Everything is forever on the Internet, so there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen a post like this in your Facebook or Twitter feed in the last 24 hours and perhaps you’ve even dutifully followed the instruction to repost it without questioning anything about it. “Make her
pay, famous,” the instructions say, and people online are only too happy to spread the hate in return. we
The post is actually a year old. It was up for three days last January, after which Heather Wick’s family members and distant friends received death threats for days. Now, they’re back in the line of fire.
Even Albany Medical College, which Wick attended for a year before a breakdown, had to fire up the denials again.
Heather Wick is not employed by Albany Medical Center and her words do not represent Albany Medical Center or Albany Medical College. Thank you. https://t.co/LCCmg5KOYJ
— AlbanyMedicalCenter (@AlbanyMed) January 23, 2018
“My mother keeps calling and saying — she’s my bipolar watchdog — she says, ‘You were manic when you wrote that, you were manic!’” Wick said after the post last year. “I wasn’t manic, I was making a satirical joke. I regret that I did it because it was a little too over the line. I meant it as a joke but I apologize if I offended anybody.”
Wick is bipolar and the Vermont website, Seven Days, says a family member said at the time that it likely played a part in the ill-advised post.
A concerned family member of Wick’s contacted Seven Days after learning about the story. This close relative, who asked not to be named because he, too, has received angry phone calls and was concerned for his family’s safety, reiterated Wick’s statements about her mental health. He detailed Wick’s struggle and said she’d been in good shape for the past five years.
He said that a recent trip to Hawaii, and the resulting jetlag, threw Wick out of whack. Wick, he said, has been in the midst of a manic episode beginning some time before she typed up her ill-fated post.
None of that was known by people who first saw her post shared.
A St. Louis TV reporter, Gina Cheatham, is responsible for the first barrage, and doesn’t find mental illness an excuse.
“It’s not OK. We all have issues we are dealing with individually and that does not excuse us for hurting other people,” Cheatham said last year. “Your mouth is the biggest weapon you have and you can use it for healing — or for hurting.”
Why did Wick, a Bernie Sanders voter, make the post in the first place?
“I was reading posts from Facebook friends,” she continued, “who were saying, ‘Trump’s going to kill us all; he’s going to remove all protections for the LGBT community; he’s going to turn back civil rights.’ Finally, I got sick of hearing all these doomsayers, and I put up a post that said: ‘Hey, maybe Trump will bring back slavery. I could use a maid.’”
And here we are. Wick reiterated that she apologizes and regrets the post immensely.
“Bipolar is one of those illnesses that, even if you’re stable, you can have minor blips on the radar,” Wick said on Friday. “Unfortunately one minor blip on the radar was the comment I made about slavery.
“Managing bipolar disorder is an hour-by-hour job,” she added. “If it comes on, I’m completely uncontrollable. I become a monster. You just have no idea what’s going to come out of my mouth.”
“What’s funny is she does not know me and I don’t know her,” Cheatham said. “She probably doesn’t even know my name.”
Maybe not that funny.