I don’t think this is you

“I don’t think this is you.  This is your pathology, not your personality.”

 

This was told to me by a psychiatrist when I was going through a particularly rough patch, and my behavior was less than stellar.  The thing with mental illness is that our symptoms are not just seen as something apart from us.  The way mental illness manifests, is that it affects the very way we think and feel, the way we perceive the world around us, and the actions we take.

Sometimes corrections a person who is mentally healthy can take are actually impossible for a person with mental illness.  Then there is the added stigma of that if we were just “better”  more compliant with our treatment, or choosing different treatment that our illness would be better mitigated.

 

Being mentally ill is not something we “do” to other people, but unlike many other illnesses, it can get a bit messy, and affect not only we who are suffering, but affect those around us as well.  I don’t know how to avoid this.  And the longer that we do manage to hold things together the more it seems like a betrayal when things finally go off the wheels.

 

Mental illness is damaging.   It destroys one’s careers, one’s relationships, one’s perceptions, thoughts, and emotions.  In my case, any mitigation is always ephemeral. Sooner or later, it will become evident that I am ill.  Things will be done that are out of character for me, but they will still be me doing it.  While I get dissociated and see my pathology take the driver’s seat while my personality is taken along like a passenger.

 

Mental Illness is a hell of a thing.

When my illness feels close to the surface

Most days, under treatment, the symptoms of my mental illness can be mitigated.  My symptoms are always there, but some days they are further from the surface than others.  Today is not one of those days.  I feel very aware today that I am mentally ill. It makes me feel fragile somewhat.

Treatment even at its very best is imperfect. And my current treatment regimen is far from ideal.

I always try to do the best with what I got, and not see myself in competition with those around me, but right now I can’t help but see how deficient I am compared to folk who do not suffer as I or others do.

Part of this itching feeling of my illness being so close to the surface has made me more aware and sensitive to stigmatization of mental illness.  Deficiencies in mental health seem to be constant fodder for jokes about how crazy or insane someone is, or off handed comments about someone being off their meds.  When I am feeling more well, I can more easily brush these things off, but on days like today, they hurt.  They seem to cut deeper than most days. Where someone can apply a label in jest, there is nowhere I can go where I am not mentally ill.

The importance of feeling sad

I think that the attitude of sadness being a thing to be avoided is misguided.

Gandalf’s last words on middle earth included, “Not all tears are an evil”. Gandalf understood the important, and transformative power of sorrow.

Sorrow does not have to be avoided at all costs.  The push in the society I live in to see any kind of sadness as unwanted (in ourselves or in others), has lead to a lack of emotional maturity and awareness.   To see being sad as a kind of failing that needs to be corrected, is a terrible attitude to have, in my humble opinion.

Emotional turmoil can be awful to feel sometimes, but when I cry, I feel alive.  I feel human.

I think that emotions are physiological communication to our bodies and minds.  In the Tolkien Mythology, Gandalf was the student of a powerful Vala by the name of Nienna, who’s power is described as that,”she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom.”

We should no sooner stop a person from exercising to gain strength of muscle, because it is difficult, that it may have pain.  Likewise, sorrow can be an emotional effort, which when we process it can leave us stronger, and wiser.

 


 

 

This ties into the stigma of the mentally ill, because those of us that have mood disorders, do feel sad,  and do so quite often.  What’s worse, is that outside observers can see no reason for us to feel so.   When one thinks that feeling sad is some kind of failing,  well feeling sad “for no good reason”  makes it absolutely unacceptable.

What we have here is in my opinion a societal ill, that affects the mentally ill more than most.

There is a lot of attention for those with cyclic mood disorders, such as my diagnosis of Bipolar I, on the highest highs, and lowest lows.  While those are the most dangerous moods, and when I am at those points in my cycle, I definitely need help and support (at times clinical)  the peak of mania, and the valley of depression, are just two stops on the cycle of my mood.   They don’t even make up the majority of my moods, they are however what gets the most attention.

The microprocessor was invented the year I was born.  My entire lifetime has seen us transition from the analog to the digital, and I see a lot of binary type thinking around me.  Even newscasters wanting to sum up a story as “is this good or bad?”   Thing is the world is not digital (as far as we know) and our brains certainly aren’t.  Things just are not always easily defined by two little boxes and “yes and no” questions.

I think we need to come back to embrace the noisy analog signal.  Am I happy or sad?  is it good or bad?  Well, its a mixture of both, and where one ends and the other begins ain’t exactly clear, and that’s fine by me.

 

 

An unsuccessful approach to ableism

While internet interactions may seem the most benign, they can also be the most public.  When  an online community has a policy against discrimination, yet gives ableism a pass, I think that policy is either flawed, or the moderation is.   Especially when the person stating that they are the object of discrimination is the one that is disciplined for “persistence”.   That is, the continued defense against fallacious, discriminatory assertions of instead of accepting the futility of changing a bigot’s mind.

The group in question is called Jedi church (the original)  the thread in question has already been altered, though by the participants or the moderators I do not know.

In my introduction in this blog  I relate the story of two decades past about an individual who said that they wish they were bipolar so that they “would not have to work.”  An interaction in this group was eerily similar.   A man by the name of Dave Jenson said the following:

As long as people can have an excuse for their behavior, as long as people can make a living by simply being mentally ill, as long as a living can be made helping the mentally ill. And as I had noticed that when mental illness drop in numbers, new illnesses are invented and old illnesses take longer than before to gain a handle on. As long as this persists their will always be mental illness, real or imagined.

 

Thinking that I might be perhaps misreading the situation, I asked that if the three points I was inferring from this statement was true, the three points being:

 

  • People wrongly use mental illness as an excuse for what Dave Jenson considers bad behavior.
  • People use claims of mental illness in order to receive income.
  • The Mental Health Profession is takes advantage of the first two points to justify a wage for those that work in the profession.

Instead of clarifying or correcting, Dave Jenson used further fallacious arguments and untrue statements of fact to support these initial claims, about how much money that Disability insurance is paid fraudulently so that fakers can “earn a living” and I used congressional testimony that his claimed number was over 51% or DI payments, which in turn makes it seem to me that Dave Jenson was inferring that if someone receives DI one is more likely than not to be a fraud.

Other assertions in this thread alone were:

From Talon Trevor MacDonald:

Emotion is natural, and necessary for most. Some get lost in Emotion, and cannot contain or control it. This is generally due to Mental Illness, but also in a few cases, It is on purpose.

This infers to me an assertion that lack of emotional control is generally only represented by 4.1 percent of the population in the United States (the percentage of Adults in the USA with Serious Mental Illness according to NIMH)

and Bae Ryder, a moderator had this gem:

There are only two reasons why a professional will use the DSM: 1- insurance purposes and 2: for personal information. The DSM is defective in more ways than one. I would not use that creditable source because no professional would. Just a suggestion.

You know, instead of using a diagnostic manual to CORRECTLY DIAGNOSE AN ILLNESS.

What makes it rich was from a post immediately following the above again from Bae Ryder:

With a topic like Mental Health, unless you are a professional sitting inside your office, don’t try to give someone advice on Facebook about it. It is dangerous and unethical not to mention, it can kill. Do everyone a favor and just don’t go there. The government is not a good source of information and neither is someone that does not have at least a masters in mental health or websites that have agendas.

This seems to imply that a person LIVING with mental illness is unqualified to speak on the matter due to a lack of formal schooling.  Which is rich coming from a person that just said that the DSM which is written by such is not fit to be used by the same professionals  to diagnose.

 


 

The silencing of those that advocate against the stigmatization of the mentally ill,  including those that self-advocate like myself, is itself a further stigmatization.   In the above groups  it was explained to me by two moderators (one of which I consider a friend) (again after I made no move to or expressed an interest in rejoining) in extended conversations about my banning, that the owner of the group “Paladin Carl” values harmony, and it was me voicing my objection to discrimination in a manner he finds unbecoming more onerous than the discrimination itself.  My friend Alethea Jolene Thompson, also a moderator  there, explained to me that it was my tenacity of trying to “win” that was unwelcome.

Rather than explain in detail my objections to these views, I recommend the following reading http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

 

Those named in this post are more than welcome to make their case in the comments, I give you my word, that I will not censor or silence, as I have been in the named facebook post.

For further reading on my thoughts of applied Jedi Philosophy see:  http://jedipath.org or my associated facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JediPath