Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Support Group? Feh!

Oh, my. My hands are shaking. My heart is quaking. I am about ready to check myself in for an encore of shock treatments. And why, you might ask?

Because I recently joined a bipolar message board.

I came looking for support and understanding. Instead, I found myself in a weird alternate universe where I was apparently an outcast among outcasts.

I have joined many message boards--for writers, substance abusers, artists, those with mood disorders. All have been completely civilized and well-moderated. A few are absolutely fantastic. But in this particular group, the inmates were (you should pardon the expression) quite literally running the asylum, and they were rabidly hunting for fresh blood.

There was a woman who posted the other day who had just been unceremoniously dumped via e-mail by her boyfriend of several years. I, along with others in the group, wrote to express our sympathy and support. I crafted an e-mail which I thought was thoughtful and sensitive. I said that my heart went out to her; that I had almost cried when I read her post, that I hoped and prayed that she would find a man who would treat her the way she deserved to be treated. But almost as soon as I could hit the "send" button, I was deluged with hate mail from a bipolar lynch mob whose fury knew no bounds.

Apparently, my words of support were not delivered in the "correct" manner. I was condescending, and stereotyping all women as victims. I tried to defend myself, but the more I posted the deeper I got pulled in and the more I felt like taking a double dose of my meds. In exasperation, I finally wrote a post entitled "What a Bunch of Wackos!" Oh boy, I thought I was in trouble before. Apparently this was a grave slur upon my fellow emotionally challenged group members.

So the following day, I took a deep breath and decided to approach the problem with a little levity. When I received a verbal barb, I lobbed one right back in a sarcastically humorous fashion. Huge mistake. That got one baiter so riled up that she ordered me never to respond to any of her posts ever again and to leave her alone. I quickly hit the "reply" button and gleefully wrote: "Gotcha!"

By the end of this escapade, some in the group were worked up into quite a manic lather. Unfortunately for me, the moderator not only apparently allowed flaming on a regular basis, but chose who could post gratuitously vicious messages with relative impunity and who could not. Guess who got chastised?

Oh how I wish she had come to my defense the other day, when I was so cruelly attacked from all sides! But alas, the "cool" members of the group ruled; while those with "saner" viewpoints were (I imagine) too cowed to dare speak a word against it.

After one of my newfound friends mentioned something sarcastic about my "stupid blog" (which I had invited one and all to post a comment on) I informed the group that I now intended to write something about the whole sordid experience here. I had not joined the group with this intention, but the material was so irresistible that as a writer I just couldn't pass it up.

One paranoid person then chimed in imagining that I was the mysterious poster of yore who had warned the group that they had been posting under multiple names in order to gather material for an article.

After all this fracas, I was on the verge of being kicked out of the group by the oh-so-unbiased moderator. So I unsubscribed.

And here I am, trying to calm down.

By the way: this whole fiasco did bring to mind a particular observation I've often made about maligned groups: they are often super sensitive to the point of paranoia about others' supposed bigotry against them, but they are often completely indifferent to slurs against other groups.

For instance, one poster offered a blatantly racist little item about Mexicans. When I had posted the "What a Bunch of Wackos" message the day before, you'd better believe I got taken down a peg or two for engaging in such a horrible slur against the mentally ill. But after this gentleman's post, the only responses (other than mine) were comments like "that's so funny! or "I hear ya, dude!" (I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of it.) Guess there are no bipolar Mexicans out there, so what the hey.

So it just goes to prove that the lesson I've learned so very long ago still holds true:

There are a##holes of all nationalities, races, and creeds--and plenty of 'em.

I'm going to turn off "Herman" (my beloved PowerMac) for awhile and let him take a well-deserved nap. And I think I'll wait til tomorrow to tackle the rest of my e-mail--just in case they haven't gotten around to "unsubscibing" me yet.


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Michael Kacinec said...

I'm sorry that you left the group. I have noticed the same things, too, but haven't unsubscribed because there were a couple of people I thought were okay. If you know of any other bipolar support groups that are really good, I'd appreciate the info.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Dear Michael:

Thank you so much. As I've told you before, you may have literally saved my very sanity-- because you were one of the few people who provided a "reality check" by daring to stand up to the cyber-bullies in that truly nightmarish forum.

As far as other support groups for bipolars, I know of one very excellent mood disorders board that has a great bipolar sub-forum. I will not provide names and addresses of any specific forums here because it may drive some "normal" wackos to these sites to have a little nasty fun at the member's expense. Ironically, some of the more paranoid members of the abovementioined forum were convinced that I was a prankster who was just trying to gather a little juicy material for my blogsite. When I joined, it was only with the intention of getting and giving support--no more and no less. But after the treatment I received at the hands of my "bretheren," I decided that I had to speak out somewhere.

I know that people in a manic state can be very belligerent. I've been there myself. However, the moderator should have done something about it from the get-go. Instead, she demonstrated that she was appalingly biased and that this vicious clique of professional flamers were her special pets, allowed to wreak havoc on a board that was supposedly intended to provide support and a safe, healing forum for those who suffer from an often devastating disorder.

I am a member of other boards representing a variety of special interests, and all of them stay on topic and do not tolerate any breach of the rules--especailly the no-flaming policy. I don't think this even needs to be said in these forums--people there know how to behave courteously and respectfully towards one another without being told.

I will probably include another entry on this topic shortly, because I have some more things to say about it.

Bless you, Michael. I'll contact you privately with the info on the other mood disorders forum.

