I should make that a thing.
Here’s a common misconception about my “mental illness”. It’s a disease.
#ControversialConcept coming up. Everyone, grab your mouth guards, put on your boxing gloves, run a lap around the track until your huffing and puffing results in a calf cramp because you didn’t stretch before hand, fall on the ground, and let me put my foot on your back and explain something real quick.
And before I go any further, I’ll start with my usual (usually unofficial) disclaimer: I do not in any way deny what we feel. The mood swings are real. The hallucinations are real. The pain is real. The anxiety is real. The panic attacks are real. The obsessive, compulsive behaviors are real. The struggle, of all things, is very, very real. They are not something we can turn off and on like a switch. They don’t just “get better” because we want them to get better. We can’t just “push through” like what we experience doesn’t exist.
What we experience does exist and it is very, very real.
What I will always, until the end of my days, fucking put on blast is how we describe what we experience. What I will always put on blast is how we act like everyone else needs to change how they view us (which they do) without addressing how we need to change how we view ourselves with the same urgency.
Just like your average child with mental health issues, I knew I was different from the other children, and I knew how, but I didn’t have a name for any of it. I knew people who were shy, but they didn’t seem to isolate themselves like I did. I knew people who were “weird”, but they didn’t seem to think of things the way I did. I knew people who did things alone but they didn’t seem to adore it in the way I did.
I knew people who didn’t trust people, but they didn’t seem to create theories around it and ruin relationships over it.
I knew people who were sad, but it didn’t seem to drive them to write suicide letters and self harm.
I knew people who were confident sometimes, but they didn’t seem to think they could cure a major disease by reading a textbook and scrambling down random theories like I did.
It was high school I decided to do research on myself. I started reading. I read about dopamine decreases and increases. I read about serotonin (back before the study came out that reaffirms serotonin is so complicated neither an increase or a decrease can be solely blamed for anything) and medications for all types of disorders. I liked to ignore the symptoms of “more severe” disorders because, although I met the “Criteria”, I knew I, as a 14 year old, wasn’t qualified to diagnose myself. I could never know about me what the professional would know about me.
I was 17 when I realized something major: it was rare someone with one of these apparent mental disorders was in the field of psychology. It was rare they were psychiatrists. It was rare they were clinical psychologists.
That left a large margin of people (bipolar, schizophrenia, and otherwise) at the hands of people with little to no experience but their trusty little textbook case studies. I died a little inside.
Then I pulled a Kenny McCormick and I kept dying. I died when I found out the companies researching funded their own research. I died when I learned many old medications are restructured and then sold as new medication with little or no difference for a hundred times higher of a price. I died when I learned, from experience, we don’t have a lot of say when we’re up against this system. I died when my therapist was required to recommend me for medication or else my insurance wouldn’t cover my fucking visit. I died when I heard stories of toddlers being force fed anti-psychotics for fussy behavior.
I died when I realized this was a business.
But most of all I died when I heard people referring to themselves as sick. Because when I was growing up, in my own world, absent from my peers, I understood I was different. I hated myself often for it, but I loved myself as well. And I only started seeing it all as a problem until I was told it was. And even then, at 17, I was beyond a point where I would believe their point of view.
I died when people who didn’t know one thing about biochemicals, about epigenetics, about environment, about neurotransmitters or how no one, I don’t give a fuck if they are SUPERMAN, can EVER trace ONE neurotransmitter and act like that’s the problem, agreed that a “chemical imbalance” is causing their “disease”.
I died when the studies coming out of Stanford and other such institutions disputing the evidence supposedly “found” for a chemical imbalance got shoved to the back burner.
I’m sure NAMI has told you more about your imbalance than it has about how much of a very poor theory it is.
My inspiration for this post came from this article on The Mighty: Click Here.
I respect this contributor. I respect The Mighty fully. I simply disagree with her statement here:
The brain is a physical organ, with physical components, one that resides within a physical body, and when things go awry, one that needs very physical solutions. So many people make the mistake of treating this physical problem with spiritual or emotional solutions, as I did, for decades and with little success. There may be periods of relief, yes. But the problems return.
I don’t disagree with her because she is “Wrong”, because she’s not. The brain is a physical organ, just like the heart.
Ask anyone with a member of their family diagnosed with a heart disease (my father has congestive heart failure) and you will know they are often told take this medication and reduce stress.
There’s a physical component, and an environmental component. Your heart reacts to life just as your brain does.
To act as if there is only one component to your physical health or your mental health?
It’s true, we can’t control everything we experience. I’m not disputing that. I’m disputing calling that a problem. I’m disputing the idea of that being caused by solely a physical malfunction in every human being.
Your brain is not like other organs. It harbors consciousness. It harbors personality. It integrates every ounce of information you receive, even subconsciously. It can’t be treated like the other organs. Even THEY respond positively to environmental changes. And as much as I would love to agree with all of you who say we need to start treating mental illness like physical illness . . .I can’t. Because we already have been.
We call it an illness, a sickness, a “disease” and we make you believe it because, fuck it, scientists signed that shit.
We show you the scans of the brain and tell you what it means. We don’t tell you our study was only of 30 people and only for four weeks. That’s certainly enough time to make a generalization for the whole of the mental health biological basis, am I right?
We won’t tell you the studies fell through when people tried to replicate it.
We get rid of the psychological component and any interpretations based on human common sense, and focus on the biology we don’t even understand.
We make money off you.
That’s treating mental health like physical health.
At 15, I thought studying psychiatry would help me reach those people who didn’t have peers in the system. I then learned I would be required to pay attention to their symptoms, not them. I would be required to do what the book said, what the insurance companies said, and that’s what I was going to 10-12 years of fucking school for, to be a zombie, when I have more experience with mental health issues than the fuckers on the DSM-V board.
If they think I’m someone known for playing by the rules, they should read my previous post.