, but it is just as debilitating and can be just as fatal.

Get well soon, Maia. We are praying for you!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail