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Posted by purplemary54 on October 10, 2012

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week in the U.S. (click here for more info).  Mental Illness is still far too stigmatized and discriminated against around the world.  What many people don’t seem to realize is that mental illness is just as much a result of biology and genetics as any other illness.  What little I know (I am no expert on any illness; I just like to learn about things) tells me that most “mental” illnesses have more to do with things like brain chemistry, hormones, and electrical impulses gone awry.  Those on the outside have a tendency to blame the patient for their illness, thinking that it ought to be as simple as telling yourself not to feel that way anymore.  If it were that simple, there would be no such thing as mental illness.

For the record, I am not seriously mentally ill (no matter how often it seems like I am).  I have benefitted from group and individual therapy in the past; I am considering seeking out therapy in the near future. I have a touch of OCD and some anxiety/anger issues which I am trying to decipher and overcome through my own research, but I might want professional input in the future.  Personally, I think everyone would benefit from some therapy.  I also think everyone has a touch of OCD, it just manifests in different ways for everyone.  For some people, problems like the ones I’m dealing with present little or no problem in their day-to-day lives; for others, it is debilitating.

I imagine the world for seriously mentally ill people sometimes feels a little bit like the world in this video.  Everything is chaotic and out of control.  Sounds are too loud, lights are too bright, and people are either indifferent or hostile.  I remember seeing this video as a kid and not really understanding it.  I saw it again after many years, after I had some idea that maybe I wasn’t quite right in the head, and realized it made perfect sense to me.  The horrible feeling of stress and fear that follows you everywhere, tainting your relationships and your ability to maintain the calm-but-cheerful facade we’re all expected to present to the world (does anyone really want a truthful answer when they ask “How are you?”).  Things blur together, or become magnified and amplified to unbearable levels.  It’s just so much easier to check out than have to keep pretending you’re all right.

Stop feeling like you have to pretend you’re all right.  No one is really “all right.”  Everyone has some phobia or irrational fear.  Everyone feels the racing heart and shakes of an anxiety attack.  Everyone lies awake at 3 AM imagining all the catastrophes that might befall them in the daylight.  Everyone feels pressure.

Everyone has some kind of mental illness.  We’re all in the same boat, so maybe it’s time we threw out the life preservers for our brothers and sisters who’ve fallen overboard.


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