Message to Mentally Ill: You are Doing the Best You Can!

Uploaded 7/23/2023, approx. 8 minute read

Mental illness is a globe-spanning fraternity, a commonality of experiences of pain, of rejection and humiliation, of stigma, of mistreatment, of incomprehension, of a lack of tolerance and the tendency to suppress and repress and deny, invalidate that which we go through day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

Mental illness is a chronic illness. It's a disease exactly like diabetes or heart failure, it's all-consuming and it's pernicious and it defines us.

Mental illness as opposed to physical illnesses penetrates our core identity, alters it, transforms it malignantly into something unrecognizable even to ourselves, as strange as we are from who we should have been, who we could have been and who we used to be.

And this affects, of course, everyone around us, nearest and dearest or just passes by.

Anyone from colleagues to neighbors to intimate partners to children, they are all somehow affected by this radiation of mental illness because mental illness is an affliction of the essence.

It is deep, it is profound and it gives the impression of irreversibility, ineluctability, inextractability, permanence and so in front of our eyes the mentally ill person is transmogrified into something unrecognizable and terrifying and painful and there is nothing we can do to help them, nothing we can do.

The mentally ill challenge our perception, self-perception as good, helpful people. The mentally ill undermine the tenets of the social order because they are a reminder of how fragile this veneer of civilization and civility is.

If at all this thin layer that we call civilization and culture, demons lurk the demons of the soul.

Any one of us, any single one of us can become mentally ill.

A biochemistry of the brain, a trauma inflicted by another, an accident, a mishap, a misfortune, a crisis, a life event, the death of a loved one, a break up. Anything can push us over the edge and over the ledge and anything can render us a member of this fraternity.

So listen up to this message.

Mental illness is all pervasive, all consuming, all defining, all excluding. Mental illness is pernicious.

It is in our bones, in our blood and above all in our minds.

How do we extricate ourselves from our minds?

There are way more than 12 stations in our Via Dolorosa, way more than one cross to bear.

And yet here we are, alive, surviving, against all odds, against ourselves, against our minds, against our illness.

It is a cancer of the soul and yet we are still here.

No one can truly understand the desperate, the doomed attempt to make sense of the world, of other people, of ourselves and all this to no avail.

To no avail.

This cancer of the soul is for life.

It is our constant companion.

We can talk to people, we can talk to therapists, we can consume medication, we can hope those of us who are so inclined can pray, we can try friends and family and communities and the internet and support groups and everything else.

And yet, deep inside, we know, we are bonded, we are stamped, we are stigmatized. We are a brotherhood and a sisterhood that spans the globe and all ages and all periods and all locations and all cultures and all societies.

Because our mental illness sets us apart, this constant companion of ours, who wouldn't let go, who wouldn't leave us alone, who wouldn't give us the privacy of mental health.

We need to learn to forgive ourselves.

We are doing the best we can, but we are disabled. We are crippled by the events in our brain, events that we are not privy to, that we cannot control or orchestrate or contribute to or detract from.

Stronger than us, it overwhelms us, this mental illness. It drowns us.

When we are subsumed in it, sometimes never to emerge and yet we get up in the morning and we try.

We try so hard to fit in, to make people happy, to not hurt people. We try and we keep failing. We fail and we keep trying.

So forgive them, for they know not what they are doing, people who are mentally healthy, more or less.

When they stigmatize us, when they ostracize us, when they mock us, when they ridicule us, when they threaten us, when they want to put us in shackles, real or imagined, when they stigmatize us, when they brand us.

When they do all these things, they do them out of fear. They are afraid of us. They are infuriated at our shortcomings because our shortcomings deny them their dreams.

You see, it is easy to fall in love with the mentally ill.

They are fragile. They are vulnerable. They are broken. They are damaged. They are in need of protection. They are in short children.

It is easy to provoke parental instincts in everyone around them. They give off a child's vibe.

And so people develop fantasies and superimposed dreams on the mentally ill.

And when the mentally ill come, deliver, come deliver because, constitutionally, they are inadequate, because they lack the basic equipment, because they are broken and deformed by the forces of life, they are upbringing, their own parents, maybe biology, sometimes genetics, their aberrant brain.

When all these conspire against the mentally ill, no matter how hard they try, no matter how laboriously attempt, they fail to deliver.

They cannot make dreams come true. The mentally ill never catch dreams. They are not dream catchers. They never allow a fantasy to flourish into a mature relationship.

The mentally ill are obstructive and destructive, but above all they are self-destructive and self-defeating and self-endicapping and self-loathing and self-hating, because what is there to love when your mind itself has been snatched away from you? What is left? What is left?

The body? Give it away. Just give your body away to whomever.

And this is what many mentally ill people do.

Are we mindless? No, we are not. It's just that our mind is out of control, our minds have gone awry. They've turned against us, a Trojan horse, a fifth column, an internal enemy, and we know not what strategy to deploy, what set of tactics would secure triumph and victory over this relentless, callous, ruthless, unstoppable, internal hostile figment.

How does one defeat oneself? How is one victorious? How is one rendered victorious only when one defeats oneself? How is one made successful through failure?

This is the contradiction in mental illness.

It is you that you have to fight. It is you that you have to overcome. It is you that you have to subdue and subjugate. It is you that you have to transform in order to be you fully, in order to actualize yourself, your potential, your dreams, your hopes, the gifts that you are endowed with.

In order to reach this promised land, you need to deny yourself. You need to destroy yourself as you are now. You need to fight yourself. You need to defeat yourself in a war that is asymmetrical because the enemy knows much more about you than you do because the enemy is you, your mind.

So no wonder people panic. No wonder they're terrified of the walking dead which are the mentally ill.

But you ignore.

Ignore everyone. Ignore society. Ignore the detractors. Ignore the haters.

Prepare to do better.

Try to succeed.

Attempt to surmount your handicap.

But even as you do so, do not lie to yourself.

Do not deceive yourself. Do not engage in magical thinking.

Welcome defeat. Embrace failure because defeat and failure are the fixtures of your life. They're never going away. They're never going away. They're made up of defeats and losses and failures the way no other person is.

Mental illness is the loss of yourself.

Is there a greater loss?

I know not of one.

Don't grieve for who and what you could have been.

Just rejoice that you are. That you exist despite all odds.

It is a total order to be you.

And sometimes you succeed to fulfill it. That is cause for pride, for self-esteem and self-confidence.

Trust yourself from time to time, overcome your mental illness and be the person that you could have been without it.

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