At 8:18 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

A postscript to the fiasco:

I e-mailed the moderator privately back and forth a few times, and we finally reached the point where we seemed to understand each other's point of view. The moderator, who is also a student, was faced with the humanly impossible task of trying to manage a board that posted zillions (well, ok, let's just say a LOT) of messages a day, sometimes at dizzying rates of speed. There would be no practical way to screen them all before sending them out. And though she tried her best to post warnings when people started to misbehave, things sometimes got out of control so quickly that it was hard to even keep track of how it all started in the first place.

She said she would be speaking to her webmaster (I think? At any rate, someone in the hierarchy of the forum world) to see what measures could be taken to try to contain the fracas.

My best guess is that she may not have seen the original post that started it all--my foolish offer of sympathy and support. The nasty responses came so fast and furious that it really was hard to keep a scorecard. Members who wandered in in the middle of the two-day battle were often left thinking: wha happened? The poor girl whose boyfriend had dumped her via e-mail even felt inadvertenty "responsible"--but she said that she appreciated every poster's messages of support--and these were, indeed, legion.

I know that there are some good people on this board. I still believe that they are often the "quiet ones"--some of whom actually did attempt to welcome me. And from her intermittent posts to the board, I know that the moderator's heart is definitely in the right place. She wants to have a board where people are free to speak their minds--within reason--i.e. without flaming. I am indeed grateful that although I, and others, were chastized for our behavior, she did not censor their posts OR mine--though she did duly issue warnings.

I also expressed my concern that some of the members of the board might still be troubled with the notion that I was a fraudulent interloper looking for an inside "wacko" scoop. I suggested that she might wish to reassure the forum that I had spoken to her and done everything I could to assure her that this is not, and never was, my intention.

In any event, the whole experience was certainly... interesting. I wish her the best.

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't flatter yourself by claiming to be a sweet, yet vicitimized person who craved support.

You called one person wacko and then when she was hurt, you attacked her again.

Your posts evolved from being superficially nice to being overtly belligerent!

At 2:08 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Ladies and gents, lest you think my piece was too unbelievable and horrifying to be nonfiction, I present-- one of the near and dear "members" of my "support" group!

Unfortunately, the response is short and "sweet"--too darn short, if you ask me. But note the humorlessness; the grim spite; the adolescent, "nyah nyah nyah NYAH nyah" one-upsmanship! Nothing I could write could change your crazy little mind, bless your soul! You do make me proud to be bipolar--you're a damn fine credit to us wackos everywhere!

Oh vey, hand me my meds! My smelling salts! You're giving me flashbacks!! Hellllllpppppp!!!!

Well, I hope more of you wacky wackos write in and unload. But just remember, you're on my psycho turf now. I'm just waiting for one partiularly malicious cut 'n' paste specialist to rear his psychotic head on this blog. This guy took my post, cut and copied each line, pasted his vitriolic little jabs after each, and really gave me quite a nice little dressing down about my "superficially nice" offer of support to a fellow human being.

Well, here I am, punk. You want a piece of me too? Show yourself on this board and I will cut you, paste you, eat you for breakfast, and regurgitate you all over this blog!!! AHHHHHHHHHHAAAHAAAAA!!!! Don't tangle with a manic Scorpio rising!!!

By the way, whoever said I was a "sweet", "victimized" person looking for support? I'm a crazy, egotistical writer looking for hits hits hits and any nice or nasty comments you fling my way! Come on you guys, I know you can do better than that!! Where the heck are the rest of you WACKOS now that I really need you????

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous smartalix said...

I once lost a great relationship because of poor empathic expression. That is, I had the right feelings but did not express them in the proper fashion. The failure occurred primarily because I was on the phone, and could not read the body language of my girlfriend.

This problem is magnified significantly online.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hey smartalix:

I get where you're coming from. Technology is a wondrous thing, but sometimes you need some face time.

I will be reminiscing about my adventures in the nightmarish world of internet dating soon....

At 7:32 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

A horrifying cyber-event happened to me last night. Since I'd heard it was cool, I attempted to download and sign in to Yahoo Messenger. As soon as I logged in--before I could even figure out how to start building my buddy list--a few messages appeared. The first was from a member of the horrid BP support group, which I had quit awhile back. Her message was alarming and threatening, and filled me with terror and awe.

The gist of it was that she warned me in no uncertain terms not to write any details about the group in my blog. If I did so, she had a lawyer relative who would sue my ass off for loads of money, making her rich in the process.

I knew exactly who this psychotic bully was from her Yahoo ID. From her prior messages to me through the group, it was quite obvious she was deranged. Her maniacal group message to me had been something to the effect that no one messes with her friends in the group (this was apparently in response to my "What a Bunch of Wackos post.") Not only that, when in response to her illiterate, run on sentence rant, I noted merely that the post spoke for itself, I immediately received a post from another group member saying I had hurt the psycho's feelings with my hurtful response.

I was dismayed, to say the least. How could my former group member have pounced on me so quickly? Was she stalking me?

I immediately dashed off frantic e-mails to my two new cyber friends Henry (the wondrous techno-wizard who posts here and is helping me solve my tech issues), and Ice at, who also quit the wacko group and was often a vic of their dirty, nasty games.

Henry helped me block it all out (as he said, think of it as a bad dream. It never happened.") He explained that the woman had probably posted days or weeks ago, and the message was just waiting on the IM system for me. Ice told me essentially the same thing.

I thought briefly about complaining to Yahoo groups about the forum, but decided against it. They all deserve each other. Just hope more "normal" head cases don't innocently stumble upon this group of deeply disturbed, unrepentantly vicious assholes.


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