‘Battling mental illness’
‘Fighting my demons’
‘To anyone suffering with mental illness – you are one badass motherfucker because nothing is more terrifying than battling with your own mind every single day’
ENOUGH!!!!!!!! Can we please, please think about changing the language a little?
It doesn’t need to be a battle, there’s no need for demons, or terror, or constant fighting. I get that that’s what it feels like, I felt like that for years. I fought with myself constantly, from the moment I woke till the moment I went to sleep, and often through the night in what I was dreaming. It was exhausting, and it got me nowhere.
I don’t want to detract from what people are going through, because I know exactly how horrific it is, right up to and including the the suicide plan and attempts. What I also get is that continuing to ‘fight’ didn’t change anything for me. I had to stop fighting, and instead start listening to what all those horrible symptoms were telling me.
I didn’t need to fight with myself, or battle my demons into submission, although I tried hard to do both. The language that we use when we talk about this is so powerful, and can either reinforce the belief that there’s something intrinsically wrong with us, or change the narrative entirely and help us recognise a different perspective.
I get that people don’t want to hear this, and I get that some of you are really, really pissed off reading this post, but for the last 4 years I’ve shared what I’ve learned as I learn it, and this is where I am now. We’re bombarded with language, every single day. What we choose to listen to, engage with and read will reinforce what we believe. So if we continue to read only about mental illness, DSM diagnoses, chemical imbalances and disorders, why would we ever believe there was an alternative? I’ve been on both sides of the fence. One helped, one didn’t. I did not want to hear an alternative. It made me so angry, it felt like people were dismissing everything I was experiencing, belittling me, telling me I was making it up. But, there is so much evidence* out there now that flies in the face of all the old mental illness/chemical imbalance theories, too much to ignore. Well, too much for me to ignore at least, and I can’t ignore what my own experience has shown me.
Be pissed off with me if you want. Unfollow me. But before you do that, will you at least consider that there might, maybe be an alternative? One that recognises our common humanity, that our reactions, our difficulties, are entirely normal and justified. One that encourages compassion, empowerment, personal responsibility, self worth. One that gives us our lives back. Think on it, even briefly. It really is quite lovely.
*If you’re interested in finding out more, Drop the Disorder is an excellent place to start and links out to many, many other organisations and professionals (psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists among them) as well as advocates and lay people interested in exploring a different point of view. Well worth a look.