I spent today doing my normal chores and adding in the once a week and once a month, and even the once in a blue moon chores as well. So while now my house is clean and my car smells nice there is once again little for me to say. I took a nap and once again experienced cognitive dreaming, but other than that my life is in either a really high state so that I have nothing to write or I am in the dreaded writer’s block.
In an attempt to find something to write about that wouldn’t bore my readers and literally shoo people off my blog before they read the first sentence, I decided to research topics on mental health. And boy did I get some good laughs! Not laughter because the topics were funny, but more because the topics were so inane as to make me think that the general world, and doctors in particular, truly believe that those of us reading these mental health topics are really that stupid.
Between, “Depressed People Process Personal Information Differently” to “Planning Ahead for Mental Illness Disorders” one wonders if the community at large will ever get to a place that seeing mental illness as something other than a juicy and repetitive topic to write prose about will ever amount to actually looking at those of us with a mental illness as competent and intelligent human beings. If you are one of the people who wrote these stories I apologize that I used you as an example but I can’t apologize for laughing.
Believe it or not, I as a mentally ill individual am smart. I also know after years of studying my own self what it is that being mental ill means. I know the facts about my own case and I can regurgitate almost verbatim what it is that my doctors are looking for every time I am forced to sit in their office and listen to them ask the same questions they asked the last time I sat in that chair. So while there may be some value in the articles and topics that I saw, I wonder if that should be where we end the discussion.
Because that is where the discussion stops. Read any major mental health blog/website and you will see the same four topics brought up over and over. And while they are important topics they shouldn’t be the only topics. When we are trying to learn to love, to understand, even to forgive ourselves and those with mental illness we can’t rely on a finite number of topics. We have to push the envelope and state with absolute conviction that while we know next to nothing about the human brain and therefore, much of mental illness, we can hypothesize many, many conclusions. And it is those conclusions that ultimately will save the species.
And that is what we are fighting for; the survival of the species. For thousands of years (and we know that the caveman felt the same about mental illness as many people do today) those with mental illnesses have been persecuted, hunted, hung, ostracized, raped, sold as amusements, hidden in closets and literally gassed to death. And yet despite all of this, and the millions of people that are scared of our very presence we have existed and will continue to exist. Even knowing as much as I do about mental illness from my own journeys and my own writings, I had children who will carry the gene that causes me so much pain.
Where is the person that will stand up and begin talking about some of the real concerns? Who is the person that will finally after all these centuries stand up and convince this world that mental illness is not a reason for hatred or annihilation? When will the world be convinced that those with mental diseases are ten times more likely to have violence perpetuated against them rather than actually commit acts of violence? When will our own media look at the horrific events of these mass shootings and understand that no one with mental breakdowns have the capability to actually create, plan and execute these acts? (No one breaking down will wait three days for a gun permit.) So who is it going to be? Who is going to have the courage to finally stand up and say there is so much more?
The question should begin with where do we start? Do we start by convincing our parents that it isn’t the end of the world that we are diseased by a gene they gave to us? Do we start by convincing our doctors that sometimes a breakdown is simply a low point and not a cause for straight jackets and unbelievable tortures? Do we start by convincing ourselves that having a disability such as a mental illness is no worse than having a mole in a prominent position or even having cancer? Because while one may affect the body much differently than the other the truth is at the end of the day they are both just diseases. And we all know, although they don’t write about it often, that we are not our diseases.
I often think about what it would take to make the world see the difference between those of us with mental illness and those monsters that exist because the world is a cruel and unfair place. The monsters that can’t find compassion if they were pointed to it; the monsters that can’t find empathy or even understanding if they were taught it from the day they were born. I often wonder when I will be seen not as a monster by so many people and rather as a person who takes a series of medicines and works hard to exist in a world preordained to hate me.
I have listened to the stories, the real stories, about the pain and truth of mental illness. And none of those stories had anything do to with the four topics that are on literally every major health organizations pages; research mental illness and read the NIH and the NIMH and the SAMHSA websites. And if you can get through some of SAMHSA topics without cringing and wanting to rail not at the intention but the actual information you are a better person than I am.
The truth is those of us with mental illnesses will never be able to live our lives fully in all our glorious insanity until someone stands up and says out loud that which no one wants to actually hear. Until we have a Margaret Sanger, a Victoria Woodhull, a Martin Luther King, Jr. we will continue to spin the idea that there are only four things you need to know about mental illness. Until someone stands up and loudly proclaims that those with mental illness are as human as those with cancer, we will continue to die. We will die not as a species, the genes are too ingrained for that, but as an idea, as a creative entity, as a full-blown, rightfully and legal human being. Until we are thought of as human beings and more than the simplicity that the powerful organizations such as the NIMH believe us to be, we will continue to slowly and painfully stay deep in the darkness of the minds of those who can not help but fear.
I am tired of the fear. I am tired of the same old discussions about mental illness from the same doctors who don’t have mental illness. I am tired of the world believing the words of those who have never experienced a mental breakdown describing an actual fictional breakdown. I am tired of being told that I am a danger, that I am not capable, that I am not worthy. I am tired of being four topics. That’s just ridiculous.