ON BEING MENTALLY “ILL” – It Doesn’t Mean You Are Disabled, It Means You’re Gifted

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I’m having some problems with discussions surrounding mental illness lately, because I loathe all the terms that we have been labeled with (i.e. mental “illness”, mental “disorder”, “delusional”, etc.) because they are all sick with misunderstanding.  For example, I am bipolar.  That means that my mind works differently than the “norm” in many if not most ways.  It means that my mind races more quickly than the normal mind, draws connections between stimuli and/or memory more quickly, and as a result, from the perspective of a “normal” “objective” mind, it makes it difficult for me to “focus”.  Which, the “focus” part may be true, but the emphasis for such a great need for this type of focus and the disregard and the negative connotation ascribed to those of us who lack it, is not my doing, that is sociological programming.  

I read this article in Wired Magazine the other day, called “The Next Steve Jobs”, which talked all about free thinkers and alternative types of education, and notes Maria Montessori among others who have argued at the forefront of the education realm, that “students should learn by playing and following their curiosity,” noting that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin “similarly claim that their Montessori schooling imbued them with a spirit of independence and creativity.”  These are the types of environments that would better suit the free spirits found within those of us who have minds that function differently from the norm.  We are not programed to be followers, it is not in our nature.  We are wired to create, we get the ideas for creation and if those ideas are labeled and judged and scrutinized, and we are labeled (ADHD) and judged (behavioral issues) and scrutinized (discrimination because we “don’t fit in”), then our spirits, just from our very most intimate youth, have been dampened and damaged and that’s the beginning of a long spiral down.  That’s the beginning of emotional abuse — the denial of another’s reality.

This is just one example, but there are a million more.  We need to begin to change the way we think about our “mentally ill” population.  What causes the “illness”, believe me, is not our minds.  It’s this sociological soul sickness and climate of sociologically justified discrimination against us, that makes us ill.  We need to open our minds to new conversations about mental illness, so we can begin to see the “mentally ill” for who they really are, which may not include any kind of “illness” at all.

9 thoughts on “ON BEING MENTALLY “ILL” – It Doesn’t Mean You Are Disabled, It Means You’re Gifted

  1. It’s true, without my bipolar energy and out-of-the-box thinking, I could not have built two state-of-the-art emergency departments from the ground up. But the “ill” part of “mental illness” caught up with me when I started FEELING ill, feeling terrible, wanting to die, etc. etc. and THAT is when I knew I was “mentally ill.” Maybe someday soon science will find (actually has already found) that “mental illness” is not “mental” at all, it is physical, originating in structural and functional malfunctions in the brain. Therefore, it is more appropriately called “brain illness.” I like to talk about non-pathological brain illness as “neurodiversity.” It is common in the Asperger Spectrum to speak of “normal” people as “neurotypical.” Therefore, we could call ourselves “neurodiverse” or “neuroatypical” and be completely correct, without adding negative stigma to a condition that is clearly anatomical and physiological.

        • I don’t know…I just keep thinking about what makes me different from the ‘norm’, and then also what it is about ‘the norm’ that is making me so ill, and they are becoming two entirely separate things. Like, when I am depressed, I may be overindulgent and a bit dramatic, but usually the reason is the same –that I live in a world full of pretenders who don’t mind ignoring the suffering of others, notably, when I for some reason have an inability to do so myself. Makes it a world I don’t want to live in. But you change that, you say well maybe it’s POSSIBLE to CHANGE that, and I don’t feel so depressed anymore. I feel hopeful and motivated. I don’t know. Catch me in 3 days and I could be suicidal, I mean who KNOWS, but I don’t know, something feels different this time in my life. So we’ll see what happens. I do know what you mean though too. It’s complicated…

  2. Good post! I had given a comment on your “On Being Different” post some time ago, and I am reproducing it below for its relevance to this post. Please feel free to visit the post where I cited the quote “Here’s to the crazy ones” along with my two cents. It’s a great quote, and summarizes your feelings.

    Make a great day!
    -Deo

    In July 2013, I said:

    Kyrielle, being different is good, and thinking different is noteworthy, because our world and humanity overall is moving forward, advancing upwards and onwards because of such “different” people, who think differently, think outside the box, and act against all norms (leading to innovations and discoveries). I had posted this quote from Apple earlier this year “Here’s to the crazy ones…”, which you may find relevant.

    http://dshenai.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/heres-to-the-crazy-ones-my-favorite-quote-by-apple-inc/

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