‘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

Needed

To

Change.

Drastically. 

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. 

 

This article has 2 Comments

  1. I suppose we can change the name one thousand times, but deep inside, we still know that “whateverwewanttocallit” feeling is still there and will be there until the day we die. I’m a firm believer that is a series of issues, internal and external factors, what causes us to go like an emotional rollercoaster sometimes. Everybody has the right to call it whatever that person decides. I don’t think anybody would be mad at you for any reason, on the contrary, i think it’s great to read you and compare with​ some of the experiences we,the readers, had.
    In my case, is a never ending journey of looking for answers, to try to feel good and healthy all the time, to have a healthy sexual relationship and feel desired etc.

    The bottom line is whatever language we use, it’s not going to be like a magic wand that will make everything go away instantly, but it could make some people feel better about it 🙂.

  2. I agree Fiona. Another way ive seen the same perspective phrased is in asking the question ‘How do you feel about your feelings?’ If we hate these feelings then yes we battle with them, think how dare they pop up and ruin my life etc etc If we instead can turn towards them (and ourselves) with compassion they can weaken and dissolve. I’ve experienced that and it is quite amazing how the energy can change and the mind can quieten.

    For me the problem is they reoccur unexpectedly and I get caught in the same trap every time – I’m frightened of their power and intensity, angry for them intruding, ashamed to be feeling this way and I fight and then tire quickly and really get backed into a corner. Worse still I know this way doesn’t work so I’m really angry with myself for falling into the same trap time after time again. The solution is to respond with compassion instead of reacting in the same old way. In no way easy but I think it’s the only way out.

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